Sexual Assault in Intimate Controlling Relationships


by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Is it rape, is it an accommodation or is it lovemaking? It depends on how you define these terms, which may depend on who you ask. Take Megan and Jim, for example.* (Please note the same dynamics can exist in same sex couples, as well).

Jim comes home from a business trip proud as a new father immediately after delivery. And Megan is there to receive him in all his excitement. She is open to his needs, all while he engages in an endearing near four hours of “show and tell.”

To Rest or To Rape

The midnight hour approaches and they retreat into bed where Megan seeks to pass out and Jim wants to play. Megan’s fatigue is over the top as she, too, had a long week of her own, in addition to keeping up with the events of Jim’s travel. All she wants is sleep to restore balance from the weariness within.

Jim, on the other hand, remains charged with excitement from his journey. This energy is coupled with some pride that fuels his sense of entitlement, which works its way into the bedroom. He gestures for sex, in no uncertain terms, and she clearly lets him know of her excessive fatigue.

In a back and forth, Megan cries desperately begging to simply sleep without having sex. In a huff, Jim rolls over… but it is not over. Their problem encounter has only begun.

Megan pleads with Jim to rest…repeatedly again and again bargaining for sleep. And in a quiet moment—as she sinks into the depths of slumber—he becomes aroused and reaches over her—tossing her flat on her back, he lunges forth on top of her. Megan’s resistance falls on deaf ears, and away he goes as though he is the only one in the room having sex. Her presence is there to accommodate, from his point of view.

After Jim ejaculates, he acknowledges that he took care of himself without any regard for her or her wishes. They both fall asleep, and sure enough the next morning the consequences of the evening’s actions rear its ugly head. Megan is overcome with emotion and messages Jim via text.

Forced Sex Aftermath

She tells him that she feels horrible, dirty, used and violated after their encounter the evening before. Jim is outraged by such a message, as he is offended by her sharing these sentiments. He declares, you are saying I raped you and that I’m a rapist. His preoccupation over how she may use this information in light of his “professional image,” prevented him from hearing Megan’s immediate emotional distress. From here, their communications break down even further, and Jim wants her to know that he now is “the victim” of her assertion.

They spend months fighting over what actually took place. Jim calls it a “love-making” accommodation. For Megan, nothing could be farther from the truth. No one was making love. It was intercourse secured by relentless pressure and an unwillingness to take “no” for an answer. From Megan’s perspective, it was a surrender into a train coming with no breaks… much less sensitivity to her experience and their interaction.

Was this a rape? Was it a power and control play? If the interaction patterns in this vignette are familiar to you, take a hard and fast look at the dynamics of sexual abuse in controlling relationships.

For more information on sexual abuse in narcissistically abusive relationships visit  Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.

© Dr Jeanne King – Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

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