Although we have learned from the research that there are certain groups more at risk for rape and sexual assault, we also know that there are special populations who are also at risk, including spouses, lesbians, older women, women with disabilities, and prostitutes.

Marital Rape

As of 1993, marital rape is considered a crime in all 50 states, even though it may be treated differently in various states. For example, in some states, such as Arizona, Connecticut, and Idaho, there must be force or the threat of force in order for it to be considered marital rape (American Prosecutors Research Institute, 2003a). It has been estimated that 10% to 14% of all married women are raped by their husbands, although this number is much higher in battered women (Russell & Howell, 1983; Yllo & Finkelhor, 1985).

Overall, college-aged women are consistently more likely than college-aged men to view marital rape as a serious crime (Auster & Leone, 2001). Another study found that college students rated married women more responsible for rape when they were dressed seductively (Whatley, 2005). However, both men and women report that marital rape is less a violation of the victim’s rights and less psychologically damaging to the victims compared to other types of rape (Simonson & Subich, 1999).

Although their symptoms are similar to those who are victims of nonmarital rape, many of these women report feeling extremely betrayed and may lose the ability to trust others, especially men. In addition, there is often little social support for wives who are raped, and those who stay with their husbands often endure repeated attacks. Unfortunately, marital rape may be one of the least discussed types of rape.