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DYNAMICS OF MARITAL RAPE

Updated: Jan 4


“But that’s my spouse.” When we get married or are in long term relationships, we have been taught that our partner is owed what they want. That statement meaning, when your spouse wants to have sex, you just give it to them, even if you do not want to. Forcing yourself to have sex because your pressured is not okay, that is marital rape. Victims experience not only vaginal rape, but also oral and anal rape. Researchers generally categorize marital rape into three types: force-only rape, battering rape and sadistic.


Force-Only Rape

This form of rape involves exerting power and control over the victim. In a force-only rape incident, the husband uses the level of physical force necessary to succeed in raping the victim. The attacks typically occur after the wife refuses to engage in sexual intercourse. Force-only rape attacks more commonly happen in marriages in which there are not many other occurrences of intimate partner violence (IPV) and most of the heated arguments are regarding sex. Dominating and controlling the victim in sex is the central motivator in this kind of sex crime.


Battering Rape

Battering rape involves sexual and physical violence. In occurrences of this type of rape, the victim may be battered by her husband before or during the rape. The perpetrator uses more physical force than is necessary to overpower and rape the victim. Most reported marital rapes are battering rape crimes. Usually, battering rape happens in marriages where there is a lot of verbal abuse and physical battering. The rapist may often be angry, hostile to his wife, and may have an alcohol or drug abuse habit. Many other types of violence may be inflicted on the wife by the husband in this kind of marriage.


Obsessive/Sadistic Rape

Sadistic or obsessive rape in a marriage involves the husband torturing his wife and committing acts of sexual perversion against her. The attacks include forced bizarre sexual acts and are frequently physically violent. Obsessive rape involves the husband acting on bizarre sexual obsessions in which he forces his wife to perform deviant and/or painful sexual acts. The husband may have extreme pornography consumption habits and fetishes.


Most of us would never think of our spouses as a rapist or that they would sexually abuse you. Approximately 10-14% of married women are raped by their husbands in the United States. Approximately one third of women report having 'unwanted sex' with their partner. It is a myth that marital rape is less serious than other forms of sexual violence. There are many physical and emotional consequences that may accompany marital rape:

  • Physical effects include injuries to the vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue, and vomiting.

  • Women who are battered and raped frequently suffer from broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds.

  • Gynecological effects include vaginal stretching, pelvic inflammation, unwanted pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and infertility.

  • Short-term psychological effects include PTSD, anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, and suicidal ideation.

  • Long-term psychological effects include disordered sleeping, disordered eating, depression, intimacy problems, negative self-images, and sexual dysfunction.

If these signs are present in your relationship, you will benefit by seeking help from a professional (therapist or counselor) or an advocate. It is often hard to tell what is “wrong” in an abusive relationship due to confusion from emotional, verbal, and mental manipulation. Telling your story to someone who knows the signs of sexual and domestic violence will put you on a path towards freedom and healing.


If you think you may be the victim of sexual or domestic violence, please seek help from an Advocate. If you are local (Fremont or Custer Counties in Colorado) call us at 719-275-2429. You can also call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you feel you are in a life-threatening situation, please call 911.

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