How to handle spousal abuse

b2f9faa9c03c233aRape doesn’t have to occur with a stranger, and it is often someone known to the victim. Increasingly, women are reporting spousal rape, which was once considered impossible. You should know that no one has the right to violate you sexually – even your spouse – and that Intimate Partner Sexual Assault (IPSA) is just as serious a crime as rape by a stranger or acquaintance. 

If you’ve been a victim of spousal rape, you might be confused and frightened. It is difficult for most people to understand how a husband can sexually assault his wife, but it happens all of the time. In days passed, men were guaranteed sex on demand as their right of marriage, but this isn’t the case in our more advanced society. Women don’t have to have sex if they don’t wish it, even when it comes to a boyfriend or husband. 

Of course, men can be victims of spousal rape, though this is far less common. Rape is considered a crime of control, and not of sexual urges or passion. Anyone who has been sexually assaulted by a significant other has the right to report the crime, to press charges and to see justice served. Unfortunately, however, spousal rape is often difficult to prove. 

The most important thing for you to do is to get to a hospital immediately. This might be difficult if you are at home and your spouse is in the home with you, but do whatever you can to leave and get medical treatment. Not only is this important for treatment of injuries, but a record of the assault will help police to prosecute the crime later. The hospital will perform a rape kit, which involves looking for trauma and trace evidence to support the claim of assault. 

After seeing a doctor, spousal rape victims should not return home unless they are assured safety. Authorities recommend calling someone you trust, such as a family member (not your spouse) or a friend, who can get you to a safe place. Returning to the “scene of the crime”, as it were, is flirting with danger, and you don’t want a repeat incident of the event. Better to stay with someone else until you can talk to the police and file charges against your spouse. 

Spousal rape is one of the most underreported crimes in the world. Women assume that their husbands can’t rape them, and avoid creating an issue as much as possible. They consider it an isolated incident, and figure they did something to deserve the abuse. On the contrary, however, most instances of IPSA are symptoms of a much larger problem, and the chances of it happening again increase dramatically once they happen the first time. The husband (or wife) feels liberated by the power he or she has over the other spouse, and the problem escalates from there. 

Pressing charges with your local police department is arguably the best way to get results. Even if you are able to work it out with your spouse after therapy and potentially rebuild the relationship, your spouse should face charges for the crimes committed against you. Your local police department can help you fill out the proper paperwork, after which they will arrest your spouse for rape.

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