About Abuse

Marital / Partner Rape

Updated: 
December 5, 2018

Does marital / partner rape only happen in violent relationships?

Marital rape can happen in any relationship even if there has not been physical violence or other abuse up to that point. The unwanted sexual contact does not necessarily need to be physical or violent. Instead, it can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces you to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. The assault or rape could happen once or many times, and may occur in a non-violent relationship that is otherwise respectful. However, that doesn’t make the behavior okay. If you are forced to have sexual relations against your will, it is still sexual assault or rape.1

Although sexual assault or rape can occur in non-violent relationships, it is more common in relationships that also have other violent and abusive behaviors. One study published by the U.S. Department of Justice found that of the women interviewed for the study, 68% of physically abused women also reported sexual assault within their relationship.2

1Pandora’s Project
2Sexual Assault Among Intimates: Frequency, Consequences and Treatments (2005)