the secret behind closed doors

spreading awareness and information of abuse

Marital rape Vs Stranger rape

Posted by shadowlight and co on April 28, 2010

Did you know that marital Rape was only made a criminal act in the UK in 1991? Up until then it was considered impossible for a man to rape or sexually assault his wife. To quote:
“A husband cannot rape his wife unless the parties are seperated or the court has by injunction forbidden him to interfere with his wife or he has given an undertaking in court no to interfere with her.” (The Law Made Simple, The Chaucer Press, 1981)


Stranger rape is usually a one-off, someone you don’t know, with whom you don’t share any experiences or history. When the assault happens, there can be no doubt as to what is happening: that it is Rape (though even in such situations the victim will often wonder what she has done to precipitate the assault and will blame herself).

In marital rape the circumstances are very different. It is – quite apart from a physical and sexual violation – a betrayal of trust. Here is a person whom you thought you knew intimately, with whom you share a history, a home and quite often children. Here is a person whom you have made love to on a frequent basis often over many years, with whom you have shared your most intimate secrets and fears, and whom you believe to love you, want the best for you, who would never intentionally hurt you. Marital 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 marriage, but of yourself. You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated and, above all, very confused.

Another problem victims of marital rape face is that such instances are rarely a one-off, but a repeated if not frequent occurance. This can be a huge issue to the victim, because she will feel as though she has somehow ‘asked for it’ by staying or putting herself in the situation where it can happen again. Also, once it has been tolerated on a number of occassions, she may question her right to then act upon it.

Many women who are victims of marital rape have great difficulty in defining it as such. The traditional idea that it is impossible for a man to rape his wife and that somehow, in taking our marriage vows we have abdicated any say over our own body and sexuality, basically denied ourselves the right to say ‘no’, is still prevalent amongst wives as much as amongst their husbands. A wife being raped will often question her right to refuse intercourse with her husband, and while she may realise that legally it now constitutes rape, there are many reasons which may prevent her from perceiving it in such a light.

We prefer to see it possibly as a communication problem (did I make it clear enough that I did not want intercourse tonight), we may see it as an act for which the man is not fully responsible due to his nature (men have a biological need to have sex and if there is a woman next to them in bed when they are in the mood they just cannot help it), we may see it as a misunderstanding (although I told him I didn’t want to, maybe I gave him the wrong signals somehow), we may have religious issues which question our right to refuse intercourse (I have got to submit myself to him and accept his will above mine as my Lord and Master).

Basically, as wives being raped by our husbands, we look for every reason, every excuse to deny it is Rape because we do not want to accept the alternative: it is Rape, he is hurting and humiliating us with intent, we can no longer trust him, turn to him in comfort, gain reassurance and protection from his company and our home is no longer safe.

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