Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 433-443

First online:

Marital Rape: Is the Crime Taken Seriously Without Co-occurring Physical Abuse?

  • Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling
  • , Candice M. Monson

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This vignette study was conducted to determine how observers' beliefs about marital rape are altered by the knowledge of a prior history of husband-to- wife physical violence. Participants (n = 50 college students) read three different marital rape situations; in one situation the husband had been physically violent in the past; in another he had not. In the third situation, participants were not given any information about the physical abuse history between the spouses. As expected, participants blamed the victim most for the marital rape and minimized the seriousness of the rape when they had been told that there was not a prior history of husband-to-wife physical abuse. These findings suggest that observers use a physical violence history to establish the coercion needed to determine that marital rape had occurred. The legal implications of these findings are discussed.

marital rape spouse abuse