Intimate Partner Sexual Assault

“And they say marital rape is not as bad as stranger rape. I don’t know. I have never been raped by a stranger. But I think being raped by your husband in your own home must be worse in some ways. At least if you’re attacked by a perfect stranger it is not so personal. Your husband is the person whom you should be able to turn to for comfort, who should protect you. When it is the person you have entrusted your life to who abuses you, it isn’t just physical or sexual assault, it is a betrayal of the very core of your marriage or your person, your trust. If you’re not safe in your own home, next to your husband, where are you safe?”
- Linda, Survivor (McOrmond-Plummer, 2008)
Intimate partner sexual assault exists whenever sexualized violence is present along with any form of violence within an intimate relationship. This can include married partners, unmarried partners, people in dating relationships, people of all genders and sexual orientations, and teens (Winters, 2008).

Issues that are common to intimate partner sexual assault victims/survivors as opposed to other sexual assault survivors are:
  • Longer-lasting trauma: There is a common notion that intimate partner sexual assault is less traumatic to the victim than stranger sexual assault. In fact, research shows the trauma can be longer lasting.
  • Higher levels of physical injury.
  • Multiple Assaults: Survivors of intimate partner sexual assault suffer the highest frequency of multiple sexual assaults.
  • Higher levels of anal and oral rape: Partner perpetrators commonly use these forms of assault to humiliate, punish and take ‘full’ ownership of their partners.
  • Advice to “put up with” sexual assault: A marital rape victim is often told that it is her duty to submit to her husband and that she should be grateful the rapist is a good father.
  • Financial dependency on the rapist.
  • Safety Issues: The intimate partner sexual assault survivor may need help obtaining a place of refuge, assistance obtaining a restraining order and assistance with legal/custody matters.
  • Difficulty defining the act/s as sexual assault: Women are socialized to see rape as involving non-consensual sex between two strangers. There may be reluctance for a victim to define a partner whom she loves as a “rapist.” (McOrmond-Plummer, 2008).

If you or someone you know has been the victim of intimate partner sexual assault it might be helpful to speak with an advocate at your local crisis center. You can call either of our free statewide hotline numbers 24 hours a day for support. The call is free and it’s confidential.

Domestic Violence Hotline 1-866-644-3574
Sexual Assault Hotline  1-800-277-5570

More resources:
Intimate Partner Sexual Violence in the Context of Domestic Violence, A Publication from the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

Get HELP Fast

Domestic Violence
24-hour Hotline
1-866-644-3574

Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline
1-800-277-5570

Find a Crisis Center

Call our hotlines anywhere in New Hampshire for support. Stalking victims should call the Domestic Violence Hotline. TTY available at 1-800-Relay-NH.

Donate