Unlikely sisterhood - Marital/spousal/partner sexual assault
In honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month:
Late last night, or I should say, early this morning - I found myself wandering the net in search of a story to highlight in honor of April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I could highlight my own story, but since I've been there and done that so much, I wanted to show other examples of marital/spousal sexual assault. A crime that affects many but also one that is rarely discussed or ever really considered a crime.
I found a link to a rather recent news story out of San Diego. It was on the sentencing of Shawn Harris who had just been convicted of such a crime against his estranged wife, Crystal.
Within seconds of reading the background into the crime, I felt as if I couldn't breathe...I couldn't believe what was before my eyes. Her story, was so very much like my story, it was eerie.
They too had a long term marriage...
They too had two young sons, and the children were home when the crime took place...
Prior to the sexual assault, she reported that she lived in fear as he allegedly, and often, threatened to kill her....just like in my situation - a year of threats on how my now ex husband, then said, how he would strangle me..or stab me...kill me after he raped me...and how he would burn down the house.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I read the account of her story...
And then came the kicker...
Just like me, and after so much time of living in fear of threats....she was able to audio record the physical, emotional and sexual assault that eventually led to Shawn being convicted and sentenced. And just like in my case, her husband attempted to say it wasn't sexual assault but "role playing" - And, just like her story...anyone who listens to the audio recordings can tell you what is heard is pure terror...in my case my children witnessed first hand.
It brought tears to my eyes to know that a woman on the other side of this country experienced almost exactly the same things that I did...that the tragic end of my marriage did, and she knew the fear I lived in, and I knew hers.
Then I read more on her and found out that like me, she had a mission to educate the public about domestic violence and sexual assault....especially marital sexual assault.
It was in an odd way...comforting to read her story.
I then read the comments under the headline and article....there, I read the whispers of judgment of those who didn't know, but thought they did.....just like in my case, what my children and I dealt with here in this small community after it become known what had happened to us.
My heart sank for her - I know the sting of dealing and facing those judgments - as strong, stubborn and determined I may be - and I am sure she is, I know the ache of trying to fall asleep at night with all the events of life playing out in your head.
In what I read, like me...she has a fear...of when he gets out of prison and what will happen then - however, like me, that fear does not stop her from telling her story and moving forward.
Last night...early this morning....I felt a bond towards this woman and her children. We've shared similar tears as we walked familiar paths while our hearts grieved the tragic end of our marriages in the confusion of watching someone we once loved fall victim to a mental illness and out of control behavior that we both are now picking up the pieces and using to help reach out to other in an attempt to let them know they are not alone. Needless to say, last night, I knew I was not alone.
I contacted the news agency that covered her story in hopes that they would forward my information on to her...forward to her my story...so that she could have the experience I did last night...early this morning...in knowing she was not alone either.
Who is to say what is next in this life ahead of me, every day is a new lesson to be learned and knowledge to be discovered - but it's nice to know, I am not alone.
Read her Victim Impact statement she wrote for Shawn Harris's sentencing here
See Crystal in an interview after the verdict - here
A small excerpt from the audio recording I made that led to my abuser being sentenced to 8 yrs in prison....Listen and lean what love IS NOT, and what ABUSE OF POWER AND CONTROL is...a marriage should never feel like being in prison and subjected to torture at the hands of the guard......
Statistics on spousal/marital/partner sexual assault: Visit Here for more details..
Excerpt from the Wife Rape Fact Sheet
- Ten to fourteen percent of ever-married women have experienced at least one forced sexual assault by a husband or ex-husband (Finkelhor & Yllo, 1985; Russell, 1990). Studies of battered women staying in shelters and women seeking relationship help show one-third to three-quarters of those asked reported sexual assaults by their husbands or intimate partners.
If you are a victim of sexual assault and need help contact the RAINN Hotline at