What is sexual abuse in a marriage?

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | DIVORCE - Domestic Violence |

Sexual abuse in a marriage occurs when one partner forces or coerces the other into unwanted sexual activity. Consent is the foundation of all sexual interactions, and within a marriage, it is no different. When consent is absent, ignored or violated, it constitutes abuse and even rape. Sexual abuse in a marriage can take many forms, and you must recognize the signs so that you can seek help if you are experiencing it.

What sexual abuse in a marriage can look like

In Georgia, the law defines marital sexual abuse as any unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact or behavior that one spouse imposes on the other. It can consist of a range of behaviors, including the following:

  • Coercion: Pressuring a spouse into sexual acts through threats, manipulation or intimidation
  • Non-consensual acts: Engaging in sexual activities without consent, even if previously consented to similar acts
  • Force: Using physical force or the threat of force to compel a spouse into sexual acts
  • Exploitation: Taking advantage of a spouse who is not in a position to give consent, such as when they are asleep, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or have a mental health condition

Forcing a partner to engage in sexual activities that they do not want to do and ignoring a partner’s boundaries or desires during sexual activity is sexual abuse. It is important to remember that sexual abuse in a marriage can be subtle and may not always be physical. Emotional manipulation and coercion can be just as harmful as physical violence.

Do not tolerate sexual abuse, especially from your spouse

Sexual abuse in any form is unacceptable. In a marriage, where trust and respect should be paramount, it is especially vile. You have legal protections available, and there are ways to ensure your safety and seek justice. Marriage does not give your spouse control over your body. It is yours, and only you can decide when you want to have sex.