By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
In light of April being national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we at See The Triumph thought that it was important to discuss the way that sexual assault can be used as a form of abuse within intimate relationships. As discussed in some previous blogs, intimate partner violence (IPV) is complex and can occur within a relationship in numerous different ways. Typically when we think of partner violence we think of physical or emotional abuse--name calling, put downs, hitting, slapping, etc.--but, sexual abuse also may occur in abusive relationships.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence asserts that approximately 2.3 million people each year in the United States are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former partner. Sexual assault does not play a role in all abusive relationships; however, just because an abusive partner has not used this tactic yet, does not mean that he/she will not use it in the future. A common belief is that sexual assault ‘doesn’t count’ when individuals are in a committed relationship. The fact is that regardless of relationships status, unwanted sexual activity is sexual assault.
The term sexual assault seems pretty straight forward, but it can play out in intimate relationships in numerous different ways. Here are a few forms of sexual assault:
Sexual assault is not about passion, love or sexuality--it is about power and control.
Individuals who deal with sexual assault as part of IPV go through many different emotions, ranging from guilt to embarrassment. We all need to work together to end the stigma associated with both IPV and sexual assault. When we blame a victim or try to rationalize the situation that they were put in, we are perpetuating these stigmas. Even more so, we are telling the abusers that sexual assault is OK. It's important to recognize and discuss sexual assault awareness not only in April, but as much as possible. Remember: Sexual assault no matter your relationships status is illegal, and never OK.