Marital Rape

Q: I've been married 16 years, since I was 18, and I have three wonderful children with a man who has been there for me for so long. Recently, I was taking pain medicine, and when I was sleeping, I was completely out of it. In the middle of the night, my husband took advantage of me. The intercourse hurt me, and the next day I kept crying and tried to pretend it didn't bother me although I was bleeding from it. The following day I told him how disgusted I was with him. He keeps telling me that he is sorry, but even when he hugs me I cringe. I haven't slept with him now for two weeks. I can't believe this has happened to me. Can our relationship survive? -- Tammy

Dr. Susan: Rape in any form can be traumatizing. That your own husband could hurt you while you were in no condition to consent has made it seem as though your marriage is no longer a place of safety. Still, since you've had a good marriage to this point, and your husband has said he's sorry, you might consider giving him the benefit of the doubt this once. It's possible he may have been half-asleep when he began making love to you, and since you didn't stop him, he kept going. This is not such an uncommon scenario! I want to assume he didn't realize he was hurting you. More importantly: What is his explanation?

You might also think about whether you're angry at him for additional offenses. Has he behaved brutishly at other times? To patch things up, you need to air out any grievances you've been harboring. I can see that your reaction to this incident is very intense. You may benefit from talking to someone who can help you get past it. Of course, your husband is the one who caused you the pain, and he should be involved in helping you deal with it. If you can eventually get back in touch with your good feelings toward him, your relationship can certainly survive this low point.

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