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Sexual Abuse in Marriage
Sexual abuse is another tactic used by the abuser as a means of exerting power and control over his partner. Sexual abuse is defined as any undesired sexual activity, including unwanted sexual advances, forced exposure to pornography, or sexual encounters tied to emotional, physical, social, or spiritual abuse. This form of abuse strikes at the victim's most vulnerable and sacred trust. It combines sexual betrayal with physical, emotional, and spiritual harm.
One woman related her abuser's tactics of combining sexual and spiritual abuse. When she did not welcome his sexual advances he browbeat her with a perversion of scripture, claiming that her body was not her own but was his. As the head of the household, he claimed, he had a right to her body when it pleased him. He berated her faith and expressed doubt that she was a Christian because she certainly was not acting like one. A Christian wife, he claimed, would never turn down her husband. This form of abuse crushed her soul because her faith was the core of her being.
Other women have related emotionally abusive tactics such as name calling if she is not sexually responsive. Abusers will quickly resort to taunts such as, "frigid" and "lesbian" if their wives were not ready when called. An abuser often threatens infidelity, "If you won't have sex with me then I will find it elsewhere. There are plenty of women out there." Anna remarked, "I could either spread my legs before he resorted to name calling or after, my choice."
"He wants sex when he wants it, the way he likes it, and with little regard to how I feel or what I want," wrote one woman still trapped in her abusive relationship. His advances come most every night that he is home. If she does not give in to his advances then he either forces himself upon her or he displaces his anger onto the children; her options were to give in to his demands or put a child in danger of an undeserved spanking. Each time she gave in, however, she felt like she had lost another piece of her soul. She welcomes the nights he is drinking with the guys or spending time with another woman.
Clara related a similar experience when she said that she never turned her husband down in an effort to protect her children. "Win one for the Gipper" was her silent motto.
Margaret tried to laugh about the many inappropriate times her abuser insisted upon a "quick trip between the sheets." She recounts the hour before her grandmother's funeral when her abuser decided it was time for a quickie. She is not sure how many of the tears she shed that afternoon were for her grandma and how many were for herself. She decided she had plenty to cry about and a funeral was a safe place to let tears stream down her cheeks.
Margaret was not able to produce even a chuckle when she described her abuser's insistence upon sex during birthday parties. "The dozen or so children would be running around the house like wild banshees and where was the mother? Satisfying the abuser's sexual demands, where else?" She still carries a load of guilt that she did not responsibly take care of the young guests.
Katherine felt like an object of sexual gratification to her abuser. She related countless stories of her husband grabbing her breasts in public. "He would simply grab hold and squeeze. If I shrugged him off he would squeeze all the harder and longer. The best I could do was to stand still and hope he finished groping me quickly."
She also told stories of her abuser not speaking to her for days on end for a feigned offense. She knew the silent treatment was over when he forced himself upon her. She felt like an object to him when she was required to perform upon his command. "No thoughts, feelings, or opinions were allowed."
Most women who will talk about their experiences of sexual abuse describe various strategies of a mental escape. Some women learn to disassociate themselves from the attack and watch dispassionately from outside their bodies. This allows the woman to get through his sexual advances without connecting to her abuser; other women simply turn off all emotions and put their thoughts on other things. Karen said she typically planned the week's menus and mentally wrote out her grocery list.
Sexual abuse is generally considered to be the most damaging of all the types that can be inflicted upon a woman. Each time her abuser forces himself upon her or forces her to do what she does not care to do he destroys another portion of her soul.
The Many Faces of Emotional Abuse Part 2
- The Many Faces of Emotional Abuse Part 3
- The Many Faces of Emotional Abuse Part 1
The best abusers never bruise the body. They aim for the heart and soul of their victim, instead.
- The Many Faces of Emotional Abuse Part 2
Emotional abuse leaves no visible scars but it takes a lifetime to heal the wounds.