Should betrayal through infidelity be considered rape?
What do they have in common?
What aren’t we saying when we hear a woman say her husband has been unfaithful?
When her partner says to her:
· “It was just once,” or
· “They didn’t mean anything to me,” or
· “I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again,” or
· “I didn’t know what I was doing,” or
· “It wasn’t about you.”
BUT IT IS. It is always about the partner. It is “about me.” Period.
(Please note, I’m not dismissing the severity of an addiction and the need for the addict to receive help so hold your horses before you criticize this article for being insensitive towards the addict!)
Let’s not stick to identifying infidelity as a symptom of an addiction and dismiss how the partner feels.
She FEELS like she has been raped. I hear that over and over. Maybe she hasn’t found the correct words to express it but when the addict or the unfaithful brings their partner into the most intimate, vulnerable setting of her life in which she allows herself to be exposed sexually, without knowing the truth, she (and yes, or he) feels like she has been raped.
And many betrayed partners are raped over and over and over. For years.
Wait a minute! That is a pretty narrow-minded word to describe simple infidelity or even pornography use, right? Come on, it can’t be all that bad.
Well, let’s look a little deeper if you are questioning my use of the word: RAPE.
The definition of rape is:
A type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is capable of giving valid consent. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape)
Within the RAPE definition, I’d like you to observe the following:
1. The definition of assault: the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault)
Notice “unwanted physical contact.” Most partners do not want physical contact for a period of time once they discover the truth about a betrayer’s behavior thus, partners are being “assaulted” because they do not have the truth and if they could CONSENT, most would abstain. This leads me to the crux of the issue:
2. “against a person who in incapable of giving valid consent”. A wife who has no idea their spouse is cheating, either through hiding pornography use or affairs, CANNOT give consent to having sex because she does not have all the facts.
Consent would look like this:
Question: “Hey babe, wanna have sex?”
Response: “Sure, I’d be happy to have sex, Hunny. Just make sure you shower after you get done with the hooker.”
This is consent. Informed consent. All parties know their risks, all parties know what safety measures need to be taken, and all parties can either say “yes” or “no.”
Thus, my conclusion is that the word “assault” combined with “against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent” constitutes the valid use of the word “rape”.
(Sometimes being blunt is necessary in our society. And I like blunt because everyone knows where I stand. You can CONSENT to continue to read this blog or you can move on to something less abrasive. However, I would encourage you to continue reading.)
The revelation of infidelity being synonymous with rape haunts me because I have watched the faith-based community tiptoe around this issue and repeatedly dismiss wives, encouraging them to work through a husband’s infidelity incorrectly quoting, “God hates divorce.” (Malachi 2:16)
As if divorce is more sinful than infidelity.
The wives come to me wondering what is wrong with them? Why can’t they just get over it and move on? And my answer- the church is not speaking truth to our families because the ramifications of infidelity equaling rape are devastating. If we as a faith-based society are promoting that raping women (or men) is easy to “get over” under the guise of infidelity, we go against the doctrine of “loving your neighbor” and “honoring your wife” and “what is sin? Who is guilty of sin?” Where does the burden of stopping this blind madness originate? Who is responsible?
It is critical that society understands how deception combined with intimate physical touch destroy a woman’s sense of safety. Why aren’t we treating betrayed partners with the same sensitivity as a rape victim?
You would never, ever ask a rape victim to get over it and have sex again with a rapist, would you?
Sadly, I believe men who commit adultery just do not realize the severity of the anguish and destruction they burden their partners with. Understanding this should help explain why it is so hard for relationships and marriages to overcome infidelity.
One of my colleagues submitted this photo in her blog (https://beyondbetrayal.community/the-sa-orphans-part-2/ ). It is a child’s depiction of her abuser. And this resonated with me as I see women being told to forgive, forgive and forgive their partners. While forgiveness is a necessary step towards healing, it cannot happen unless we name the evil or the hidden facets of infidelity. Once truth and facts are named, healing can occur. That is the beauty of faith- I believe God flourishes in truth and my belief is that relationships can heal if truth is spoken. It’s not easy but the odds are greatly improved when truth is available.
I am so, so sorry there is an enormous population of sexual addictions and behaviors leading to infidelity. I feel grief for both sides of the table as I watch too many relationships flounder after being hit with the realization that their relationships are marred by deceit.
Let’s not continue the deceit by hiding and denying the devastating effects of pornography or infidelity.
There is hope and relationships can be restored but only if we speak truth.
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