Controlling Spouse – 5 Subtle Communication
Patterns of Spousal Sexual Abuse

Dr. King


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.


Sexual abuse in controlling relationships can be as subtle as emotional and psychological abuse between intimate partners. Would you know if you were entangled in spousal sexual abuse?

Here are some common behavior and communication patterns of sexual abuse in intimate relationships.

Expectation Consequence Mentality

The expectation consequence mentality is what I have identified as “expectation sex” in other writings, and it looks something like this... “Because I expect it, you are required to deliver it and if you don’t, there will be consequences.”

These so-called consequences could be a twenty-question inquisition, a self-pity party or some form of retaliation. It is the “negative reinforcer” that conditions the compliant behavior—complacency sex.

Complacency Avoidance Mentality

The flip side of expectation sex is “complacency sex.” This term refers to having sex so as to avoid the consequences of not having sex. It’s a very common practice in controlling relationships and usually seen in victimized female partners. At all cost, these women seek to avoid encountering the aftermath of refusing sex.

Bulldozed Intimacy Mentality

“Bulldozed intimacy” looks a lot like a bull in a china shop. They show up and charge in. Bar none, they have their “free for all.” They own the shop and whatever is there is for the taking. It’s more of a reach-and-grab effort, rather than a reach-and-give interaction.

Bulldozed sex is void of interactional, collaborative, inter-intentional arousal in which the efforts of one person evoke that of the other. Instead, the efforts of the bulldozer cascade unilaterally irrespective of the other.

Controlled Arousal Mentality

The controlled arousal mentality refers to the controlling partner’s need to show you what feels good, rather then let your body show them. They want you to believe that they know more about you than you do, and they seek to control your sexual arousal.

For them, it’s not about riding the wave...contributing to you intensifying your arousal. It’s about their manipulating your sexual response, as they so desire. It’s truly about control, not interactive pleasure enhancement.

Privileged Entitlement Mentality

When all is said and done in this sexual encounter, you know it was all about and for your controlling spouse. There is an air of righteous entitlement with respect to your servitude. A job has been accomplished, rather than an interaction experienced.

Spousal Sexual Abuse Conclusions

If you recognize the psychosocial and behavioral patterns described above, especially in combination, beware and be mindful of the possible larger control dynamics in play. You may very well be dealing with a bully beyond the bedroom.

Use your insight to inspire change toward non-controlling, non-abusive interaction. With the proper professional intervention, you and your partner can cultivate habits of interpersonal honoring, mutual respect and unconditional regard in and out of the bedroom.

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Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.