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Monday, November 8, 2010

Sexual Abuse in Marriage

This is a very difficult post to write.  For so many reasons.  My husband and I are in a really good place right now.  I have been able to function without any PTSD flare-ups for a while.  And my memories are sparse from this time period.

But it won't go away.  It needs to be written.  It is an area that I have just begun to process, so there is still a lot of pain; my heart is racing and tears are streaming as I write this.  It still hurts so much.

I do not intend to be offensive.  I do not intend to be descriptive.  However, I totally understand if you know me (or us) and don't want to read this. 

Sexual abuse in marriage is a tough thing to judge.  Only recently have laws changed that even acknowledge it.  For so long, being married meant consent -- no matter how it was taken advantage of.  Legally, there was no such thing as rape in a marriage.

Luckily, we aren't that blind anymore.

But abuse is a difficult thing to judge much of the time, no matter what kind.  When does it cross the line?

For years, I knew I was unhappy.  I knew something was terribly wrong.  I knew I was not being treated as a daughter of God should be.  I was not treated with value as a person.  But I wasn't sure it was abusive.  Now I am.

I have already written about how my husband was emotionally abusive.  How controlling he was.  And how I had no defenses against it.  I have hinted at other abuse.  But this time I am saying it.

For years, my husband was sexually abusive in our marriage.  To the point that I could have pressed charges?  I doubt it.  To the point that I should have divorced him?  Absolutely.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have.  If he were still like that now, I would.  Things have changed.

But I feel like I need to address this for others.  There are others who have experienced this or are experiencing this or are doing this.  They need someone to stand up and say it's not right.

I am standing up.  It is not right.

It's not about sexual practices.  It's not about whether or not to use toys.  It's not about location.  It's not about role play.  It's not about having a difference of opinion on what is appropriate and what is not.

It is about one person forcing their wants on their partner.  It's that simple.

Sometimes in a healthy marriage there is negotiation.  I don't really want to, but I will because I want you to be happy.  That's not what I'm talking about.

Honey, I am so uncomfortable with that.  I really don't want to.  Please don't ask me to do this.  Please don't make me do this.  Please don't do that.  No.  I said no.  Please, no.  Begging and pleading to be excused.  And so many tears.

That's what I'm talking about.

I am talking about becoming emotionally violent when he didn't get his way.  I am talking about refusing to speak to me for days until he got his way.  I am talking about being extremely mean to the kids until he got his way (men quickly learn that women will do almost anything to protect their children, even sacrifice themselves).  I am talking about withholding money until he got his way.  I am talking about punishing me and/or the kids in any way he could until he got his way.  I am talking about making me feel worthless for not meeting his needs; no, not needs - wants.  I am talking about expecting that it was my job to be the whore from porn movies.  Whenever and in whatever way he wanted.

I'm not talking about demanding sex.  Although, if one person is demanding it I think that is abusive.  I am talking about more than that.  I am talking about asking me to do things I found offensive.  I am talking about forcing things that were painful.  I am talking about taking away all of my value as a person and making me an object.

He had become my world.  He was the father of my children and the provider for our family.  He had become my lifeline.  He had rescued me from my life so he owned me.  Unfortunately, I think we both believed this.

I did not talk to anyone about this.  I was ashamed.  And it was taboo.  It was my problem to fix.

But he was my husband.  It was a mutual relationship.  What right did I have to say how the relationship would be?

It took me so many years to understand what was wrong.  I violated many of my principles for him, because he demanded it.  And then I felt so guilty.  I felt like it was my fault for giving in.  I felt so worthless for the thing I'd let him turn me into.  It's horrible to feel more like a whore than a wife.

We make the sacrifices we need to in order to survive.  That's what I did.  I used the only tool I had:  compliance.  Giving in.

It was the only way I knew to try to give my kids a normal life.  A life not filled with hatred and anger and fear.  A life where their dad loved them and loved their mom.

It's not like this anymore.  I have learned a lot about myself and my power to choose.  I have learned that in a sexual relationship it takes two yesses to make it right.  And only one no to make it wrong.

I have learned to trust and value myself.  He has learned a lot, too.

He didn't see it.  I have watched him grow to understand.  He will probably always be the gas and I will always be the brakes.  But I need that power to feel safe.

He knows that if that power is ever taken away from me, we will no longer be together.  I am worth more than that.

There is still a lot of pain.  Our past colors so much of our present.  Any type of anger in conjunction with sex can send me into instant PTSD.  We have a long way to go to heal this.

But I believe we can.  Because both of us have opened our eyes and seen what it was.  And we both hate what we see.


Survivor said...

My respect for you increases with each post. That took guts to share. I hope you know how strong you really are. You are loved by many, don't forget that!

Christine said...

That took a lot of courage and I'm glad you found it.
Sometimes abuse is a learned trait and I hope that was the case for your husband and that he has learned to "unlearn" it. My thoughts are with you and I'm glad you found the way to say "no".

Hope Despite Depression said...

You are such an amazingly strong person - and like the above comments, I too have so much respect for you - I too believe it took a LOT of guts to share your story, and I too believe it took courage.

By sharing your story you are helping so many other women who don't realize that they DO have a choice and that just because they are married that doesn't mean their husbands can do as they please with them.

I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter for two years and there were women there for this exact reason... it is rape if you don't consent to it - and marriage has nothing to do with it.

I'm so happy that you took a stance and realized how much you are worth - and that your husband is realizing this too...

It's hard enough dealing with similar issues from the past and dealing with PTSD only to have to deal with it in your own marriage...

I hope and pray that things continue to get better - and that your husband continues to learn how to respect you as a person and not just as something he owns... it sounds like you two are on the right path.


Brandy said...

You are so courageous! Your post will help others and I hope that things will continue to get better for you. Just want to share with you that there is an AWESOME bible study by Beth Moore called Breaking Free and it might help you in some way to deal with some of these things. God Bless you for sharing.

Running Circles said...

I wish I had the words, but I don't. Thank you for writing this.

LBDDiaries said...

Exactly! No means no and to push beyond that no is rape. Yes, husbands rape wives and get away with it. NO it is NOT right. It took me years, too, to get past it to the point I could forgive. I did forgive years after the divorce. I think it was only then I truly got past the triggers, flashbacks and dreams where you wake up crying, phew. This was one powerful post!!

LBDDiaries said...

Oh and by the way - always realize when you post things like this, there is an audience it is helping, always. (visiting from SITS Content tribe)

Birdie said...

Wowza. I believe you are a stronger woman then me. I have so much respect for you it's not funny!

Day said...

I wish people would talk about this more. Thank you.

Rachel said...

That was a really brave post. I hope you work things out. Thanks for your comment in my blog. Stopping by from SITS.

Angel said...

What an incredibly honest and brave post. To have already read that your husband reads and knows what you post makes it even more so. Kudos to you both.

LatteJunkie said...

I have no words.

A hugely powerful blog that I am afraid i can't follow... yet...

Thank you

Patricia Singleton said...

Thank you for sharing this painful subject. I thought, for years, that if I said no then my husband wouldn't love me. That wasn't true then and it isn't today.

I have been married to the same man for 38 years. We have grown through the worst and the best years together. Setting boundaries is never easy, especially when we never did before. We are so worth it.

LisaDay said...

You are a brave, strong, forgiving woman. Good luck to all of you to get through this.


Debbie Pinkston said...

I too experienced sexual abuse in marriage, and it took me a long time to realize that's what was going one. I just recently started a blog about this topic and I'm writing a book which will definitely be part of my healing, but hopefully will help other women who are dealing with sexual abuse in their marriage. There really isn't much out there on this topic and it's time to break the silence.

Thank you for sharing your story! Bless you!
My blog is: http://debbie-pinkston.blogspot.com/

Debbie Pinkston said...

My book on the topic of sexual abuse in marriage is finally published on Amazon! "To Love and to Cherish...facing sexual abuse in marriage" by D. Anne Pierce.

I pray that this book will be helpful to women who find themselves in a marriage that is sexually abusive.

Debbie Pinkston said...

Thank you for your honesty about this problem that is probably much more common than we realize. I was also in such a marriage.

I have written a book on Amazon "Sexual Abuse in Marriage" by D. Anne Pierce that discusses what constitutes sexual abuse in a marriage, and how to deal with it.

I hope it will be helpful to many women!

Anonymous said...

Is oral sex(kissing inside the vagina) abusive if the woman doesn't like it and her spouse keeps nagging her to do it?

Anonymous said...

I have such a huge knot in my throat as tears flow down my face. I just can't find the right words to thank you for your courage & for sharing your story. I would have never thought that I was being abused until now. I've always blamed myself for not being "perfect" for him so I just allowed his behavior... or should I say "abuse!" I'm not sure how I will put a stop to this but I know I will. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

In regard to oral sex: My husband tried to force me for years to do this and I wouldn't, but it created tremendous stress for me. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that oral sex isn't natural. That means it is "learned". A counselor clued me in on this. No one has the right to coerce or force anyone to do what they find offensive when it comes to sex. We finally divorced and I married a man who would never want me to violate my conscience in that regard. Thanks for addressing something that needs to be brought out in the open and discussed. My opinion is that if a man needs oral sex then he doesn't need a woman who was created by God with the right equipment for the job!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know someone else had lived the life I had. I was married for 20 years, the abuse started from day one. 7 years later, still fighting. I didn't know I was being abused until the very end and the anger still burns. I am only now able to face the fears which will give me the strength to carry on. I am strong, I had to be to endure, now that strength will make my life rich instead of being used to survive. Thank you for putting into words what I have been unable to.

Sharon Billings said...

After reading your blog, I have been inspired to start journaling my own nightmare of abuse. You are a very strong person, and you have come so far. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I've been married for 17 years and had done so many things that I'm ashamed of trying to please my husband... I feel that it's worse every time, he wants more and more and nothing makes him happy. I can't take it anymore. I never felt loved in bed, I feel like a hore

Anonymous said...

This was my life with my first husband. And I can/could tell no one. And he never thought he had a problem- it was me- i was prude, i was conservative, i just needed to be available whenever he wanted it. We actually had a Christian counselor tell us- me specifically- that i needed to relax more, and understand the man had needs. It made it worse. I lost myself. I shut down. I disappeared inside my own personal hell. I eventually found the strength to leave.

It took several years of being married to my very patient and loving and caring second husband before the "ptsd" of my past dissipated. It shows up every now and then, but God has blessed me with a man who respects my boundaries and we serve each other, not ourselves in our relationship.

My children cannot understand why I had to divorce their dad. This isn't something i can share with them….

Anonymous said...

What I need to know is... how do you forgive and heal WITH your husband? Even if he's starting to understand and want to make things right, the face of your abuser is always there. Every touch is the touch of the man who abused and hurt you. All advice out there is assuming you're trying to reclaim your sexuality with a new partner who understands your situation but... how do you reclaim your sexuality with the man who damaged you in the first place? This blog helped show me that it is possible but I do not understand HOW.

Michelle said...

THIS is my question too :(

Anonymous said...

Everything in this post describes my situation to a "T" only he's gone now and I can't seem to recover or move on and silence seems to be the only thing I hear from God in my life now

Anonymous said...

Hello Sisters,
I join you on this amazing healing journey! I am a 25 year survivor with 8 beautiful children. I want to point out that often times we are coming from backgrounds of emotional and sexual traumas endured as children...we then end up choosing life partners who do not connect sexual behavior with love. Something inside of us sees them as safe, for many of us, when they are anything but. Once we are in full relationship with them, the negative behaviors begin or escalate. The more we capitulate our power, because we've already been preprogrammed through our parenting, the more control we give them. I would even go so far as to say that we eventually begin to embrace our emotional pain because its the only thing that makes us feel alive. We end up trapped in a negative emotional loop and stay for our own irrational reasons...usually our children and more often than I'd like to admit, but our religious ideaologies. We don't speak about what's happening to us because, again, we've been trained to keep our mouths shut about what happens in our "intimate time"...which is anything but intimate. We finally come to the place of an emotional breakdown and realize we can't go any further. If we try to establish boundaries that were never there, he gets nervous and clamps down even harder. He lacks the relationship skills to understand or see our point of view, let alone communicate effectively. We see him as being consumed by his own needs and not actually needing a life's partner so much as he needed a sex slave. I could go on forever. I am still in the marriage, though I came to the place of leaving many times in the last 3 years. We did the counseling thing. If you don't end up with one that knows how to deal with your situation you're wasting your time and money or worse, you could suffer much longer by unwise counsel. My name is Christina.

Anonymous said...

So sad. Wish I didn't understand.

Anonymous said...

Very brave to stay. Good luck in saving your husband.
I left my marriage for the same reason. I would not have survived otherwise. My story is more perverse and i wasnt safe. Theres no way i could share it because of my kids.
Just know there are many good people out there suffering all kinds of humilliation in their marriages.

Anonymous said...

i got here by way of a google search on marital sexual abuse. and i am thankful that i found you. i am where you were. i frequently wake up with him inside me or he will wake me up in the middle of the night to have sex. is it because i am super sexy when i am asleep? i know that isn't it... it is a form of control and that is what gives him his power. it's degrading, it is shameful to me. i can't talk to anyone face to face and it feels like i am drowning with the weight of this. to the point where he will get in the shower and urinate on me because he thinks that is hot. and he laughs while i cry... as much as i hate other people feel this way, there is something somewhat healing knowing i am not alone. i am more than this. i deserve better.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to find much help with this, as I too am dealing with a sexually abusive husband. He has just started therapy and wants to stay committed, however, I do not know how to get over all that has happened in our 15 years of marriage. I did feel like a whore...the price I paid to have a privileged life and home for our kids. I tried hard to become perfect in hopes of getting the love and treatment I deserved in the marriage. I developed an eating disorder as a result of blaming myself for not being good enough to deserve better. He doesn't work in extremes , he will not get caught legally. He is charming to all who meet him, and he says he never realized he had done those things to me. I am left to believe that I am crazy and unjustified for my feelings. I know he is wrong, and as much as he tells me he loves me now, is it too little too late?Where can I get help? Can I still be in this marriage if he does change?

Anonymous said...

I am glad I found this forum. There is NOTHING publicized about this. I was sexually misused in our marriage for the first 12 years. Sickening stuff to me that he protested was "normal" fantasy fun.

Parading around in high heels and fish net stockings in the winter, freezing. The "spankings" and all of the costumes. He spent hundreds of dollars buying me every kind of character.

My kids wonder why I resent him so much. He thinks we should be having great sex now that we are middle-aged and the kids are getting a little older. He stole my sexual youth from me. I don't want to reconcile with him. I don't feel he deserves it. He is still whole; I am left with a piece missing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much for your bravery in discussing this and for posting it for all to consider. You see, I'm a man who has just been accused of this by a troubled wife that I filed for divorce from. It's a mortifying situation, as someone who still loves her. She has a deep, sad history of ten years of extreme childhood sexual abuse followed by extensive relationship problems through life. Problems she never sought counseling for until I started getting her to go after marriage. Unfortunately, she wouldn't stay with it due to the devastatingly painful, buried emotions from her past that it brought up. Instead, she would take her emotions out on me. Her volatility, rage, depression, and anxiety controlled our short marriage, until she finally made threats and accusations that were unacceptable... no natter how much I love her. As middle-aged adults, the occasional, mildly adventurous sex we shared, between our normal more gentle lovemaking, was actually initiated by her stated curiosities and desires. So her accusations are extremely distressing and depressing to me. But in reading through your stories to look for understanding, it's clear to me that this scenario does not describe what we had. Thank you for sharing. Like you, I continue to see our former marital counselor to help me through this troubling time by better understanding how the horrors my wife experienced before meeting me affected her thoughts and behaviors in our relationship. Keep your spirits up, ladies, and continue to seek support and an understanding of yourselves and your experiences, as I will. We'll be better people for it. You have my admiration and respect.

Anonymous said...

Sexual abuse within a marriage is something no one will talk about or acknowledge. When I realized what my now-Ex was sexually abusing me (waking me up at night for sex, coercing me into sex right after I had the baby etc), I told him to stop touching me and then filed for divorce. Divorce was the best thing I did for myself. Why have sex if it's degrading and painful? There is no reason.

Anonymous said...

Does 1 Corinthians 7:5 describe a sexual abuse that people force on their spouse? My spouse hasn't even touched me for years. I am so lonely and sad. Is sex abusive when it is used to reward and punish? My spouse says there is no love for me. How I wish I could be held.

Anonymous said...

How can a person tell you they love you with all their heart and they hurt you soo much. I recent my husband for not respecting me after having our child, when returning from my mothers funeral, when I have been sick and after an uncles death. Wanting to be intimate instead of comforting your spouse is having no shame or respect for them.