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Partner Assault Description
Partner assault involves sexual acts committed without a person's consent and/or against a person's will when the perpetrator is the individual’s current partner (married or not) or previous partner.

Research indicates that survivors of partner assault are more likely to be raped multiple times when compared to stranger and acquaintance rape survivors. As such, partner assault survivors are more likely to suffer severe and long lasting physical and psychological injuries.

In addition to the emotional consequences of other forms of sexual violence, partner assault involves a violation of intimate trust.


Writing Prompts
“I never thought to call it rape because he was my husband/boyfriend…”
“I didn’t feel like I was allowed to say ‘no’…”

Diane from Buffalo, New York | 25-April-07
I am 56 years old now & was raped when I was 19 years old by an ex-boyfriend.  I did not report it because I felt like an idiot.  He was being nice to me & asked for a ride home.  I thought I was being nice.  I was also 6 months pregnant & had not told anyone yet.  I did go to the home of a girlfriend and her mother helped me.  She also wanted me to call the police, but I wouldn't because of the pregnancy.  Even if I wasn't pregnant, I don't know if I would have reported it.  (?)  I still wonder after all these years if he's sorry.  I thought that when we were together before that time, he really cared about me.  I think about it a lot.  I've even tried to find out where he is (I think I know).

Anonymous from Minneapolis, Minnesota | 24-April-07
The beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I met the most amazing boy. I had just broken up with a long-term boyfriend; he was sweet and funny. However, due to circumstance, I didn't get the chance to date him until the very end of junior year. Once we did start dating, I was so happy because no one had ever treated me as kindly as he did.

A few months into the relationship was when I first knew something was wrong. He started being mean, he wouldn't let me hang out with my girl friends, and basically forbade me from speaking to my guy friends. I didn't want to break up with him for this, but these were my friends from elementary school. At the same time, I didn't know if anyone would love me if we broke up.

It kept getting worse. He had no respect for me, constantly made me cry, never let me be with my friends, but was able to do whatever he wanted, while I sat alone at home on Friday and Saturday nights. I lost my virginity to him a few months into our relationship. After about a year was when it started getting bad. Growing up in a small town, rape had one meaning: when a stranger forced a girl into having sex with him. Rape didn't happen between acquaintances, friends, significant others; if rape happened, it was usually the girl’s fault. Now, after a year of dating, when we had sex, it HURT. He'd be forceful and rough, and even when I cried and asked him to stop, he wouldn't. He would yell at me to shut up and let him finish, and afterwards, would leave me to myself to finish crying while he went and played video games. Time and again, I went through this. It was stuck in my head that this was normal. He would be so sweet during the day when we were around other people, but by ourselves, it was different. I didn't think I could leave; we had plans to get married, his whole family was so excited about it. I was so afraid he would hurt me if I tried to break up, and he made me feel like no one would ever love me. I wasn't pretty, I was too needy, I was too demanding, I didn't do enough for him. As much as I loved him, because I did, it was never good enough.

For another 3 or 4 months, sex was like this. Consensual at first, forceful at the end, with me feeling degraded and left alone to cry. I had no one to talk to, and no one noticed that I wanted to die. But because I was taught that rape was a stranger on a girl, I didn't do anything. One night, everything changed and I knew it was wrong. We were alone for the night, and started fooling around. I didn't want to have sex, but it started anyway. I changed my mind, and asked him to stop. He took my shoulders, slammed me down on the floor, and held me while I cried and screamed. The pain was horrible, and after he finished, left me to go watch TV. I couldn't stop crying; I didn't know what I had done to deserve this, I didn't know what I could do right anymore to make him stop doing this to me. I kept crying and screaming, and eventually he yelled at me to shut the f*** up, to go downstairs and go to bed. And I did, because I was too afraid to leave him to go home. Home was a half hour away, and it was so late at night, I didn't want to scare my parents. I broke up with him shortly after this. He tried so hard to get me back, but I have wonderful friends who held my hand while I tried to deal. I didn't realize that rape could happen between significant others until almost a year after I broke up with him; I'm still dealing with the aftermath. I have severe anger problems, I have trust issues, and still, sometimes I'm afraid to have sex with my boyfriend of almost two years. All the memories still haunt me, but talking about it and dealing with the memories head-on has helped. I don't know if mentally or emotionally I'll be okay; but I've made progress. Enough that I can make it through the day without thinking about it and without worrying that he'll find me.

Stacie from Upland, California | 29-January-07
I had an abusive boyfriend for about a year. Within that year I was brainwashed to believe that I was at fault and the cause of his violence. I believed him, I thought I was in love. The first time he touched me was when I tried to break up with him in August. I was driving and he grabbed my face and shook it while I started making a left turn. He screamed that he was not ready to break up with me.

He was a maniac. When I said I wasn't feeling like it, his response was, "You are my girl, and when I want it I should get it." I remember him ripping my clothes off, and I remember crying sometimes during but he wasn't ready to finish and would tell me to shut up. Getting in a physical fight meant going against a guy who could bench over 300 lbs. I have been slapped, punched, choked, and stomped on. Although fights didn't break out too frequently, the intensity would increase each time.

Once I was on the floor being stomped on when his friend walked in on us. If that friend didn't walk in on us, I am positive I would have been knocked out by the next hit. The worst part is when he would make me fall in love with him again. Make me believe it was my fault, that I deserved it, I had to make sure to never get abused again. I didn't tell anyone, I covered up, and made excuses for my injuries.

It was in May when I finally cut it off with him. I had supported him financially for a year, and he owed me a grand. That last night I finally turned to my family for strength and told them the truth about my boyfriend. Earlier that day I was just outside my house in his car telling him it was over. He took off speeding and would not let me get out of the car. We stopped at a stop sign and he almost hit a car, he made a right turn from a left turn lane, and he pulled me back into the car when I tried to run out. Once we stopped at his place he grabbed me and started to beat me. I headed towards the street where people could see us, and was able to get away when a car pulled to the side and started honking at us. I got away and called my mom. She picked me up a few blocks away.

Being a survivor has made me appreciate myself. I know I don't deserve that, and there are good men out there. I did not tell anyone at the time, I figured it was my problem, so I kept to myself. Dating and being in a relationship since has been strange at times. The idea of being attacked again has never left me.

Katy from Riverdale, MD | 21-May-04
Sometimes I don't know if my stories actually "count" as sexual assault, and I know that is a problem a lot of survivors have. Mostly because they involved two men who were my boyfriends, my lovers, my best friends, my hopes and my confidantes. They were the two longest term relationships I have ever had even now (though these experiences were years passed).

The first time I was assaulted I felt like the assault was difficult to name because it was not a completed penetration. I had been involved with the person, my on again off again best friend boyfriend for over two years. In that time some horrible patterns developed. He was an alcoholic with a lot of anger and family problems. He was a self-injurer and would burn himself with cigarettes and engage in other behavior that was scary and hurtful. On one occasion, he slapped me in the face at a party. Another time he called me a slut and a third time in private he pushed me out of bed onto a hardwood floor. The night when things got the worst, he was drinking and I was with him in his room. He called another girl he was dating and verbally berated her, then hung up and said "Look how much more important to me you are than her." It was sad and strange and I loved him and wanted things to be okay with us. We started making out as we did a lot and he locked the door. We were listening to music and making out and eventually a lot of my clothes were off. I started to rest and sort of fall asleep - we were in the dark. I remember kissing him more and then feeling him trying to put himself inside of me. "No," I said. "I don't want to have sex with you." (I was also a virgin at the time this happened - and I was 20 or 21.) I went and rested again, a little on edge. He tried again. "Stop it - I said no." Back to trying to end it and rest. At one point he poured beer on me. A third time, he tried to enter me. I sat up. "Look, I said no, and if you continue, I will consider this rape." Then he got angry. "Getting fucked is all you are gonna get from me anyway so you might as well take what you can get," he told me. I was in utter horror at what was going on, and my clothes at this point were also missing/hidden. I told him I was waiting for someone who was in love with me to have sex with and he said "Good luck." I got up, scrambled for my clothes and at 4 am ra! n out of his house, my clothes in disarray, back towards my own. I was greeted by my two shocked roommates, who I recounted what had happened to. One was his close friend, and to this day I think doubts what I told him.


Later on I met a boy that I was dating who I felt I could trust and fell completely in love. We were adventurous and carefree and shared a similiar interest in politics and punk and community. I told him all about my first experience with an assault and he was a great person to go to at the time.

A lot of strange things began happening later on. I had decided to have sex with him and had never had a sexual partner before. After him asking for weeks I finally asked and we had sex. I asked him to use a condom and he did at first then said "Well this won't work because you are a virgin." I was 21 at the time; he was slightly younger (maybe by a month) and had already had over 20 sexual partners. I was really scared and nervous and should have known to speak up but didn't. That began a year and a half of him not using condoms with me. I went on birth control.

He lived in a city two hours south of mine so I wasn't interacting with his friends a lot. I began to realize he had a lot of people that had problems with him, and I also started to hear stories of his past interactions with women he dated. A lot of it started to upset me, and I tried to talk to him about it and he would brush it off. I believed him when he said people were out to get him because I truly was in love. (I don't even know now how to tell what love is, I worry...because there is no way love should have turned into what it did for me.)

Eventually three women came forward in our community and accused him of sexual assault. There was a facilitated meeting where we all attempted to address it. Things grew to a very public fever pitch among our three cities. A lot of people got involved. It was incredibly painful. I was in fear all the time and basically tore these women accusing my partner apart. I was edgy, anxious and defensive.

He professed so much love for me and I felt like I could save him. He told me he never had a real girlfriend before me. I felt important and loved and I didn't understand why this was happening.

Some strange things started to occur. He would pout and throw sort of tantrums when I wouldn't do certain sexual acts, either because they were painful or because they were triggering for me. He guilted me about this. One night, I was assaulted by him. I cannot use the word rape because - I just can't. Some people say I should. I was having sex with him regularly in our relationship. However I am on pain medication for my back. I went to bed around 12 midnight. He stayed up to work and came to bed at 4 am. Because of my meds and being a heavy sleeper, I was out. I woke up and he was inside of me. I freaked out because I hadn't had the chance to say yes to it and I felt really scared and upset. I started screaming. He curled into a ball and cried and said "You were kissing me back!" I felt like it was my fault but I felt like there was no way anything I was doing was consent.

He was crying and I was so hurt and angry but I held him and comforted him. He worried that I would tell people about the experience, believe that he was a rapist and that I would spread what had happened. I didn't. I buried it deep inside. I felt like it was my fault. I felt like I must have indicated to him physically that I wanted to have sex. If I felt weird, I was sure it was my fault.

Later on, months down the road, I discovered he was cheating on me and putting me at risk for HIV and STDs as well because he wouldn't use condoms with me. I ended the relationship and revisited what had happened. At the time I told him I didn't consent and it wasn't okay. When we broke up, he said he thought I would now tell people what had happened to get back at him for cheating on me. I told him I couldn't say for sure what happened with him and the other women (although now I have zero doubts that he assaulted them, as one of them described the curling into a ball and crying without ever hearing it from me), but that I knew what happened between us and I knew it was wrong.

I still am haunted by this and because it was so public he was outcast from pretty much every place he went to. I hurt the other women so much, and wrote them a letter to apologize. I will carry this with me forever, but I try to use it as fuel to speak about violence, about consent and about assault - and try to make something positive out of the pain. I am interested in community response to sexual assault, and what to do when perpetrators are part of the small community. I feel so heartbroken and devastated when I think about all this, my own mistakes. I even feel fucked up for writing this. When I realized that I characterized it as assault, it took me a while to forgive myself because since I defended him so much when everyone tried to warn me of his behavior I thought maybe I just got what I deserved. I have a great deal of difficulty with intense intimacy now and with trusting men. I also carry a lot of remorse about my own mishandling of the situation, but I forgive myself and I am committed to building a world better equipped to address the complexities of this sort of trauma.

Shannon Smith from Pullman, WA | 05-November-02
I had been dating this guy Tyler for almost two years. In that time he was emotionally abusive as well as physically. We were both going to WSU. I was living 5 hours away from home. Tyler cut me off from all of my friends and chose my friends at school (which were his friends already). I couldn't take the abuse anymore and decided to get away. One day after that I decided to get my things out of his dorm room (we lived in the same dorm). That was when he raped me. We had been making out and he started to get pushy. I told him I didn't want to have sex but he didn't stop. I froze....and had no idea what to do. The whole time I kept shaking my head and saying no over and over again. When he finished he got down on the floor and told me how sorry he was. He tried to stop me from leaving but I took off. Completely numb as to what had just happened. I couldn't believe it. That week things started to really sink in. I had nobody to talk to. No friends to help me. Finally I told my brother and he talked to my mom. She tried to get me to go to the police and report it. I couldn't do that. I didn't want to ruin his life.I became really depressed. I saw Tyler all the time around the dorm and around campus. When I did make friends he would threaten them. He was always there tormenting me. I stopped going to classes. I couldn't be around people. I was always having panic attacks. Later I found out I had post traumatic stress disorder. I had started to debate on going to the authorities. I ran into him and told him I had been thinking about it. He then told me that he had thought about turning himself in. That he was so sorry he couldn't eat or sleep. I believed him and changed my mind. I couldn't take it anymore so one day I swallowed a bunch of pills. I realized then that I didn't really want to die and had my roommate call 911. That was when I told the police what happened to me. Unfortunately the case never went to court because there wasn't any physical evidence. I went to the school and they gave me the same answer. I did get to read the police reports and read his statement. It was all lies he told them I did a lap dance and was playing this trying to seduce him game.And he said that once I said no he stopped right away. I still see him around campus and everytime I do I feel so sick and wish I hadn't hesitated to turn him in. In my heart I know he will do it again. I just hope that if he does the girl will not believe his lies and will turn him in.

Anonymous from Queens, NY | 16-June-02
I accept some blame for mistakes I made in the story I have to share, yet I would call what happened to me rape, and more readily and without a doubt would other women whom I've spoken to about this. I'm going to be a senior in college come fall, and early in my junior year I started messing around with a guy who lives in my dorm at school. I was at a point where I didn't mind just hooking up without any plans of being exclusive. It wasn't meant to be serious, but I did make it clear to him that I did not want to have sex; we could do anything but that. I said this to him not because of any religious or moralistic views I have about sex, but because I knew from my one experience with a guy that I could not handle having regular sex without the security and respect implied in a promise of commitment- just the sort of commitment of "let's see where this goes." (My first had told me from the start that he wasn't looking for anything lasting, and I had gone for that, utterly innocent and naive and thinking I could handle my first sexual relationship with no strings attached.) When I first told my hook-up, "X," that I didn't plan to have sex with him, we were sitting side by side on his bed, and he turned his face and upper body away from me and said, "I see" in what seemed to be an annoyed tone. That should certainly have tipped me off that this guy wasn't trying to take me seriously, but he then turned to face me again with a placid smile on his face, and I let it go. I think my judgment was not at its best for two reasons: I was trying desperately to quell the loneliness that my first lover had left in me, and I felt- though I didn't admit it to myself then- that X was better than me. He was very good-looking, widely desired, had a player's charm, and I was very much into him. Yet, I had not been so lulled by his looks and charisma that I had not expressed my wishes to him, which were simply no sex and don't share details with your guy friends.

The next time we were alone together, he started fingering me, and I started protesting, but he kept telling me not to worry (I had just reiterated the warning about not talking trash about me), and I let him keep going. Soon that led to him putting his penis in me. He started moving back and forth on top of me, and I told him we needed to stop. And HE needed to stop, I certainly couldn't make him- he's 6'8" and built. He wasn't heeding me for a while, but then he stopped moving and said, "Okay, if you really want me to stop, I'll stop." I thought for a moment, got clear-headed, and said, "Okay, stop." He said, "Just kidding," and kept going. He laughed when he said it, and I felt that he wasn't trying to hurt me, he was just being selfish and really, really didn't want to stop. I became naively generous and thought, Why not let him have this pleasure... I'm not a virgin anyway, I did this so many times with my ex, and it's feeling pretty good now anyway. So I became muted after he said "Just kidding" and all that went through my head, and he pulled out of me when he was ready.

He asked me if I was mad at him afterwards, and I was still pretending that the situation hadn't gotten out of my hands, so I said no. I felt very unsettled that night and the next day, though, because not only had we had sex, but it had happened so soon. I really started to panic and get angry when I saw him and he was pretty cold to me, as if nothing had happened between us. I had told him that I could not fuck and then be treated like an acquaintance. He'd said that he understood that, but here he was doing that to me. Then the other thing I had feared started happening- his friends were giving me these knowing smiles and whispering about me. I said hi to his roommates the day after it happened, and they said hi back, each with a smirk on his face, and laughed as I passed by them. One of his roommates pointed me out to two of their friends; he said, "That's her." The looks I was getting reminded me of the looks I had been getting from street harassers since age ten. Those men on street corners and in passing cars who used to leer at me and call things out to me when I was a shy growing girl turned me into a feminist. They used to get under my skin so much, they infuriated me, the fact that they thought it was their privilege to hassle me every time I stepped out of my home, the gall they had. And now I was getting the same from men at an Ivy League institution, and I could hardly believe it. They were treating me like a "slut," and they didn't know the story or me. They didn't know I hadn't wanted to have sex with him so soon; that's what they were chastising me for in their way. They didn't know I expected him to want to be with me after the sex, to call me, to take me out and want to spend time with me. They figured that I had low standards, that I was happy to put out quickly and expected nothing in return. X said as much himself when I told him I was upset that I was a "cheap girl" now. He didn't contradict me, he just said, "Well, I'm a cheap guy." He was pretending that guys and girls can do the same things, and there's no difference in how they're perceived when the word gets out. But it's still seen as wrong for girls to move fast and laudable for guys to move fast. For girls, it's something at the very least worthy of comment and that his friends felt entitled to let me know they were aware had occurred. The words "slut" and "ho" have a branding force, and they're words harnessed only on women. When I let X know that I thought his friends were giving me looks, he treated me like a paranoid flake, of course told them, and they got even worse about it. Meanwhile X barely acknowledged me in public. He would say hi and perhaps make conversation, but sitting with me was apparently out of the question. That never changed, although we kept sleeping together...

Yes, the relationship continued because my thinking, which wasn't logical, it stemmed from an emotional/psychological need that I had, was that he could not do that with me and walk on like nothing had happened between us. I had put my reputation and my ability to live with myself on the line, and he could not make the sex- the rape- so meaningless. All I wanted was not to be treated like little more than a stranger in public. I would see him hugging other girls, while sometimes I just got ignored. I kept nagging him with all of my complaints against him, trying to make him understand me and what I wanted from him, but he was always able to appease me somehow. It's because I just wanted him to see me and treat me as his friend. I didn't want to feel so cheated. We ended up with a flimsy friendship after all, and he has apologized to me for everything except a "rape" (if he means it, I don't know), but now we've stopped talking to each other, and he wouldn't say that he was "seeing me," even though he says that about some girls that he wasn't sleeping with throughout the year; I was the only one in that category, I'm almost positive.

I'm not proud of the relationship I had with him. The sex was fun, but the situation was extremely draining and upsetting to me early on, it was disrespectful to me, and it was something I continued because I had it in my head that I had to engender feelings in him towards me that he wasn't showing. My memory is funny; it takes some effort for me to recall the lousy way he generally treated me, but I latch onto the two times he stroked my arm after sex and the one time he kissed my forehead... stuff like that. I actually told him I cared about him on a few occasions. He would tell me I shouldn't or not respond. And so, to summarize, I gave myself continually to a man who didn't take me too seriously and became a "cheap girl" in the eyes of many dumbasses who didn't know that I had said, "Stop," and he'd replied, "Just kidding," and then, after the fact, had gone on to make me regret not having started to yell. He raped me and then I got labeled as a slut, and he ceased to see me as girlfriend material and even told me once (he must have been in a fatherly mood) that I should wait for sex with a guy until we're both at that point, not to rush it. I said something in protest to that, but I didn't assert the word rape. I should have... because apparently he'd forgotten. Hopefully, I've grown up with this experience. I hope he has too.

Anonymous from Muncie, IN | 30-April-02
I remember being at my boyfriend's house, and we would always go out behind his house to talk. They had a fence where they kept old trucks and vans. Well, there was one van that we always went to cause there was a mattress in the back. I loved those times when we went back there to talk, because I always felt as though he respected me.

This time it was different. I was 15 at the time, and new to the dating thing. I thought that my boyfriend loved me, so I usually tried to do what I could to please him. But this day was different. We did what most boyfriends and girlfriends do, cuddle, kiss, things like that. Things that make you feel important. Then he began to get rough with me. I thought he was only playing so I started laughing. But that was the only time I laughed.

He then began ripping my clothes off me, and I begging him to just leave me alone. But he would not stop, no matter how hard I pleaded with him. He just didn't care how I felt. All he wanted was his own pleasure. He then unzipped his pants, and forced me to perform oral sex on him. It disgusted me so much I almost threw up. Then he raped me. It was the most horrific feeling that I had ever felt. I knew that if I told anyone, then he would deny and no one would believe me.

I have now come to realize that it wasn't my fault. I have told one of my closest friends, and she has helped me deal with this experience. I am now beginning to see that I am someone that shouldn't be treated that way, and that I deserve to be loved, and feel loved. I deserve to be happy.

Anonymous from New Paltz, NY | 22-April-02
Okay here's my story:

Just when I thought I was done with the names, the games, the mental abuse, the fights, the control, using sex as a weapon, the bloody noses, the police and the court dates, I find myself in a dangerousily similar situation.

It's been three years since I left an abusive relationship which took me over a year to end. Here I am again fighting the same battle. I find myself justifying the personal violations, guy number two is not as bad as guy number 1. The truth is it is all bad. The cylce continues, Father to lover, lover to lover.

They appear handsome and kind to all those around. The kind of guy any girl would love to bring home to meet the family, a true charmer but behind closed doors the nightmare continues. They have a constant need for control, what you wear, the way you wear your hair, who you talk to, where you work, what you buy, who you are.

The take you away from family and friends, they take you away from who you are, losing your identity makes you feel as if you need them and that's just what they want. You self esteem drops lower and lower. As the pain grows you feel helpless, alone, as if there is no way out. There is a way out and that is to break the cycle. I suggest if you have survived one not to look for another, take time for you, learn to heal the wounds, learn to love yourself.

The cycle for me all began with my father. My father walked out on my family when I as nine years old, without him I have always looked for a male figure to love and protect me. I have found myself looking in the wrong places and with the wrong people trying to find that missing peice. The truth is no man will heal my wounds, only I can heal the wounds left by my father. What has happened in our past affects who we are today, this is why it is so very important to adress these issues before carring then on with you throughout your life, they will only bring on more.

Hillary Browne from Kingston, TX | 01-March-02
i'm 22 now and remember going to his house seven--almost eight years ago-- like it was yesterday. i was going to break up with him. i figured out that boys shouldn't beat their girls, no matter how many drugs they feed them. he wanted me to watch a video of his band playing. awful punk music. i still hate it. i told him i wouldn't be coming over anymore. and then he used his fists to try and make me stay. he hit my head and my back and shoulders and my head and my head and my head until there wasn't anything, and i fell asleep. when i woke up i was under his kitchen table with my wrists pinned above my head-- i remember his forearms on mine in some desperate struggle of strength and balance. when i woke up he was already inside me, already raping me, and i didn't even have the chance to say no. i kicked his mother's cabinets and all the dishes-- dinner dishes, salad dishes, cups, saucers, soup bowls-- fell around my head and legs and all over his back. cracking, smashing, into pieces. it's seven--almost eight-- years later and I'm still waking up, putting the pieces of myself back together.