Home > Awareness raising > Myth: If you’re married or in a relationship, you cannot be raped
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In this series of blogs, we expose some of the myths that surround sexual abuse and sexual violence. The series is part of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

The aim is to highlight how damaging these myths can be and how important it is to raise awareness of sexual abuse and sexual violence to both prevent and effectively respond to victims and survivors. IDAS employ Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who support survivors with both practical guidance and emotional support. These accounts are based on real life events; however, some details have been changed to preserve the anonymity of the survivors. The content of the blogs may be upsetting for some people as they depict the circumstances of the violence or abuse experienced by the survivor as they recall it. The survivors have given their permission for these accounts to be published to help dispel the myths.

This account outlines the experience of a married woman who is repeatedly raped by her husband. It contains detailed descriptions which some people may find upsetting.

"I have been married for twenty happy years, together for twenty seven, with two grown up children who have since flown the nest. We tell each other everything, our hopes, dreams and desires."

"I love to read but my husband never seemed to take any interest. Until, a friend lent me her copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. At first he was a bit perturbed. What was a women of my age, happily married doing reading that sort of book?"

"Then he became curious."

"I started to find different page corners turned over, and asked him if he was reading it. Initially, he said no but eventually admitted to wanting to see what all the fuss was about. Then he asked if I could borrow the second book. And the third."

"The terminology started creeping into his desires, 'suggestions' he called them. I wasn’t interested. The first time he raised it I actually laughed. We'd had a very happy sex life, I wasn't sure why he would be interested in this."

"He was persistent. It became almost a daily conversation. He would bring it up only for me to decline. Then he became nonchalant about our sex life, it was as though he was bored or sulking."

"It was our anniversary."

"I hadn’t noticed the packages arriving but sure enough, after dinner he showed me the ‘toys’ he had purchased. Handcuffs, whip, pleasure balls. He begged me to try it. Just once he said. He said it was like an itch, he felt he needed to try and it wouldn’t go away unless we did."

"I didn’t want to let my husband down, he'd clearly been planning this for a while. I said I was still very dubious. I don’t like pain, which he knew. He said we could have a safe word. Like they do. We said we would take it slow."

"He handcuffed me. He had clearly been fantasising about this for a long time, he seemed possessed. It just didn’t feel right."

"I said the safe word but he shushed me. "We're just getting started," he said. I begged but he shushed me again. I shouted out in pain and said the safe word again but he just ignored me and carried on. I began to cry but he continued."

"My husband raped me."

Forcing someone to have sex against their will or in a way that they do not want to is rape. This is irrespective of the relationship between the people. Sex should always involve enthusiastic consent. The practice of using whips and handcuffs may be pleasurable for some people however, if someone is coerced or forced into such activities constitutes sexual assault or rape.

The Law: Rape England & Wales

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if -

(a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,

(b) B does not consent to the penetration, and

(c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

(2) Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.

(3) Sections 75 and 76 apply to an offence under this section.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.

Further reading:

Sexual Offences Act
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/section/1

National Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness week:
http://sexualabuseandsexualviolenceawarenessweek.org/

Police and Crime Commissioner, North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, BBC Children in Need, Leading Light Accreditation by Safe Lives
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