A review of marital rape


Journal Article (Review)

The current paper represents a comprehensive review of marital rape, including its legal history and numerous aspects of its perpetration and victimization. Specifically, this review focuses on theories and forms of marital rape, the scope of the problem, risk factors, resistance strategies, and marital rape's psychological and physical effects, and help-seeking behaviors and interventions for victims. Historically, marital rape has not been recognized as a criminal act; only recently has marital rape become illegal in all 50 states. Marital rape is a serious societal issue that is experienced by 10% to 14% of all married women and 40% to 50% of battered women. Marriages in which marital rape occurs have significantly higher rates of non-sexual violence and marital dissatisfaction, as well as lower ratings of marital quality. Victims who resist marital rape often employ verbal means of resistance. However, most of marital rape victims are either unable or afraid to resist sexual aggression by their husbands. Victims of marital rape experience significant levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, gynecological problems, and negative physical health symptoms. Victims of marital rape seek help from a variety of different resources. Seeking help from social service agencies and the law appears to be the most effective behaviors for ending marital rape. Stress inoculation therapy and cognitive processing therapy are promising treatments for victims of marital rape. The literature on marital rape is characterized by considerable methodological problems, and further research is needed to gain a better understanding of this problem.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Martin, EK; Taft, CT; Resick, PA

Published Date

  • May 1, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 329 - 347

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1359-1789

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.avb.2006.10.003

Citation Source

  • Scopus