Spousal Rape: Not a Crime in the U.S. Until After 1979
Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex wherein the offender is the victim’s spouse. This, now considered, criminal act, which is widely experienced by women, though is also committed against me, is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Marital rape often takes place within abusive relationships; it is also chronic or repeated form of violence instead of just a one-time occurrence.
Until 1979, however, U.S. citizens held the belief that no man could ever be held guilty of raping his wife. This belief is rooted from the English common law, which is actually the source of various traditional laws in the U.S., which said that it was legally impossible for a man to be pronounced guilty of raping his wife. This is due to a woman’s implied permanent consent, which could never be retracted, once she enters into a marital union.
A spousal rape conviction after 1979, however, totally changed America’s view regarding the act of rape happening between married individuals. The conviction was based on invasion and sexual abuse while the couple was in the middle of a divorce. The importance of this conviction, however, rested on the fact that that the merits of the decision was not exclusively confined in case, but rather served as a precedence to so many other spousal rape cases and convictions from the 1980s to the 1990s. Due to these early convictions, state criminal codes’ definition of rape no longer excludes spouses as victims. Besides this, refusing intimate time with one’s husband is no longer considered ground for divorce and, probably the most importance consequence of the early court pronouncements: spousal rape is now declared illegal in every state in the U.S.
As explained by the Nashville spousal rape lawyers at Horst Law, married individuals may be charged with spousal rape if they engage in sexual penetration that is unlawful because it is alleged that the defendant was armed with a weapon, caused serious bodily harm, or the couple has been separated and at least one partner has filed for either divorce or separate maintenance. A charge of spousal rape can be elevated to aggravated sexual assault if the defendant was particularly vile, cruel, or otherwise inhumane and either caused serious bodily harm or was armed with a weapon.