Is It Rape When Your Husband Does It?

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

A cyber friend from the other side of the world sent me a link last night about partner rape. I’ve added it to my list of “Related Websites.” Little did she know the storm she would set off for me.

This is a subject I’ve known I need to write about, but have persistently procrastinated. There are so many other things in the world to talk about. I can talk forever without ever mentioning this subject, surely. Right?

First, I opened her e-mail with the link. I got tense, but added the link to my site; responded to her e-mail. Whew. Made it through OK. Then there was another e-mail from her with an attachment. I opened the attachment. It was an excerpt from the site. Oh, darn. Only one page. OK. I made it through the page. By the end of the page I was physically ill. I almost had to leave the room. I sat back and concentrated on deep breathing and not throwing up.

I got up, unplugged my computer and brought it outside to the patio where I am now, and my stomach is back where it belongs. I guess I really do have to write about this. Because I know I’m not the only one. There are others reading this who know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?

It happens in Christian marriages. Sometimes it is forcible violent rape. Mine wasn’t. In some ways I wish it was. Just like I used to wish he would hit me. If he would just hit me I could call the police and everyone would finally believe me. If I just had some visible bruises everyone else would know I wasn’t lying.

After our daughter was born, in one of his screaming rages, Gary swore he would never come near me in an intimate way again. And he proceeded to denigrate me so horribly that I could certainly not initiate anything and retain a shred of self respect. I remained calm, as I had learned to do, and asked him if he realized what he was saying. He affirmed that he did and didn’t care. He meant it. And he did. He stayed away.

Throughout the next couple years I regularly let him know he was welcome back when he changed his mind. He didn’t change his mind. Then I was diagnosed with cancer. Once we had the details of the type of cancer I had and knew the cancer was highly hormone receptor positive, and I opted for a reconstructive surgery that permanently re-routed my Rectus abdominis muscles which support the uterus during pregnancy, we knew getting pregnant could kill me and would be at best, extremely difficult. We discussed this many times, and I told him repeatedly after that, he was welcome back when he changed his mind AND bought condoms. When he didn’t buy them, I finally did because the risk was just too great for a spur of the moment decision to cost me my life.

Digressing slightly, one of the many side-effects of chemo and the steroids that go with it, is insomnia. Like everyone else who takes chemo, I was prescribed a sleep aid. I attempted to go off it a few months after completing chemo, but my body wasn’t ready yet and I had to go back on the medication. It was a very big deal that everyone in the family was aware of because of the dramatic effects of the attempt. (There’s a reason for that little digression. 😉 ) I was finally able to go off the sleep aid about a year after completing chemo.

Meanwhile, however, the last summer we were together, about one year after starting chemo, there were three times when I woke in the night to find Gary having his way with me. Due to the medication I was unable to remain awake (I was in and out of wakefulness throughout), participate deliberately, tell him to stop, or refuse to do anything he told me to do as long as it didn’t require any coordinated action on my part. One time he did something I had repeatedly asked him not to do throughout our marriage, but he had done a few times anyway. One time he “forgot” to use a condom. And once he did something I had always refused to let him do because I felt it was derogatory within the nature of our relationship. He crowed about it for days afterwards and I felt completely ashamed.

And I could say nothing. I was very confused. On one hand, I had told him he was welcome back anytime he changed his mind. But I didn’t mean in the middle of the night when I didn’t know about it. Did he somehow think that was OK? But I knew if I said anything about any of these events three things would happen. One, he would fly into a rage. He was already doing that on an almost daily basis. Two, he would immediately call his parents (he tattled to his parents about everything constantly) and tell them I was “again” denying him sex, which was one of his favorite (unfounded) complaints. Three, he would use this as another mark against me with all his friends and our pastors – another favorite thing to do.

For the next 8 months I had terroristic nightmares every single night, even after I left him, which was 2 months after the last time it happened. I was afraid to go to sleep at night because I didn’t know what would happen. Every night I dreamed he was either trying to rape me, kill me, or had lost our daughter and blamed me (because that sort of thing actually happened). Frequently I woke up sobbing out loud or shaking so hard the whole bed rattled. Three or four days a week I woke up with a screaming migraine.

I will always believe that at least subconsciously he wanted to kill me when he “forgot” to use a condom. How do you “forget” to use a condom when it’s been two and a half years and you know it can kill your wife if she gets pregnant? And you’re sneaking it in when she’s asleep? I also know that when I first told him the doctor told me the biopsy was positive for cancer his response was, “Now I’ll have to find a new wife.” He wanted out but his code of ethics wouldn’t let him be the one to pull the plug.

The only way I eventually got relief was with the help of a psychologist. And I don’t know why it helped. But it did. [Later edit: I remembered why it helped but it’s irrelevant to this article. If it really matters to you, you can e-mail me and I’ll tell you. 😉 )

There were a whole pile of last straws in our relationship. The escalating aggression. Realizing that the verbal and emotional abuse were just as deadly as the physical violence. Realizing that I was just as worth saving as my children were. Getting cancer – I believe from the stress of living in the abuse. Realizing I was setting an example for my daughter to marry an abuser. Seeing him start to treat our daughter the way he had started with the boys when they were her age.

But this was definitely another of the “last straws.” And it was one of the hardest ones. It was one of the ones I “felt” the strongest about, but could least express. I told my attorney about it and I told my pastors. But it was certainly not something I could bring up in court. They would have made mincemeat out of me, and at that point I was definitely not strong enough emotionally to bear it. Gary could completely deny any evil intention. And he would have been absolutely believable. I would have looked like a raving lunatic out to destroy an innocent man.

But inside I was destroyed. At the time, I was sure I could never marry again. I was convinced there was no way a man was ever getting anywhere close to me in this lifetime. I think I’ve gained enough distance that it won’t be an impossible hurdle. 😉

At the same time, with the way the church deals with abuse, I am quite sure in the normal way of things, if a wife were to take a situation like this to her pastors she would get no consideration at all. And that would be profoundly wrong, because what happened to me was a gross violation. I don’t really know what to call it. Do you call it rape? I don’t know. It was certainly sexual assault. I wasn’t a willing participant. It was “taken” without my consent, and cruelly at that – without leaving a mark on me. Just because he was my husband did not give him that right.

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13 Responses

  1. Yes it is rape. According to the general statues of NC Carolina. It is rape.

  2. Thank you for addressing this, Danni, and the more recent post Does Rape Feel Good?

    Rape in Christian marriage simply should not be.

    On this topic, I hear truth in the following quote from “Why do I feel so down When my faith should lift me up?” by Dr Grant Mullen MD

    quote:

    Sex is primarily a spiritual act of oneness symbolized with a physical act. For it to be a blessing in marriage, there needs to be emotional and spiritual wholeness, free of domination, manipulation and control from either spouse. Emotional wounding or bondage in either person will damage and distort sexual intimacy. To have a healthy sexuality, you need complete trust, mutual respect and appreciation of each other which leads to oneness of body, soul and spirit. This creates a godly sexual soul tie.

    An ungodly sexual soul tie occurs when sexuality becomes a tool of control. Yes, there can be an ungodly sexual soul tie even in Christian marriage. There can even be sexual abuse in Christian marriage which gets covered up by insisting on the scriptural submission of women to the will of the male. It is a sin to dominate, manipulate or control a spouse in any way, including sexuality. It shows disrespect and treats the person as an object to meet the emotional needs of the other. Sexuality can be used as a tool of punishment or reward to control the other spouse. When it is used as a way of reassuring yourself of worth or acceptance, it can easily become an addiction that drives you for more. A very simple test of sexuality is to ask yourself this question, during sex are you lovingly giving yourself to your spouse or taking what you believe to be rightfully yours? If you are taking then you are on dangerous ground!

    In my observation, most sexual problems are emotional and spiritual, not physical. The solution is the healing of our wounds.

  3. Some of your readers may like to look at this book. It is not written by Christians and I haven’t read it myself, but from what I can tell on the book’s website it is pretty sound.
    The book is called Real Rape Real Pain and you can find it at http://www.partnerrapebook.org/ It is about rape by an intimate partner.

  4. It is rape. No question, no equivocation, no accommodation. In the eyes of the law it has finally and justly been changed to be the same offense regardless of the relationship between the parties. It is rape, it is wrong, it is immoral and it is illegal.

  5. Thank you for writing this article. While in my abusive marriage, I was not aware that what I was experiencing was actually RAPE. He excused his abuse by saying that I would say to him, “go ahead and get it over with”. I tried to kick and fight, but I couldn’t keep him off. I didn’t KNOW how to explain what I was experiencing to people. When one man at the church where we use to attend asked my husband if he ever “forced” himself on me, he denied it. He (my husband) told me this himself. I responded to him, “you told a lie”. I now have learned what a healthy relationship should look like, sound like, etc. I am sorry that my children were exposed to hearing such fighting as they were growing up. Yet, they have also been exposed to Godly marriage programs that teach HOW to relate respectfully and according to God’s blue-print for marriage. It is my prayer that they will choose to LEARN how to relate in a healthy and God-honoring way. I am concerned that my son is choosing to be abusive who is now being trained in the Marines and is headed for Afghanistan in November. I am praying for his heart to be softened and to repent. I surely do NOT want this behaviour to be carried on to my grand children. He is without excuse since he KNOW’s there are resources available that do teach healthy Godly relationship dynamics.

  6. my husband claims to be a christian ….we have been married for 3 years remarriage for both of us the day we got married he started to control me three weeks after he was physically abusing me, verbally,emotionally, he was so controlling …i could not have my opinnion on anything still if i do he will beat me …last night he forced me to have sex with him i said no! he held my my wrists down and had forceful sex and then acted like nothing happened he said i wasnt being and submissive wife…and that was my job!!!!
    he does not know how to respect me or love me …i want to leave i attend domestic violence they have helped me but my godly values tell me to stay ….my counsler is afraid i am going to die when my husband gets violent he choke holds me and slaps me and pulls my hair and constaints me…
    i hate this kind of living and pray God will give me strenth and courage to leave…

    • Rape is a crime! It is not okay because GOD would never treat you that way. Husband’s are to be kind, tender, sensitive to the needs of his wife. You are in a relationship in which your husband has broken the marriage covenant. You have Biblical grounds in which to divorce. You can learn what healthy marriage relationships look like and sound like by reading many articles off of this website as well as many other Biblical resources. I like Jimmy and Karen Evans somewhat in WHAT they share as well as HOW they share about their own marriage troubles and HOW the LORD was able to bring healing and change into their marriage relationship. Yet, any person who would tell you to STAY in this marriage while your husband treats you worse than a dog is “bad counsel”. I would suggest that you seperate and get someone to help you as well as confront your husband’s abusive mannerisms. If he refuses to hear, then the Bible says for 2 men to respectfully approach him about his abuse issues toward you (and others as well???). If he will not listen, then you may need to divorce. Marriage is to be a reflection of the LOVE our Saviour and LORD showers upon His Bride = (True Born Again Believer’s in Christ). Satan is a liar. He comes to kill, steal and to destroy. I too stayed in my marriage. I would say, “God was long suffering and patient with me.” “I must offer this to my husband as well”. WRONG thinking! We all have a free will. God doesn’t go against any person’s will. Prayer does change things. It changed my heart and mind to become well and to recognize what HEALTHY marriages look and sound like based on God’s Blueprint for marriage. JESUS would not beat you, or would he rape you. A husband is to behave toward his wife like JESUS. Jesus was willing to lay down his life for his Bride. An Abuser wants his wife to lay down her life for him. To truly love your husband is to hold him accountable for his abusive behaviours. Care enough to confront sin. Jesus did. It is not easy, but God will be with you through this storm in your life. Do what is right and remove yourself from this man that would force his will against yours. He does not love or respect you. You are valuable in God’s eyes. He will lead and guide your steps. Trust GOD. He careth for you. He will provide and protect you. Afterall, HE laid his life down for you. TRUST JESUS. I read from the Authorized 1611 KJV Holy Bible. It is God’s WORD preserved in the English tongue (language). This Bible will not lead you astray like the other “so-called” Bible versions out there. They are “perversions” of God’s WORD. Take care of yourself Elaine. You are worthy to be treated with kindness…not abuse! God bless U. I will pray for you.

  7. Jimmy and Karen Evans website is: http://www.marriagetoday.com or org. There are many resources out there that can show you what a Godly Marriage looks and sounds like. Seek, knock and ask…and GOD will direct your steps. Your coming to this website was by no accident. God is watching over you. He truly does care Elaine.

  8. I’m so sorry Elaine 😦

    My husband did not even take the coercion as far as yours yet it took me at least 3 days to recover from the trauma and confusion of his bedroom coercion and to be able to think straight.

    Write down exactly what happened. Start to keep a record of the incidents. I was instructed to do this by a marriage counselor. Dates and episodes. In my case, my husband went whining to the pastor- who had been meeting with him- about his “needs” not being met and the pastor was very patronizing and condescending toward me, until the three days had passed, I was able to think straight, write down exactly what he had said and done, and sent it to the pastor.

    My husband said he had never seen our gentle mild mannered pastor so harsh as he was when he rebuked my husband. My husband never crossed that line again. I am grateful to that pastor.

  9. You know what Elaine?

    On second thought, the counselor instructed me to keep a record of the episodes after a reportable child abuse episode with our 17yo (The counselor had discretion only because of her age. If she had been 16, it would have required a mandatory report to CPS). I am thinking that, in our case, the counselor and pastor were quite concerned for the 6 of our 8 children who were minors, and hubby would very likely have legal access to them even if I had left (and they often get much more dangerous when the object of their control makes a break for it).

    You have only been married 3 years? And he is this bad already? Do you have children together? I think if I was in your shoes, I would leave now and put this behind me. You have biblical grounds. Read Barbara Roberts book: “Not Under Bondage” in the sidebar.

  10. ELAINE:

    I found the domestic violence counseling very helpful in so many ways, but they never addressed the faith side of my life. I truly struggled with that.

    My counselor went so far as to find ‘safe churches’ for me to speak with. She knew it was a realm she couldn’t help me with, and she wanted me to be at peace.

    I think you know what your husband did was sinful and evil. I can understand your struggle because of the mixed messages we get at church and from pastors. They leave us out in the cold.

    Please find a safe church, and maybe contact ministries that deal with abuse. They WANT to help YOU!

    I pray that you find the strength to leave even if temporary so you can have time to put this in prospective. You can’t think straight with all that pressure at home. He is an abuser of the worse type. You see God loves you, and wishes you to be safe. He gave us marriage, but that doesn’t mean the marriage is more important than the people within it. God wishes to save your husband as well, but at times we must allow them to fall into that hole where God is their only hope.

    Please know that God would not wish you to be harmed in such a way, and would like to offer you both healing! You don’t have to come as a team. He helps us in our own custom ways, and he would not look down at you for escaping a dangerous home life to do just that. He is a God of mercy and justice after all! He doesn’t wish us to have this heavy burden, and wishes to make your yoke light!

    My prayers are with you.

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