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Domestic Violence

Identifying Abuse

09/30/2004

Question:

Is there such a thing? I came home the one day and then tried to leave to go somewhere, and my fiance kept blocking my way, grabbing me and holding real tight so I couldn`t get by him. Then he threw me on the bed and went on top of me so I couldn`t get up. He finally got off of me after a while, then I ran out the door and got in the car, but he held onto the door until I finally got to go forward and he finally let go. Of course, then he said he was sorry. Am I overreacting? Is this just the beginning? He said he was very stressed that day.

Answer:

You are describing a situation that was apparently very distressing to you, as it should be. I will refer to the research findings of several professionals who study why men rape—I am taking that perspective because of the way in which you described the events that evening. Your experience appeared sexual in nature and he seemingly used a significant degree of force/manipulation or implied threat.
I am going to describe aspects of intimate partner violence. (1) Battering Rape: here the victims are typically physically battered, but rape can also occur in relationships where there is little or no violence. (2) Force Only Rape: here the male partner uses force to coerce his partner into sex. Then there is what is called (3) Anger Rape: the rape is committed to express hostility toward women – to retaliate against them, to hurt them and to humiliate them. And finally, there is (4) Power Rape: here the male (in most cases) commits rape to assert dominance and control over a woman – remember, all rapes have an element of power and anger. Researchers have documented cases where a man grabs his partner from behind while she is cooking food on the grill, throws her to the ground, tears off her clothing and forces himself on her sexually.
It will be extremely important for you to communicate your displeasure and concern regarding his behavior directly to him. It will be important for him to hear that he made you feel scared and uncomfortable. Silence may send a message that is inconsistent with your true feelings and reaction to his behavior.

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Response by:

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University