When sexual abuse occurs within marriage or partnership, the victim will often feel very confused as to whether or not she /he has been actually been 'raped'.
When rape occurs within the marriage or partnership, neither abuser nor victim may consider it legal rape. Many women (both religious and non-religious) don't believe they have the right to refuse sex, that 'sex on demand' is an unwritten part of the marriage contract. When they have been raped by their husband/ partner, they are inclined to take responsibility for the abuse, furthering the feelings of guilt and lack of self-worth. This also applies in homosexual relationships. This blame-taking is further increased by the abuser's justifications, e.g. 'it is your fault for saying no ...'. When no actual physical violence was used (i.e. coercion or force-only ) many partners will deny that rape has actually occurred and treat the abuse as though it was normal and by joint consent. This has the effect of further confusing the victim as to the reality of thier experience. In any relationship each party has a right to their own body, and while consideration for each person's sexual needs is normal, forced sexual acts are not an expression of love, but a purposeful betrayal of the respect and trust which form a solid relationship.
Rape is rape, regardless of wether you know the rapist or not
Stranger rape is usually a one-off, someone you don't know, with whom you don't share any experiences or history. When the abuse happens, there can be no doubt as to what is happening: that it is Rape. In domestic rape the circumstances are very different. It is gross betrayal of trust. The perpertrator is a person whom you thought you knew intimately, with whom you share a home and quite often children. This is a person whom you have made love to on a frequent basis, with whom you have shared your most intimate secrets and fears, and whom you believe or believed to love you, want the best for you, who would never intentionally hurt you. Domestic rape is so destructive because it betrays the fundamental basis of the marital relationship, because it questions every understanding you have not only of your partner and the relationship, but of yourself. You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated and, above all, very confused. Often the victim feels it is thier fault, even though their is no basis for thinking that way. Sexual violence and rape is a crime and can never be justified.
Article by Pauline Carruthers
Healing Our Past Experiences
Self-help and support services for adult survivors of childhood and or adult sexual abuse
Charity reg no1119389