Family Law

Domestic Violence and Marital Rape

If someone in your family or household is abusing your body or your mind, you are a victim of domestic violence. Victims and abusers come from both genders and all age groups. Marital rape is a form of domestic violence in which one spouse is sexually abused by the other. These actions involve complicated legal issues and can have a devastating on victims.

Domestic Violence Can Take Many Forms

Acts of domestic violence can include physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. The abuser could be a parent, child, spouse, stepparent, live-in partner, sibling, or other relative. Domestic violence includes slapping, hitting, punching, refusing to let you attend school or go to work, name-calling, or constantly criticizing.

Rape Can Occur Between Married Partners

Marital rape is an unwanted sexual act between married partners. A husband might use force or threats, for example, or may engage in sex with his wife when she can't consent for physical or mental reasons. Marital rape occurs across all ages and all social, racial and ethnic groups. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 25 percent of all rapes are marital rapes - and that 10 to 14 percent of all married women will be raped by their husbands.

Marital Rape Is a Crime

Marital rape has been a crime in every state since 1993. However, not all states treat the abuser the same. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, the husband can be prosecuted like any offender who has raped a stranger. In the remaining states, the husband will not be prosecuted if the wife was unable to consent to sex because she was asleep, unconscious, mentally impaired, or physically impaired.

Marital Rape Has Widespread Effects

Marital rape can have deep and lasting effects on a victim. Because they trusted and even loved the perpetrator, women raped by their husbands take longer to recover. Many are also victims of spousal battery. Children living in homes where domestic violence occurs may be in danger. Approximately 30 to 60 percent of those who perpetrate spousal violence also hurt children in the home.

Protect Yourself

Report marital rape to the police and get medical attention as soon as possible. Remove yourself and your children from the home, even if you depend on your spouse for financial support. The police can help you locate a shelter until you can take legal steps to get your spouse out of the home.

A Family Law Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding domestic violence and marital rape is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.

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