Marriage is a contract based on mutual love, consideration and respect. Both partners have a right to their own body, and while consideration for each person’s sexual needs is normal, forced sexual acts are not. They aren’t an expression of love. They are a purposeful betrayal of the respect and trust which form a solid marriage.
Sexual abuse within marriage leaves the victim very confused. We all accept that when someone is attacked and sexually assualted by a stranger while out on the street, it is called rape, and that it is wrong and a crime But, often when a man rapes his wife it is not seen by either as a crime, or even described as rape.
Many women accept that once they are married they can’t deny their husband sex. They see it as a wifely duty to have sex whenever it is demanded. When they have been raped they take on the guilt because they may have said no, and they think thats a sign of a bad wife. It can make them feel very worthless and diminsh their levels of self confidence.
If no violence has taken place the man will often see it as consensual, as a joint decision. He denies it was rape. This adds to the confusion of the woman who starts to question the reality of what happened.
Up until 1991 there was no such crime as marital rape, however since then law agencies do take claims of it seriously, and do take action.
Protection while you and your partner reside together
- Be ready to call 999 if you or your children are in danger.
- Keep change or a phone card or a mobile phone with you all the time (including by the bed).
- Save some money and keep it and a set of keys in a safe place.
- Use a call box or a friend’s phone to keep your calls private.
- Keep copies of papers in a safe place (such as passports, birth certificates, drivers licence, court orders, marriage certificate).
- Tell people you trust about the abuse.
- Talk to family and friends about staying with them in an emergency.
- Call a helpline to discuss your situation (you do not have to give your name).
- Talk to agencies e.g. a solicitor about your legal rights, or to the health visitor
- Develop and keep reviewing your safety plan if there is the risk of abuse. For instance, avoid some rooms (kitchen, because of potential weapons; or bathroom, with no exit).
- Ask neighbours and friends to call 999 if they see or hear noises that could mean you and/or the children are in danger. (Think about what you will scream or shout if attacked).
- Teach the children to use 999 and ask for the police. Talk to the children about staying safe, how they get out, where to go.
If you are in danger from a non-resident parent or an ex-partner
- Change locks, and put locks on windows and perhaps a bedroom door.
- Make the doors and entry system more secure; ask the police for advice.
- Get security systems e.g. small CCTV, burglar alarm, movement-sensitive light.
- Think about an escape route even when you are upstairs in bed.
- Teach children to dial 999, or to phone a friend or someone close by.
- Use 141 before you make a call, or telephone 150 (Customer Services for BT), so your number cannot be traced.
- Tell school who can pick up your child and who cannot.
- See a solicitor, taking benefit books or proof of income, NI number; name, address and photo or description of abuser; any information about contact with police; name and address of Housing Officer, or details of your property.
If you decide to leave, before you go…
Think about a place you can go where you will be safe, or where the abuser will not know to look for you, such as to a friend or relative (only if it is safe), to a hotel, or refuge, or to another town or city. You can also ask the Housing Department (or Homeless Person’s Unit) or Social Services for help. Get legal advice.
Put some money away in a safe place a little at a time. Move some of your things out a little at a time (for example, identification and other things that may not be noticed). Keep a diary and record the abusive incidents (only if you can do this safely).