Blaming the victim
It is a widely held myth that a husband can not rape his wife. A fairy tale to cover up the tremendous damage that is used by men to keep their wife under their thumb. Many people believe that sexual intercourse without consent, in this context doesn’t constitute rape. The other aspect of the myth is that it is not as serious as stranger rape. This simply is not true. Men often declare that when they live with a woman or are married, anything sexual that they do is not rape. They could run, but not hide.
In the late 70’s, we began to discuss marital rape and all of the negative effects on a woman. We challenged the notion that a wife or intimate partner can indeed say no. The response of abusing men often was to beat the wife up and then rape, sodomize her or force her to have oral sex or sex with other men while he watched. The damage done when a woman is raped by her partner can be extremely severe. The damage can be emotional and physical. There are husbands who will use objects to perform the rape. This can cause quite a lot of damage to internal organs and her uterus.
The emotional damage comes from the fact that this man is someone she loves and trusts and now he has used her as if she were an inanimate object. What she once gave freely, now she has taken from her in violence and pain. This damages her ability to connect with her husband and often with people in general. A woman is humiliated and ashamed. She has a hard time dealing with the fact that the man she loved has turned into a monster. Often marital rape is repeated until enough damage is done to require a trip to the Emergency Room. And a woman is expected to just do her duty and perform the sex acts he wants.
This is what many men in many cultures and religions and countries believe. The phrase that they hide behind is “She asked for it.” It is difficult for a woman to admit even to herself that her husband or intimate partner has indeed raped her. She has to get to a point where she can admit it to herself to be able to ask for protection and assistance. Some women do leave the rapist husband. They do find that people will still blame her for the way she dresses or where she goes. They want to give the man a pass.
We worked very hard to educate the police, the justice system and women themselves to understand that only they can decide how their bodies are used. Beatings often go along with rape. It actually often happens after a severe beating. Some men are turned on by the power and control they have used on the women.
The cycle of violence
A volunteer community study of 159 women was done. Seventy seven per cent of these women were African-American. All the women were interviewed about abuse in their homes and forced sex. Almost forty five percent of the women had experienced marital rape and physical abuse. The women had similar lifestyles except for ethnicity. There were no other demographics that separated the women. However, women who have survived marital rape experienced many more health issues, many more gynecological symptoms and an increase in their risk factors for homicide.
Sexually assaulted women exhibited many more negative mental health symptoms. The number of assaults can even effect body image and depression. So let me make this perfectly clear. Having an intimate relationship with a woman does not give you the right to assault and /or rape her. You do not own your wife. She is not property that you can control and discipline. You will go to jail. You will pay for abusing and not respecting your wife.
Quote from Maya Angelou. Ladies, you are not alone. There are many of us working to save you.