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rape within relationships

A common myth surrounding rape and other forms of sexual violence is the belief that these crimes are most often perpetrated by strangers. In fact, through our experience of working with women and girls affected by sexual violence, we know that around 85% of survivors / victims know their attacker prior to the rape or assault and that often this violence is perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner.

Everyone has the right to say 'no' to sex on any occasion and under any circumstances, regardless of whether they've given consent to sex with that person in the past. Sex without consent is rape, whether it takes place within a marriage or any other kind of relationship.

Rape in marriage was criminalised as recently as 1982 in Scotland and 1991 in England. Before these dates a woman had no legal protection from rape by her husband. Fortunately, rape within marriage and other relationships is now clearly recognised within the law.

There are many reasons why some women stay in intimate relationships that are violent or abusive. These include:

  • societal pressures 
  • to prevent disruption to her children
  • a lack of alternatives e.g. financial constraints
  • fear that leaving might lead to further violence
  • shame about speaking out about what has happened
  • difficulty recognising or accepting what is happening
  • blaming themselves for what is happening
  • hope that their partner's behaviour will change

Staying in a relationship that involves or has involved sexual violence does not mean a woman is 'weak' or any less deserving of specialist support and justice than a woman raped in any other kind of circumstance. 

Find your nearest Rape Crisis Centre here.