“Darling,” he whispered in my ears. My eyes were half opened. I wasn’t sure of the time, but it was probably past midnight. He had just returned home. I was certainly not in the mood for sex. I had fallen asleep and he woke me up. I pulled the blanket and went back to sleep. But soon, I felt a big jolt. He was already naked and on top of me.
“Dear, I’m tired…” I tried pushing him away but he was too strong. His hands were choking my neck as he pounded away. I felt helpless and soon stopped resisting. When it was over, he rolled away and went to sleep. I felt confused over what had happened. More than that, I felt that he had forced himself on me, against my will. I was genuinely scared. I could see the strong determination in his eyes as he was pinning me down. But he was no stranger; he’s my own husband. Am I right to resist his request for sex?
Such incidence would occur several times in our marriage. I could not understand what was going on. I tried asking my friends in an indirect way. “Do you think a husband has a right to sex at all time, even if the wife refuses?” My friends would laugh it off. They would say things like, “Oh, you are lucky if your husband still wants sex from you!” or “Men are men. Just give them what they want!”
I don’t think any of my friends understood what I was going through. It’s not that I’m depriving my husband of his biological needs. But there were times when I was truly tired. Like this one time when I had a migraine and he was pestering me to sleep with him. And when I refused, he took me by force and I was practically struggling and screaming for him to stop. The next day, he would act as if nothing had happened. But I could not forget those nights he forced himself on me.
Rape. Yes, it did occur to me. But as soon as the word crossed my mind, I would push it away. There is no such thing as rape in a marriage. How could it be rape when the man is your own husband? But it certainly felt like one. I felt that I had no control over my own body; that it was robbed from me, against my wishes. I felt violated, fearful of what would happen if I resisted even harder. Would he punch me? Would be strangle me? But I’m his wife! I would cry the entire night whenever such episodes occur. I had no one to turn to.
You might wonder if these incidences had affected our marriage. Yes and no. We still continue to behave normally like husband and wife. We talk, we go out shopping, we catch a movie… But something had changed too. I felt more distant from him. I began to feel that the man I married is no longer the person I had known before. We never talked about this. It’s probably because I do not think that he felt anything wrong at all. He continues to show his caring and loving side. But when he wanted sex, and I refused, he suddenly turned into a different person – a person who would not stop until he gets what he wants. Even if he were to cause hurt to me.
Some weeks ago, I mustered the courage to seek help. I came across a news report on “marital rape”. That was the first time I heard of the term. It dawned upon me that I was probably suffering from the same thing. So, I called a helpline that caters to women who might undergo some form of sexual assault. The call was helpful. It puts me at ease. I was assigned a counsellor who walked me through the issue I was facing. I’m no longer confused now. I had even talked to my husband about his wrongful ways and the legal implications. He admitted his mistakes and promised to change. Will he? Time will tell. But at least I know now that my body cannot be violated without my consent. Even in marriage.