Sexual assault is not uncommon in marriages, and it can often be even more dangerous than sexual assault at the hands of a stranger.
While rape and sexual assault are often one-time scenarios where a perpetrator maliciously waits for an opportunity to hurt a victim, marital rape and assault can go on for years. The U.S. Bureau of Justice reports that 26% of reported rapes were committed by husbands or boyfriends.
Spouses often have a hard time addressing this situation as a crime because of the binding of a marital contract, financial pressures, or an unwillingness to end a marriage for the sake of children. Often, victims are left questioning whether they truly are victims, making reporting instances of violence or sexual abuse difficult, to say the least.
Domestic abuse is when the act is committed by a past or current spouse, housemate, partner, the parent of a shared child. Although it can be difficult to walk away from these situations when there is so much shared history, doing so will protect you and any children involved from continued abuse or further danger.
Sexual assault allegations in the U.S.
Until the 1970s, sexual assault was not considered illegal in the U.S., and to this day some states must continue to rewrite their laws to ensure marital rape is illegal. Although federal laws are meant to protect victims from marital rape, some state laws contain loopholes and oversights. These may be harmful to victims who already have a difficult time being taken seriously in these scenarios.
While recent growth of the #MeToo movement has helped shed light on sexual assault and abuse, it, unfortunately, did not place much of an emphasis on the overall prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault. The first step to addressing rape within marriages is the same as it is in any other social rights movement — people must know it is a problem. This means raising awareness so that people feel more comfortable talking about it.
Once the taboo surrounding marital rape and assault has dissipated, spouses may be more likely to come out to friends or family, address the issue, and get help. Marriages in which a person does not feel they have bodily autonomy can be traumatic and affect individuals for many years afterward. Knowing it’s not okay and you shouldn’t put up with it can help people prevent long-term abuse by seeking help as soon as the abuse begins.
Whether sexual abuse occurs within a marriage or outside of it, it must be talked about more than it currently is, and more federal funding should be directed to ensuring medical professionals have the resources to address abuse. The current backlog of rape kits is proof that not enough is being done to persecute dangerous men and get women the justice they deserve.
How Sexual Assault Allegations Affect Divorce
The U.S. is not a country in which you’re required to make a case for divorcing your spouse. You can divorce your spouse for any reason at all; however, sexual abuse can be difficult to prove because it often does not leave any obvious signs or evidence of bodily injury. Some sexual acts, even those considered consensual at the time, may lead to sexual assault charges — for instance, one man in Texas was charged with sexual assault for deliberately attempting to spread STDs. This is a reason the #MeToo movement aims to encourage victims to speak out, as this can help show how common and subversive abuse can truly be.
However, if you’re able to prove your sexual assault case to a judge or jury, it’s more likely that the case will be ruled in your favor, especially if you’re seeking custody of your children or alimony. When separating from a spouse, you should do whatever you need to stay safe, including getting a restraining order and any other help you may need from friends and family. Whether or not you can prove your sexual assault case with evidence, a compassionate judge may grant you the ruling you request in an attempt to keep you safe and give you peace of mind.
Sexual assault is rampant across all societies, and women who are in long-term relationships are not exempt from this. Across the U.S. statistics show that in their lifetime, 1 out of 5 women are raped. While many of the perpetrators in these cases are strangers or friends, they are often spouses.
This can create an incredibly difficult situation to get out of, as the ongoing physical and emotional abuse can be a serious challenge to overcome. If you are one of the many people experiencing this, call the domestic violence hotline in your area. Do whatever you can to get away from the situation and find safety as soon as possible.