Sexual assault suffered by many women at the hands of their partners is traumatic.
Forced sex, whether by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Some abusers expect or demand sex after they viciously beat or abuse their victims. Research indicates that 1 out of 7 married women are sexually assaulted by their husbands. Marital rape has been illegal in the United States since 1993.
For abusers, sex after violence is a release or coming down point after tension has built. He may get angry if his partner is not “willing to cooperate,” doesn’t want to have sex, or she doesn’t enjoy the sex. Abusers mistreat others to reinforce their power and control, to express anger, or to show ownership of his spouse.
For victims, sex after violence is just forced sex, torture, or humiliation and may also be referred to as wife rape. Many women feel resentful against their partner when he initiates sex even if he has been verbally abusive. If a woman who has been broken emotionally or physically agrees to sex after taking a beating, she agrees in the spirit of survival, to protect herself from another brutal assault.
Whether married or in dating relationships, some men tend to see their partner as their property and feel entitled to control them. It is difficult for victims to label the actions perpetrated against them as rape or sexual assault. Violent acts in relationships are not reported because victims think they won’t be believed. Some feel the abuse may be their own fault or they have the belief that sex on any terms is a part of their “wifely duty.” Victims may be scared of what their partner will do if he is not convicted; or they love him so much they don’t want him to go to jail or don’t want their children to live without a father.
Here are a few steps that an individual can take to free herself if in an abusive situation:
1. Seek professional help. The majority of Intimate Partner Abuse victims feel fear, which can immobilize them from acting on their own behalf. Alleviate your fears by having the courage to seek therapy from a professional such as a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or sexual abuse advocate about your situation. Counseling services can be found through rape crisis centers, domestic violence services, and family service agencies.
2. Don’t be ashamed if you still love your partner. It's entirely possible to love the abuser and, at the same time, be determined to stop the violence and abuse -- because the abuser is not going to stop on his own.
3. Know your legal rights. You have a right to equal protection of the law. You have a right to live free of violence, threats, and any kind of abuse. Do research to know exactly what your rights are where you live.