Why Doesn’t A Victim Of Marital Rape Just Get A Divorce?

Posted: May 15, 2015

Often, we assume that a victim of marital rape (or domestic violence in general) should be able to walk out of her marriage easily. Here’s why it doesn’t happen.

It does seem to be a simple solution. A direct and easy way out of a troublesome marriage is to break away from it. The easiest way to move away from a spouse who violates you is to leave him/her.

But is reality that simple? Is it that straightforward?

In India, marriage is an institution. It is a sacred institution. You have to respect it. You have to stand by it. More often than not, there is an unsaid, yet heavy clause hanging by that: “You have to stand by it (or else)”.

The inherent conceptions, perceptions and opinions about marriage are influenced by patriarchy and closeted ‘common sense’. These play a stifling role in warping the minds of victims – of marital rape, or of domestic violence in general – who may want to speak out.

These are some questions that victims may grapple with:

  • My spouse violated me. My spouse, who was supposed to be my supportive partner, pushed themselves on me. Will I get support, relief from anybody, now that my closest aid is the problem?
  • Is this part of the marital arrangement that I entered into? Maybe I should just keep quiet and keep ‘private’ issues  as private
  • Should I tell my parents? Will it affect my ties with them?
  • What if I tell my parents and they do not support me, let alone help me? What if my parents just tell me to “adjust”?
  • Shall I tell my spouse’s parents? Will they take me seriously? Maybe they will understand me. But will they ridicule me? Will they try to show me in a bad light? What if they ultimately support their own ward, at my expense?
  • Can I tell my friends? Will they take me seriously? Will they be brave enough to stand by me?
  • What if I voice out my troubles to these parties and I get no help? What will happen then? My spouse will know that I talked. What if he begins treating me worse? Will I just be stuck with my spouse?
  • If I get divorced, what will the society think of me? Will they not speak ill of me? My family’s respect and dignity will be at stake. My children’s lives could be affected with all the ill-thought out opinions that will fly around. So will voicing out my troubles be really worth it?

These are just a few scenarios that may play out in a victim’s mind, warping their minds against doing what is best for them.

So if divorce does appear to be a simple way out, just think about it more. There is more to it.

There is so much more.

First posted at the author’s blog

Sad eyes of a woman pic via Shutterstock

Lackadaisical engineer. Student journalist. Football is love. Jam is ecstasy. Dogs: heaven. Reading = breathing. Madras

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  1. All these points apply when a woman is filing. marital rape case against their spouse. And filing such a case would lead to divorce most certainly. So how is charging marital rape on your spouse different from filing for divorce ? The only sensible thing is to include marital rape as a valid reason for a woman to demand divorce.

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