The honeymoon did not last long. First there was controlling behavior and arguments, which escalated to loud, cruel verbal attacks and increasingly violent physical abuse. If Sara said she was not “in the mood” Mark raped her*. The next day he would smile and bring her flowers, which only added to her shame and confusion.
When Sara got pregnant, things seemed to get a little better. Then shortly after the baby was born, he raped her again. The baby was sleeping in the bassinet right next to them. “I looked over at my daughter and that was a wake-up moment for me.” She did not want her daughter to grow up thinking this was a healthy relationship or that abuse was okay. The next day Sara left to stay with a friend and contacted SHALVA.
We assume intimate relationships are always consensual — leading to the common misconception that sexual abuse cannot happen between individuals in dating relationships and marriages. But this is far from the truth. Sexual assault can happen in a committed relationship, and it is rarely an isolated incident. It is one more way an abuser can control an intimate partner or spouse, just like emotional and physical abuse.
If you have experienced rape or sexual abuse in your relationship, SHALVA will listen without judgment and help you find safety and peace.
*Marital rape has been illegal in Illinois since 1992.