Rape and the Continuum of Sexual Abuse in Intimate Relationships

James Ptacek

in Marital Rape

Published in print June 2016 | ISBN: 9780190238360
Published online June 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190615208 | DOI:

Series: Interpersonal Violence

Rape and the Continuum of Sexual Abuse in Intimate Relationships

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Drawing from a class-stratified sample of 60 US women who have been abused by intimate partners, this chapter examines rape and sexual abuse in the context of both class privilege and class disadvantage. Through intensive interviews, Ptacek found that most of the women (63%; n = 38) reported that their partners either threatened or used physical force to make them have sex, and fully 48% (n = 29) said that the term rape fit their experiences. The women identified a range of sexually abusive behaviors by their partners, including verbal degradation, delusional jealousy, infidelity, reproductive abuse, pornography, sexual abuse of their children, and rape. Ptacek analyzes the women’s experiences by challenging class myths and taking an intersectional approach that addresses the simultaneous operation of privilege and discrimination in people’s lives. Further, he argues that there is a continuum of sexual abuse, and rape is best understood within this context.

Keywords: United States; class-stratified sample; continuum of sexual abuse; intersectionality; misogyny; verbal degradation; delusional jealousy; reproductive coercion; social class; intimate partner violence

Chapter.  7680 words. 

Subjects: Social Justice and Human Rights

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