First of all, YES… you can be raped when you are in a marriage and YES… by your spouse. The marriage does NOT give either spouse the right to forcefully do anything sexual or otherwise to the other spouse. Same for ex-spouses. This includes intercourse, oral sex, forced sexual behavior with other individuals, and other humiliating, painful, or unwanted activities such as these.
IT IS RAPE if your partner uses threats, intimidation, or force thereby causing you to give in or submit to what your partner is asking.
Secondly, let’s look at the TYPES of marital rape
- Obsessive – where one partner’s sexual interests would be considered “perverse or strange” by the majority of society, especially if they are willing to use force or some other form of coercion to commit these acts. This is very similar to sadistic rape except the focus is on the obsession of this act, and not the sadistic part of it.
- Force-Only – this is when one partner uses as much force as needed to get their unwilling partner to participate.
- Battering – forced intercourse and beatings (this is the “battered spouse” category due to the fact that “rape and battering” are based on anger.)
5 MYTHS & FACTS of MARITAL RAPE
# 1 – Many people consider it difficult to prove marital rape. Often that thinking is based on the “it’s she said – he said” or “one spouse’s word versus the other spouse’s word”.
FACT: Treason, conspiracy, incest, child abuse, and other crimes are also difficult to prove but this “perceived difficulty” is not a determinate on whether a crime occurred and / or if it could be prosecuted. These are all crimes and should be reported and prosecuted.
# 2 – Many people are concerned about being falsely accused by angry, vengeful spouses.
FACT: This is typically an ill-founded belief. Most people are not born evil or vengeful. Also, most people are not willing to go through the very rough, often torturous court process, or the public’s scrutiny just to “get even” or “cause problems” for their spouses for no reason – doing so often causes trauma for themselves. The reporting spouses could file many other types of complaints with much less public exposure. Plus, our legal system also has procedural systems in place to determine if a complaint is legitimate or not. Police investigations, forensic interviewing, polygraphs, and other tools can be used to determine if a criminal charge is true or false. So marital rape is and should not be treated any differently than any other person-on-person crime.
# 3 – Many people, often depending upon their upbringing and what they witness in their own family home as a child, feel that “marriage gives legal consent for even forceful intercourse”. This is not true.
FACT: There is a very big difference between forced, brutal sex and a sexually-based expression of love. Nobody would knowingly consent to violence, nor would they waive their right to physical protection, by getting married. Love isn’t supposed to hurt.
# 4 – Many people (usually the perp or the spouse trying to protect the perp-partner) says things such as, “We have lots of intercourse, so what’s one more time – even if it was rough?”
FACT: When someone is raped by a non-family member or stranger, the victim has to live with that memory every day. But a person raped by a spouse has to live with their rapist every day! Many victims who have experienced repeated sexual assaults over an extended time literally feel trapped in a “house of terror”. The trust and intimacy in the marriage were destroyed long ago by the person who promised to love and protect them yet who turned into a sexually violent and brutal perpetrator. Again, love isn’t supposed to hurt.
# 5 – Many victims (who may not understand that this is illegal and they are actually victims of rape) say something such as, “It would be worse if I was raped by a stranger, it’s just that my spouse was in the mood and I wasn’t, so it’s part of my duty as a husband / wife to give in, even when I don’t want to”.
FACT: Marital rape is just as degrading and violent, and oftentimes more traumatic than being raped by a stranger. Most often this is the final violent act in a long history of physical abuse. Often it is repeated in front of others, such as their children. This is the ultimate betrayal of wedding vows.
Finally, let’s look at the law & information as it relates to marital rape.
- It is illegal in all 50 states.
- A victim of marital rape files charges just as they would for all other crimes.
- An interview and examination for sexual assault (ie: SANE) will be conducted.
- Many marital rape cases have been prosecuted in the USA.
- In fact, the prosecution rate for marital and date rape is much higher than the prosecutions for non-marital rape cases.
- Often the marital rape cases do not go to a criminal trial because many victims have chosen to sue their spouses in civil court for financial compensation due to their injuries and suffering.
- It is known – largely because of RAINN – that those who are raped by a spouse experience deep, profound psychological injuries. Not only are these victims sexually violated, but their intimate relationship and trust have been betrayed.
- Many victims have to cope with a deep-seated lack of trust in their partners, acute fear, and overwhelming reality that this will likely occur over and over again. They also experience deep doubt and hopelessness that it will never end, or that the system wouldn’t believe them and therefore not prosecute the perpetrating spouse.
- Research has shown that survivors of marital rape are much more likely to be victimized repeatedly than those who have been raped by a stranger.
- Most Americans still view marital rape as “much less harmful” than stranger rape. This is why most survivors don’t get much empathy or support from others, and why police departments and county agencies have sexual assault recovery resources available, including skilled crisis therapists.
Ms. Mozelle Martin, FMHP, FHWE, PhD.
- 35-year International Forensic Handwriting Expert
- Author: What I Learned From Watching CSI
- Contracted Forensic Mental Health Professional for Jails & Prisons
- Creator of The Housecall Analyst forensic book series
- Forensic Consultant since 2007 – FindMeGroup.org
- Former Forensic Consultant – Criminal Minds TV show
- Media Commentator for ABC, NBC, TruTV, Crime Watch Daily, etc.
- Plantologist, Pianist, Photographer, and Artist