Please click on any of the subject headings below for information about partner o marital rape.
Partner Rape is defined as sexual acts committed without a person's consent and/or against a person's will when the perpetrator is the individual's current partner (married or not), previous partner, or co-habitator.
3 types of Partner Rape:
- Battering rape- the experience of both physical and sexual violence within a relationship. Some may experience physical abuse during the sexual assault. Others may experience sexual assault after a physical assault as an attempt to "make up."
- Force-only rape- motivated by a perpetrator's need to demonstrate power and maintain control. Therefore, he/she asserts his/her feelings of entitlement over his/her partner in the form of forced sexual contact.
- Obsessive/Sadistic rape- involves torture and perverse sexual acts. Such rape is characteristically violent and often leads to physical injury.
Research indicates that survivors of partner rape are more likely to be raped multiple times when compared to stranger and acquaintance rape survivors. As such, partner rape survivors are more likely to suffer severe and long-lasting physical and psychological injuries.
This material was adapated from RAINN.org
Until 1984, Virginia was one of many states which frequently exempted men from prosecution when they were married to the woman they raped. After a landmark case, the law was changed in 1986, making sexual assault of a spouse a crime. In Virginia, both marital rape and marital sexual assault laws were enacted with penalties of up to 20 years of imprisonment. The judge may opt to suspend all or part of the sentence in favor of counseling if he or she deems that this will “promote maintenance of the family unit.”
As of July 1, 2005, people who commit felony sexual assault (including forced vaginal, nala, or oral sex or sexual penetration with an object) against a spouse are supposed to receive the same punishment as those who commit sexual assault against non-spouses.
Is a spouse commits a sexual assault, then all or part of the sentence may be postponed so the defendant can receive counseling or therapy. The only way this can happen is if it is a first offense, and if the victim, the prosecutor, and the judge all agree. If the defendant completes counseling/therapy, the sexual assault charges may be dismissed completely. This is known as "defer and dismiss."
Prevalence of Marital Rape
Current studies indicate that as many as one in seven women have been sexually assaulted by their husbands. Marital rape is often used as part of a pattern of brutality by husbands who abuse their wives.
Consequences of Marital Rape
Marital rape is a brutal crime, often with more severe and long-lasting consequences to women than rapes by strangers or acquaintances. According to the US Department of Justices, more than 50% of spousal rapes and rapes by ex-spouses resulted in injury to the victim, as compared to 40% of all rape victims.
Some consequences of marital rape are as follows:
- Suicidal tendencies
- Long-term sexual dysfunction
Nicholas Groth, in his book, Men Who Rape, defines marital rape as forcible sexual assault on an unwilling partner. He states that “the refusal of sex is not, in and of itself, the reason for such assaults; rather it is how such denial is experienced by the offender in the context of the marital relationship.” Groth has postulated five belief systems held by men who rape their wives:
Men who hold this belief rule their wives and epitomize the image of the domineering, patriarchal spouse. These men believe they have the right to force their wives in sexual relations.
Men with this belief are insecure about their own personal worth. They believe that if a wife does not desire sex with her husband, then she doesn’t love him. He believes that if he forces sexual relations, that affirms his worth, even though she has “agreed” as a result of the force he used.
Many men believe that sex is a proof of manhood. For these men, sexuality is based on conquest and domination of a woman by a man.
For some men, sex is an expression of hostility, of punishing a wife, of teaching her a lesson. If the wife refuses sex, forcing her shows her who is “boss.”
For men who hold this belief, sex is a solution to a problem, a form of reconciliation. If the wife can be “persuaded” to engage in sexual relations, then he feels and believes that the marriage is okay.
ADapted from VAASA Volunteer Manual, Second Edition, 1998