Added: September 5, 2015 – Last updated: September 5, 2015


Authors: Jennifer A. Bennice and Patricia A. Resick

Title: Marital Rape

Subtitle: History, Research, and Practice

Journal: Trauma, Violence, & Abuse

Volume: 4

Issue: 3

Year: July 2003

Pages: 228-246

ISSN: 1524-8380 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1552-8324 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Types: Marital Rape


Link: ResearchGate (Free Access)

Link: SAGE Journals (Restricted Access)


Authors: Patricia A Resick, School of Medicine, Boston UniversityResearchGate


»Despite the increased recognition that the topic of marital rape has generated in the past 2 decades, the literature in this area remains sparse. This article provides a comprehensive review of the current state of the marital rape literature. First, the lengthy history of legal, cultural, and professional invalidation of marital rape victims, and the resulting negative treatment implications, is discussed. Second, marital rape research is reviewed, including prevalence, descriptive, and comparison studies. This review highlights the seriousness of marital rape, in terms of prevalence and posttrauma distress, as well as the limitations of extant research. Finally, barriers to treatment and recommendations for professionals are discussed.« (Source: Trauma, Violence, & Abuse)

»The literature review is restricted to an examination of marital rape in the United States. Over the past two decades, with the substantial influence of advocates, States have changed their laws regarding marital rape. In 1986 the Federal Sexual Abuse Act criminalized marital rape on all Federal lands. On July 5, 1993, marital rape became a crime in at least 1 section of the sexual offense codes in all 50 States. By 1996, 16 States had completely repealed their marital rape exemptions, and 33 States had partially repealed their exemptions. Although legal reforms have helped victims define and report their experiences as well as seek legal recourse, marital rape is still not legally handled as though it is as serious as other forms of rape. The widespread cultural belief that marital rape is not "real" rape has invalidated victims' traumatic experiences and limited the identification of these crimes and the provision of services to victims. Marital rape is as prevalent as other forms of rape and is prevalent among battered women. Marital rape victims often experience multiple traumatic experiences, putting them at greater risk for severe posttrauma distress. It results in serious medical, emotional, and mental health consequences for its victims. Still, marital rape victims are reluctant to report their victimization to the authorities and seek help because the typical victim has been exposed to lengthy abuse and control within her intimate relationship, which places her in a mental state of helplessness. Also, an implicit threat of violence often looms over battered women, so raped wives may fear retaliation by their abusers if they seek help. Medical professionals should routinely and sensitively assess for marital rape, especially when physical and psychological abuse within a marital relationship is suspected.« (Source: NCJRS Abstracts Database)


  Invalidation of Marital Rape (p. 228)
    Legal Invalidation (p. 228)
    Cultural Invalidation (p. 231)
  Research on Marital Rape (p. 234)
    Prevalence Studies (p. 234)
    Descriptive Studies (p. 236)
    Comparison Studies (p. 238)
  Treatment Recommendations (p. 239)
    Professional Invalidation (p. 239)
    Barriers to Treatment (p. 240)
    Recommendations for Professionals (p. 241)
  Conclusions (p. 243)
  Implications for Practice, Policy, and Research (p. 243)
  Note (p. 243)
  References (p. 243)
  Suggested Future Readings (p. 245)

Wikipedia: Marital rape