Many people have a hard time seeing sexual abuse as a reality in some marriages. But it is very real, and it's more common than you might think.
Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact. Not just by a stranger. Not just by a friend. Not even just by a family member. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone by anyone, even your own spouse.
Here are seven signs your husband is sexually abusing you (and what you can do about it):
Sexual abuse and physical abuse are usually linked, so if a victim is experiencing sexual abuse, he or she is most likely also being physically abused by the same person.
If you agree to sex only because he threatens to hurt you physically or emotionally, it's sexual abuse. This could come in the form of threats to hit you, leave you or even harm your children.
Experts say sexual abuse includes being forced to participate in any degrading, unwanted or unsafe sexual act. This means even if you consent to sex with your husband, it's still abuse if you asked him to wear protection and he refuses.
Sexual abuse includes any situation where someone forces you to do uncomfortable intimate acts. If you're comfortable using protection, your partner should respect and uphold that.
Forcing his own opinions on you regarding birth control, pregnancy and/or abortion is sexual abuse. These are major decisions that both you and your spouse should seriously be considered together.
Withholding sex to get what you want is considered both psychological and sexual abuse. It's a form of manipulation meant to control the other person. The healthy way to solve problems in your marriage is through communication and counseling, not by withholding love or sex.
If he touches you inappropriately even after you told him no, that's sexual abuse. If he's in the mood and you aren't and he takes it anyway, that's sexual abuse. Any form of sexual contact, whether it involves rape or not, is considered sexual abuse and should never be taken lightly.
It's your body. When you say "no," he should respect that. Intimacy is a mutual decision between two people whether or not they are married.
Sexual harassment ranges from degrading remarks to inappropriate physical contact. This includes your spouse insulting your body and your looks. Your sweetheart should not shame you for the way you look — a loving husband will never harm your self-esteem.
Just because you're married doesn't mean your body belongs to your husband. A healthy sexual relationship involves two people who respect each other and will never force the other to do something uncomfortable or harmful.
If your husband is sexually abusing you, seek help. Reach out to trusted family members, friends and even a therapist.
Contact the U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). You can also chat online to receive support, information and advice from a trained specialist.
With the support of your family and friends, you can find the strength to escape an abusive relationship so you can feel safe again.