What is Intimate Partner Rape?
In the past, sexual assault was thought to be assault by a stranger upon an unsuspecting victim. As we’ve learned more about sexual assault and rape, it’s become clear that much sexual assault occurs between two people who do, in fact, know one another.
Intimate Partner Rape (also called Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV) or Marital Rape) is a rape or sexual assault that occurs between two people who currently have – or have had – a consensual sexual relationship. Intimate Partner Rape may occur in relationships that have an existing pattern of domestic violence.
Intimate Partner Rape can occur in ANY type of partnership – dating relationships, marriages, and gay or lesbian relationships.
Most states now recognize that rape within a marriage or long-term intimate relationship is illegal and can be prosecuted.
Rape Versus Sexual Assault:
While state laws may vary, the generally accepted definitions of rape and sexual assault are as follows:
Rape – Forcible penetration of the vagina or anus with finger, penis, or object. Rape is also forced oral contact upon genitals.
Sexual Assault – Any unwanted sexual touching, such as forced kissing, handling of breasts or vagina, forcing one partner to fondle the other’s genitals, or forcing one to watch pornography.
Rape and sexual assault may be used interchangeably.
Forms of Intimate Partner Rape and Sexual Assault:
It is important to realize that one does not have to have physically fought off or said “no” for an act to be regarded as sexual assault. Tears or other expressions of discomfort are reasonable indicators that sexual activity is not desired.
Sexually violent partners often do not seek consent, or if one does say no, it does not stop the sexual activity. Emotional abuse and manipulation are often used in conjunction with sexual assault and rape.
Submission is never the same as consent. The following methods may be used to manipulate or abuse a partner:
Threats toward the partner, their property, or someone else
Using guilt to engage in sexual relations
Sexual activity after continuous pressure to engage in sex before you’re ready
Pressure to perform acts which make a person uncomfortable
Continued sexual activity after it’s indicated that sexual activity is no longer welcome (even if consent was given initially)
Overpowering with physical force
Deprivation of liberty until demands of a sexual activity are met
Sexual intercourse while asleep or incapacitated
Denying reproductive choice to partner
Filming or photographing sexual acts without consent
Using sexually degrading names
Making degrading comments about sexual performance (“you’re shitty in bed”) or body (“you’re a fatass“) alone or in front of others
Controlling choice of clothes
Implying that a past rape was not rape or that “you liked it”
What are Some Common Reactions to Intimate Partner Rape?
Any rape or sexual assault may lead to a variety of reactions – some immediate, others longer-term. These reactions depend upon many things, including past experiences, type of force used, relationship of offender to the victim, and age of the victim. Here are some common ways that victims handle intimate partner rape:
Rationalization – “It was just that once.” “It’s my fault.” “I led him on.”
Minimizing – “Hey, at least he didn’t beat me.” “It’s not so bad.”
Dissociation – “I don’t have any feelings about this.” “I can’t think about it.” “I won’t think about it.”
Denial – “That didn’t happen.” “Rape happens with strangers, not partners.” “He would never hurt me.”
Focus upon the good – “Think of all the GOOD things we have.” “She/he really IS a good person,” which means the victim is the bad one.
Self-soothing behaviors – watching television, showers, smoking, self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
Submitting to additional sexual assaults to avoid a repeat of the rape.
Strong sense of betrayal and shock that someone they loved could sexually assault them.
Humiliation and a feeling of being “dirty.”
Anger and Guilt – if they’d been better partners, the rape wouldn’t have occurred.
Inability to trust another intimate partner or feel comfortable being intimate again.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Because victims of intimate partner rape usually have homes and children with the attacker, they are often unlikely to report rape and other forms of abuse. This means a victim of Intimate Partner Rape has likely been raped repeatedly.
Those who have experienced Intimate Partner Rape may experience more shame and self-loathing for being in – or remaining in – an abusive relationship.
As the rapist is someone the victim had chosen to be intimate with, the victim may begin to question who he or she may trust.
Types of Partner Rape:
There’s been a common belief that rape is about sex. It’s not. Rape, especially partner rape, is about power, violence, and control.
Anger Rape – this type of rape is particularly violent and performed in retaliation, as punishment if a man believes his partner deserves it. This especially occurs in response to her leaving, flirting with someone else, or showing him up.
Sadistic Rape – Anger rape is performed to punish a woman, but sadistic rape is performed when the attacker enjoys causing pain or humiliating his partner. This may involve cutting, biting, burning, or urinating on his victim to humiliate her.
Power Rape – this type of rape is a clear demonstration of “who the boss” is. Abusive partners often want sex after beating their partners, and this type of rape forces a woman to forget the fight and make up. This rape may not be violent, but it may instead involve force. This type of rape occurs when a woman is bullied into sex or intimidated into giving in to keep the peace.
Obsessive Rape – any type of rape by a partner who insists upon performing repeated bizarre or fetish-like sex. This may involve repeated oral or anal rape.
Why do People Stay After They’ve Been Raped by Their Partner?
There are many reasons that people stay with an abusive partner. What you decide to do is ultimately up to you, and you don’t owe it to anybody to explain your motivations. If you stay, you should have the same amount of love and support as ANY other sexual assault victim.
Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Widespread in the US
New survey finds these types of violence affect the health of millions of adults
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to findings released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story – more than 1 million women reported being raped in a year and over 6 million women and men were victims of stalking in a year, the report says.
“This landmark report paints a clear picture of the devastating impact these violent acts have on the lives of millions of Americans,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The information collected in this ongoing survey will serve as a vital tool in the Administration′s efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual abuse. And the report underscores the importance of our Administration′s work to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.”
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, or NISVS, is one of CDC′s latest public health surveillance systems and is designed to better describe and monitor the magnitude of sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization in the United States. It is the first survey of its kind to provide simultaneous national and state-level prevalence estimates of violence for all states. Launched in 2010, NISVS also provides data on several types of violence that have not previously been measured in a national population-based survey.
Key findings in the NISVS 2010 Summary Report include:
- High rates of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence were reported by women.
- Nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped at some time in her life.
- One in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
- One in 6 women has experienced stalking victimization during her lifetime in which she felt very fearful or believed that she or someone close to her would be harmed or killed. Much of stalking victimization was facilitated by technology, such as unwanted phone calls and text messages.
- Almost 70 percent of female victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before the age of 25.
- Approximately 80 percent of female victims of rape were first raped before age 25.
- Female victims of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence) were significantly more likely to report physical and mental health problems than female non–victims.
- Across all forms of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence), the vast majority of victims knew their perpetrator (often an intimate partner or acquaintance and seldom a stranger).
- About 1 in 7 men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
- One in 19 men has experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
- Almost 53 percent of male victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before age of 25
- More than one-quarter of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.
- Male victims of violence (sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence) were significantly more likely to report physical and mental health problems than male non-victims.
“This report highlights the heavy toll that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence places on adults in this country. These forms of violence take the largest toll on women, who are more likely to report immediate impacts and long-term health problems caused by their victimization,” said Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Much victimization begins early in life, but the consequences can last a lifetime.”
The report findings also underscore violence as a major public health burden and demonstrate how violence can have impacts that last a lifetime. For instance, the findings indicate female victims of violence had a significantly higher prevalence of long-term health problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, frequent headaches, chronic pain, and difficulty sleeping.
Every woman has the possibility of being beaten or raped by a partner.
And nearly twice as many women who were victims of violence reported having asthma, compared to women who did not report violence victimization.
“The health problems caused by violence remind us of the importance of prevention,” said Howard Spivak, M.D., director of the Division of Violence Prevention in CDC′s Injury Center. “In addition to intervening and providing services, prevention efforts need to start earlier in life, with the ultimate goal of preventing all of these types of violence before they start.”
NISVS provides data that can help inform policies and programs aimed at preventing violence as well as addressing the specific information needs of state and national governmental and nongovernmental organizations, while providing an initial benchmark for tracking the effectiveness of prevention efforts.
For more information about NISVS, including the executive summary and study details, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs.
CDC′s Injury Center works to prevent injuries and violence and their adverse health consequences.
- For more information about sexual violence, please visit:
If you or someone you know is the victim of:
- On domestic violence, sexual violence, funding, research, and international issues: National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.
- On sexual violence including statistics, research, statutes, training curricula, prevention initiatives and program information: National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
- To watch webinars that discuss the NISVS findings, please visit PreventConnect, a national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.