In the summer of 2017, Jenny Teeson made a terrifying discovery.
Tison, who began divorce proceedings from her husband of 12 years in Minnesota, was looking through files from her shared laptop when she discovered photos and videos of her husband raping her while she was unconscious. Tison’s husband was giving her a prescription for sleeping pills and then beat her up – And he didn’t know.
Suddenly things started to make sense. Tison said she remembers waking up at times in the morning feeling lethargic and disorganized, but doesn’t know why. She even went to the doctor to find out what was wrong.
“When I got these videos, I was in shock, but then it all clicked. Now I knew what was happening and why I felt so disoriented when I woke up.”
Teeson’s now ex-husband was initially charged with a felony—third degree criminal sexual conduct—but the charges were dropped the same day. because of legal loophole In Minnesota law at the time, it was not illegal to rape your disabled spouse if you were married or cohabiting at the time of the crime.
“If I hadn’t been his wife or lived with him when I was raped, the felony charges would have stopped, but since I was… the state didn’t make my rapes illegal. A rapist is not always a violent stranger. It can happen in your own bed,” Tison said.
Because of this loophole, Tison’s ex-husband was never prosecuted for felony charges, but he was charged with two misdemeanors—criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree, which was later dismissed, and house arrest. was interfered with in secrecy – for which he took a plea deal and served just 29 days in prison.
These legal loopholes surrounding marital rape are not uncommon. There are exceptions in many states when it comes to rape of a husband and wife. Although marital rape is technically illegal in the United States, the archaic laws of some states exclude situations where one spouse is unable to consent because they are incapacitated. Incredibly, even if their partner gave them the drug, it is not considered “coercive” and, therefore, not a criminal offense.
aquitas, a non-profit organization fighting for justice in cases of gender-based violence, Reported in 2019 That 20 U.S. jurisdictions “exempt spouses for offenses that criminalize sexual conduct based on the victim’s lack of ability to consent to that conduct.”
The legal system’s persistent denial of marital rape lies, in large part, in lieu of marriage laws of the century, where women were saw as the property of her husband and the dangerous notion that a pre-existing relationship implies irrevocable consent. While laws have changed over the past 50 years, marital rape is often overlooked. In fact, the legal definition of rape in the United States originally did not even include a spouse and was defined in the form of non-consensual sexual conduct with someone other compared to your spouse.
“Under no circumstances does not mean no. Marriage vows usually include promises to love each other and be there for each other in sickness and in health – they do not promise to provide for sex.” when a person says no,” wrote Dr. Jennifer Payne, Director of the Johns Hopkins Women’s Mood Disorders Center and member of Healthy Women Women’s Health Advisory Council, in an email exchange
The statistics on sexual violence are shocking. up 45% Rape victims are attacked by an intimate partner. Marital rape victims are also at risk because they may still be with their aggressor and may be repeatedly attacked – especially if the rapist knows they will not be prosecuted. Marital rape is also linked to domestic violence. Abusers often sexually assault their partner during physical assault, and may be victims Threat With more violence if they don’t go along with their abuser’s sexual demands.
After the felony charges were dropped, Tisson said she knew she had to do something to change the law. “It’s bigger than just my case,” recalled Tison thinking. “I needed to speak up for others, and I knew I was going to fight.” Tison began working with local legislators in Minnesota. In 2019, a long-pending change finally came when Governor Valzo signed on A bill to remove the legal loopholes of the state.
But changes to state laws have often met with resistance. Recent attempts to repeal marital rape exemptions in Ohio, Maryland and Michigan have failed. New Bills was done introduced this year. Bill pending in Maryland being vigorously completed Protest Republican lawmakers.
MacLaine Stanley, JD, ed.M., an attorney in Los Angeles who specializes in sexual assault, said marital rape is more widespread than many people think, but it isn’t spoken about as much about other crimes. Law enforcement and district attorneys have also not been very Responsible When it comes to investigation and prosecution of husband and wife rape. “District lawyers have wide discretion in what cases they prosecute. Bringing a stranger rape case to trial is already a difficult process – and with marital rape, it is even more difficult for a survivor to get justice. It is possible.”
In many states, even when marital rapists are convicted, they are still treated with respect. In California, there is no mandatory prison sentence for a convicted spouse rapist. Virginia Allows judges to set aside the prison sentence for a convicted marital rapist and replace it with counseling only. and in South CarolinaA spouse who rapes their partner is not held criminally liable unless the assault involved extreme violence, a weapon, or the threat of a weapon. If the victim does not report the assault within 30 days, and a convicted marital rapist cannot serve a prison sentence of no more than 10 years, the state also will not prosecute.
“This fight is not over,” Tison said. Although the law was changed in her state, she said she would continue to advocate for rape survivors and push for legislation in other states.
“It’s a human rights issue. No one is their spouse’s property. I’ll keep speaking up and fighting for change until these dangerous loopholes are over.”
rain (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) 800-656-HOPE56
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SECURE/TTY 800-787-3224
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
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