I was raped.

These are words I never imagined I would type. Even doing so now makes me feel uneasy. But the stigma around rape needs to be changed. I wasn’t out ‘looking for it,’ I wasn’t wearing a short skirt and crop top, I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t being a ‘tease,’ – which are often what people think of when someone says they were raped.

Did you know that most rapes are carried out by a perpetrator who knows their victim? This was certainly the case for me because my rapist, was my husband.

I didn’t even know you could be raped by your husband, and at the time I didn’t even realize what had happened. It wasn’t until I went through therapy after our divorce and I started to piece together my self esteem that I realized what he had done was wrong.

It wasn’t long after my son was born and he started pressuring me for sex. We had been having difficulties ever since I fell pregnant and he told me on a number of occasions that having sex would help our relationship. It was the furthest thing from my mind.

He had read online that it was safe to have sex six weeks after childbirth. At the six week mark his pressure to be intimate ramped right up. We even had a big argument in the middle of a shopping mall about it. For some reason he thought that as soon as the 6 weeks was up I should have been climbing all over him. How is that even possible when he had done nothing but repulse me for months?

That’s what happens when you treat someone so poorly.

Around the time when my son was eight weeks old, the pressure to have sex was immense. I started ignoring his requests rather than constantly saying no or coming up with an excuse. He would often grab me, hold me, kiss my lips and my neck despite me pulling away.

One night I couldn’t get away. I was exhausted from lack of sleep and constant arguing. He pushed me onto the bed and despite saying no, repeatedly he had his way with me. I was sick of arguing and sick of fighting so I just laid there.

Once he was done I got up, walked out of the room and sat in the shower. I let the steaming hot water pour all over my body for over an hour. I hoped it would burn the smell of him off me and cleanse me. I cried the whole time. What kind of marriage was I in?

Six weeks later I left him. I took my son and moved in with my parents. I never told them about this incident. The first time I spoke of it was in a therapy session and it hit me, as the words came out of my mouth I realized I had been raped. Raped by my husband.

Now, 3 years later I can say that I can forgive him. It took a long time to get here and a lot of self reflection. What he did was not my fault. He had no right to force me to have sex, even as his wife. He did something very, very wrong. He was a desperate man taking desperate actions.

Sex without consent is rape. Full stop. Even if you’re married. And no one deserves to be raped.

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