I May Have Been Sexually Assaulted…..by my partner?

(04/03/2015) Amber Batchelor, Director of Special Programs, Safe Nest

Where do you go to get help to discover the answer to that question? Who can you trust to support you in all of the steps of your healing while you’re discovering your answer to a question that strikes at the very core of who you know yourself to be?

If you are in Southern Nevada you can begin the journey to your answer at Safe Nest where for over 38 years we have been the starting place for those beyond-belief-impossible-to-answer questions.  Throughout that time we’ve supported countless people with a safe place to ask the unaskable.

Domestic abuse is about power and control. It’s generally defined as a “a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that may include inflicted physical injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, stalking, deprivation, intimidation and threats. These behaviors are perpetrated by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent, and are aimed at establishing control by one partner over the other”. (www.nnadv.org)

Sexual assault is about power and control. The Department of Justice notes “sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient”.  (www.justice.gov/ovw/sexual-assault)

Many victims living in relationships where there is domestic violence also experience intimate partner sexual assault (IPSAV).  This can result in severe and long-lasting consequences different from other rape survivors:

  • Despite the myth that sexual violence committed by a partner doesn’t have as negative an impact as stranger sexual violence, research suggests that the trauma can be longer lasting.
  • They may experience higher levels of physical injury
  • Many survivors of IPSV suffer multiple sexual assaults; some of which are committed by the partner to humiliate, punish and show their victim how much power they have over them.
  • IPSV victims are (like other domestic abuse victims) advised by their families, their church, or friends that they should be grateful that the perpetrator is a good father, good provider, etc.
  • Unlike in sexual assaults committed by others, IPSV victims may be financially dependent on their perpetrator.  They’re generally reluctant to disclose their victimization during legal proceedings which impacts protective order, divorce and custody cases.
  • They may have difficulty defining the act/s as sexual assault since we are socialized to see rape and sexual assault as involving non-consensual sex between two strangers. Additionally, there may be reluctance to define someone they love as a “rapist.”
  • Women who have been raped as well as battered may suffer greater damage to self-esteem and experience increased “body issues”.

The above information contained in: P Easteal & L McOrmond-Plummer, 2006 Real Rape Real Pain

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  If some of this information has raised questions for you please call the Safe Nest domestic violence hotline at 702.646.4981.

If you are a survivor and want to help others reach that place in their personal journey or someone who just wonders what you can do, make a donation  http://www.safenest.org/give-help/donate/ so that we can continue to be the place where the difficult questions can begin to get answered.