Marital Rape: An Example and Its Aftermath
It was frigid in Kansas City and Gwen was colder than she’d ever been. It was very early in the morning and she could barely make out the streetlights because of the falling snow. She just couldn’t go back to the house, would most likely be beaten by her husband, Tony. She thought about it long and hard and decided to endure the weather as much as she could. She had hazy thoughts about a shelter but couldn’t remember where it was or how to get there. It would certainly be better than being outdoors.
Gwen was seven months pregnant and it had been a difficult pregnancy to say the least. The baby was conceived when Tony when raped her. This happened two days after their wedding. They had had sex before but none like that night. He grabbed her in the hall and dragged her by her hair to the bedroom. She never expected what happened next. He literally ripped her clothes off and spread her legs. If he had wanted to have sex, she was more than willing but not like this. Tony beat her on her face, arms, legs, and pubic area. He rammed into her like a bull and Gwen began to scream. She said “no” many times but was beaten some more. She soon learned to be quiet. She didn’t want to be beaten any more, but it seemed to get worse instead of better. She cried and cried and cried. Nothing seemed to faze him. The beatings took on a regular tempo. She tried making sounds like she was having an orgasm or that she enjoyed what was being done to her, but nothing seemed to stop the beatings. This happened three or four nights a week over the next couple months. Then, she didn’t have her period. She was pregnant. She knew it. For some reason, Gwen felt she couldn’t tell Tony about the baby. She was deathly afraid of him and shuddered when she thought what would happen to a baby with Tony in the house. Her abuse continued for the next seven months. Tony wouldn’t talk to her. When she talked to him, he wouldn’t respond. He was drinking all the time and Gwen finally felt she had no choice but to leave Tony. So, on this night, she walked out the door when Tony was gone and soon disappeared into the cold night.
Marital Rape : Aftermath
The story of Gwen and Tony is all too familiar to poor families in our inner cities. Gwen may not have known she could get help for Tony’s beatings. Why didn’t she try to get help sooner? How could she feel so lost that she didn’t know where to turn for help. Even if she sought help, what would Tony say and how would he react? She had no money. Presumably, Tony was working somewhere doing something but evidently not making enough beyond money for food and rent.
It appears that males in poor regions of the country treat their wives, girlfriends, and other women like this with alarming regularity. The harsh reality is that it seems to be getting worse instead of better for poor women in Gwen’s circumstances. She had no access to healthcare beyond what she saw on TV. The cost appeared to be too much and location too far away, especially with the cold winter. Many women like Gwen die in their homes because of these factors. In some regions of our cities, men are arrested for domestic violence but let go due to the unwillingness of the women to testify against them fearing further abuse.
Marital Rape : Solutions
The solutions to these problems are difficult to discern. While federal government programs designed to combat violence against women may be available, their funding and ability to exist are drying up year by year. Facilities that care for these women are threatened by too little money and overwhelming caseloads for those services that can survive the funding cuts. One improvement may be increased public funds to create more accessible resources to deal with this violence against women. However, if poor women don’t know about them, the lack of education about these resources means they serve only a small number of affected women. Another solution may be simple door knocking and other face-to-face encounters with women in their homes or apartments. This prong of the solution makes a possible resource more personal and easier to access. However, again, public money has to be able to fund enough of these services to keep up with the tragic demand. Another solution may be to just elevate awareness of the need for battered women’s services through marches and protest rallies. However, these are often one-instance proposals with no long term effects on the women who need services and the ability to use them. So, public money, increased points of service, and the development of increased awareness appear to carry equal weight when dealing with the issue of battered women. One can only guess what this lack of response to the issue will be. One thing is certain, the number of women needing this protection and level of service will only increase unless something dramatic takes place.