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Sexual Objectification

Definition:

Sexual Objectification - The act of viewing another individual in terms of their sexual usefulness or attractiveness rather than pursuing or engaging in a quality of personal relationship with them.

Description:

Objectification is one of the common traits of personality disorders. Sexual Objectification is a particular manifestation of objectification that manifests itself in the area of sexual relations.

Sexual objectification occurs whenever an individual's feelings, personal needs or dignity are disregarded by another individual who suffers from a personality disorder who focuses exclusively, inappropriately or excessively on their own sexual desire or gratification.

Examples of Sexual Objectification:

  • A husband who physically hurts or verbally berates his wife who then, without reconciling, requests sexual intercourse at bedtime.
  • An individual who threatens to hurt or punish their partner if they do not have sex with them or provide sexual services.
  • A woman who has sex with a friend for whom she has no care or respect.
  • A family member who engages in rape or incest.
  • A boss who sexually harasses a subordinate or requests sexual favors of them.
  • A parent who pays excessive attention towards their child's sexuality.

What it feels like:

To be the victim of a person who engages in sexual objectification can be a tremendously humiliating, devastating and confusing experience.

On the one hand, you may possibly be grateful for the attraction that the person has for you. You may be tempted to think that you can handle it or that you won't let it get to you, but the gratification and confidence is often short-lived as their lack of commitment, respect and care for you show through and you will often be left feeling used, cheap, discarded and taken advantage of.

Moreover, you confidence around potentially loving partners may be shaken if you begin to wonder if perhaps this is the best you can do.

Learning To Cope:

Domestic sexual objectification is a form of sexual assault and may also include rape. This is a serious crime. The vast majority of such rapes and sexual assaults occur at the hands of close relatives, partners and friends. If this is happening to you, then it may be hard for you to think clearly. Therefore, it is important to reach out and get help from a caring person from outside the situation who can help you think and see things more objectively.

What NOT to do:

  • Don't keep quiet about the situation.
  • Don't stay in the room with someone who is touching you in a way you do not feel comfortable with.
  • Don't tell yourself it doesn't matter or that you can handle it.
  • Don't retaliate or try to hurt the person who is abusing you.
  • Don't blame yourself or take responsibility for the way another person is behaving towards you.
  • Don't forget about it or assume it is over if the abuse stops. Most abuse patterns are cyclical and most abusers are kind, generous and charming in between acts of abuse or aggression.
  • Don't tell yourself it isn't sexual assault because you are married or in a romantic relationship with the other person - or because you consented on a previous occasion.
  • Don't stay to discuss it or try to shame or guilt-trip your abuser into treating you right. Acts of abuse are illogical and are often the product of mental disorders. Logic will not solve it.

What TO do:

  • Quickly, calmly and without drama, leave the room, the house and the company of anyone who subjects you to unwanted sexual contact.
  • Immediately reach out for support from someone who cares for you and who understands about personality disorders.
  • Get your children, pets and valuables to a safe place too.
  • Talk to others who have been in your situation.
  • If necessary, call one of the hotlines on our Emergency Page.

For More Information & Support...

If you suspect you may have a family member or loved-one who suffers from a personality disorder, we encourage you to learn all you can and surround yourself with support as you learn how to cope.

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