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Know the Laws:

UPDATED July 7, 2015

Marital / Partner Rape

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Below you will find information about rape and unwanted sexual contact by a spouse or intimate partner.

More info and help

back to topSome people tell me that marital / partner rape is “not as bad” as being raped by a stranger. Is that true?

If you do not have visible physical injuries from the assault and/or rape, friends and family may think you are okay.  Many people do not understand the extent of trauma that is suffered by rape and sexual assault victims, even if the offender is a loved one.  As a victim of spousal or relationship sexual assault and/or rape, you will probably have to deal with additional effects and concerns from your experience that are different from the experience had by victims of stranger sexual assault and/or rape.* Some of these effects are:

  • Having to deal with ongoing contact with the abuser;
  • Being in love with/having romantic feelings for the abuser;
  • Further sexual assault and/or rape by the abuser as well as the possibility of different types of violence (for example, women being sexually assaulted and/or raped by their partners are also statistically more likely to be murdered by them).*
There are also further emotional effects that you may have to face based on the abuse you had to endure from your spouse. Because women who are raped by their partners are raped by someone they loved and trusted, they are more likely to:
  • Be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who are victims of abuse by someone other than a spouse or partner;
  • Have trouble forming trusting relationships;
  • Have a poor body image which may lead to an eating disorder;
  • Have more negative ideas about themselves and blame themselves for what happened.**
The fact that effects may be different than other types of sexual assault or rape does not mean that they are less serious. You have the same right to assistance as any other survivors of rape or sexual assault.

* Pandora’s Project
** National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women. Marital Rape: New Research and Directions

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back to topWhere can I find additional resources for victims of marital / partner rape?

If you have been sexually assaulted and/or raped by your spouse or partner, here are some resources you can look to for help:

Pandora’s Project (http://www.pandys.org/articles/intimatepartnerrape.html)
Pandora’s Project (specifically the article “For Women Raped by Husbands or Boyfriends”) provides statistics and other information about marital rape and steps to begin dealing with the pain of the experience.

Aphrodite Wounded: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Partners (http://www.aphroditewounded.org/)
On Aphrodite Wounded, you'll find survivors’ stories, statistics about partner rape, and information about healing, safety issues, seeking help and much more. If you were raped by a current or past partner, you are not alone. Whether you are still in the relationship or are some years out of it, you may find something informative and validating on this site. The site’s author is Louise McOrmond-Plummer, co-author of the book “Real Rape, Real Pain: help for women sexually assaulted by male partners.”

Pandora’s Aquarium (http://www.pandys.org/forums/)
Pandora’s Aquarium provides sexual assault and rape survivors the opportunity and forum to chat with other survivors and share experiences and comfort one another. They have discussion topics and chats for victims of spousal and partner rape and abuse.

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) Victims Services (http://www.rainn.org/about-rainn/victims-services)
RAINN provides support for sexual assault victims and their loved ones through two hotlines at 800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org. Whether you are more comfortable on the telephone or online, RAINN has services that can guide you in your recovery.

Did you find this information helpful?
WomensLaw.org would like to thank Louise McOrmond-Plummer for inspiring us to create this page and for her input.

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