About Abuse

Marital / Partner Rape

Updated: 
December 5, 2018

Are there different requirements to prove sexual assault or rape against a spouse than a stranger?

Possibly – it depends on your state. While marital rape is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it might still be treated differently than non-spousal rape in some ways. For example, in some states, if you’re married to the abuser:

  • You may have a shorter period of time to report the sexual assault and/or rape after it has happened; and/ or
  • You may have to show that your spouse used more force than if you had not been married to him/her (for example, that he/she caused you bodily injury or used some sort of weapon).1

Not all states have these differences. In order to find out more specific information about your state, please call a local rape crisis center, which can be found on the RAINN website. Even if you are unsure about your state’s specific law, you can report it to the police anyway.

1 See The National Center for Victims of Crimes: Spousal Rape Laws: 20 Years Later (published in 2004)