If you think sexual violence takes place only between strangers, then you are wrong. In the US, 10-14% of married women experience rape from their husbands. Furthermore, about one-third of women report having 'unwanted sex' with their partners. So, what exactly is marital rape?
Simply put, marital rape or spousal rape is forced sexual intercourse without the partner's consent. Consent is the primary element to be considered to call an act of marital rape, even though there is no violence involved. Earlier, sexual intercourse was seen as a spousal right. However, now, the act of forcing the partner without their consent for sexual intercourse is considered marital rape.
Although many countries including the US have laws against marital rape, the sad part is that the implementation of these laws still requires the attention of governments and political officials. In many countries, marital rape is yet not labeled as a sexual crime, while women continue to bear the atrocities of their partners (perpetrators). Furthermore, many times, the victims do not realize that they are being sexually assaulted because of a lack of sexual awareness in society.
Types of Marital Rape
Three kinds of marital rape take place in our society:
Battering Rape: Battering rape is the type of marital rape wherein both sexual and physical violence are accompanied by each other. The victim might be physically assaulted during the rape, or the rape can be followed by the battering from the perpetrator. Most of the victims of marital rape experience battering rape.
Force-only Rape: In force-only rapes, perpetrators use threats and violence to an extent that coerces sex. Such rapes take place in relationships where violence tends to happen verbally or before sexual interactions.
Obsessive Rape: Obsessive rape is the worst out of the other two types of marital rape. In such rapes, the abuser is obsessed with sex and can use violent acts to become aroused. Sometimes sexual intercourse is violent in nature.
What Are The Effects of Marital Rape?
Sexual violence from a person with whom you share your life, your home, and your children can be difficult to process. Victims might as well wonder 'why' did it happen. But rape is never about you or what you did that ignited the act. It is always the fault of the perpetrator. Nothing can justify sexual violence.
Victims many times feel traumatized about having their partners assault them. Victims face physical effects of marital rape such as bruises, painful intercourse, unwanted pregnancy, etc. Apart from that, marital rape also results in psychological consequences like stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, social isolation, sleep disorders, eating disorders, dissociative personality disorders, etc.
Not only do the victims have to suffer the consequences of marital rape, but the children of the house (if any) also get affected when they grow up in a sexually violent environment. They tend to develop a fear of social interactions, relationships, and friendships. They try isolating themselves, which can lead to detrimental impacts on their mental health. Moreover, children, living in such aggressive conditions are also at risk of getting sexually assaulted. In order to combat the impacts, they can additionally use excessive drugs and alcohol.
What Can Help Mitigate The Effects of Marital Rape?
We live in a society where rape culture has become common and we often blame the victim for a sexual assault. The lack of support from society and the taboo associated with sexual violence can double the struggles of a marital rape victim. By keeping a few things in mind as concerned human beings, we can help mitigate the effects of the violence:
Friends and family can show their support to the victims by talking to them instead of blaming them for the accident.
Support groups are small groups that can help victims get into conversation with people who are going through the same issues. These groups can help them feel more understood.
Government should come up with campaigns and movements that aim at creating sexual awareness among the individuals.
Implementation of the existing laws against marital rape can help combat the issue in many countries.
Sexual prevention programs should be supported so that victims can take appropriate action when they experience sexual violence at home
Children also go through the consequences of marital rape. As a result, educational programs should be supported to help them understand that sexual violence, even if it is at home, is not normal and acceptable.
Relationship counseling and therapy should be opted in case you are going through relationship problems.
The false notions prevailing in society, like women enjoying forced sex, can be some of the significant causes of marital rape. Even though constant efforts have been made to mitigate the effects and risks of marital rape, it is one of the most unreported sexual crimes. The reasons why victims do not report the crime can be many, but nothing justifies the rape and the scars that it leaves on the lives of the victims. It leaves a trauma that can result in suicidal thoughts and even suicide. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you're not alone in your struggle of dealing with marital rape.
If you or anyone you know might be going through sexual violence, it's time to speak up and get professional help.