Having Sex With a Man Who's 'Stealthing' Might Just Ruin Your Life

woman sitting on bed with man sleeping in background
Even though you probably wish you hadn't, you've probably heard recently about a disturbing practice called "stealthing." Long story short: It's when a man takes off his condom during sex -- without your consent. Creepy as hell. And here's something that makes it even worse: It's NOT a new thing.


Although we're all well versed in what physical abuse looks like in a relationship, emotional abuse is way more subtle -- and less talked about. (I'm probably just being dramatic, is what your mind tells you. Maybe he's right to insult me, humiliate me, control me, etc.)

"Reproductive coercion" is a tactic of emotional abuse, and one which you might not have heard of before. According to Lisa James, director of health at Futures Without Violence, a nonprofit working to end violence against women and children around the world, it's "behavior used to pressure or coerce someone into becoming pregnant ... against their will."

Handmaid's Tale, anyone? Except, you know, that's fiction and this is real.

"Stealthing," James says, is just "a new name for a form of reproductive coercion and sexual violence that we've been hearing about from survivors for a long time."

Men BRAGGING about this kind of violence is also not new, she adds. "It's just perhaps more visible now that it's being shared on the Internet."

Sadly, there's probably even a Reddit thread for it. But we're not going there. Ever.

So WTF compels a man to try to force a woman to have his child? Or pass on a sexually transmitted infection? After all, "stealthing" doesn't just happen with a guy you met and hooked up with, confirms James. It can happen in any relationship -- including a marriage. 

More from CafeMom: 15 Signs You're in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

"By stealthing, a guy is telling his mate she's subhuman and not worthy of having a voice in her life," says Paul Hokemeyer, JD, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York City. "He's insecure in his place in the world and has yet to grow up and take responsibility for himself and those around him."

Men who do this, Hokemeyer notes, also lack a moral compass. In clinical terms, it's a manifestation of a narcissistic personality known as "malignant narcissism."

People who have it "are only concerned with satisfying their insatiable needs for pleasure," he says, "and are willing to destroy anyone who stands in their way of getting it."

Insert your own grim political joke here.

Holy s**t, you may be wondering. How am I supposed to trust anyone I have sex with? (Loving, respectful partners excepted.)

Consent BEFORE you get busy is an excellent idea, says James. Engaging in a discussion about sexual boundaries and protection is wise, as well.

Still, stealthers -- as we'll dub them -- deliberately cross those boundaries. "Like all forms of sexual violence," James says, "this could happen to anyone, no matter what steps you take to protect yourself."

What we need to do is stop shifting the focus from what we can do to stay safe and instead, she adds, "hold perpetrators and complicit bystanders accountable for their actions."

Normalizing rape culture, in other words, has got to stop.

If you've been a victim of stealthing -- and men can be victims too, FYI -- "know that you are not alone, what happened to you is not okay and you did nothing to cause it," James says.

Call a local or national rape crisis or domestic violence hotline to get info about support, emergency contraception, or being tested for sexually transmitted infections.

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