Intimate Partner Sexual Violence

A perpetrator can have any relationship to a victim, and that includes the role of an intimate partner. There are many different terms to refer to sexual assault committed by a person in a relationship with the victim, including: intimate partner sexual violence, domestic violence, intimate partner rape, marital rape, and spousal rape. No matter what term is used or how the relationship is defined, it is never okay to engage in sexual activity without someone’s consent.

How does sexual assault relate to domestic violence?
Sexual assault in a relationship rarely exists in a vacuum. It often occurs alongside other forms of abusive behavior. The majority of women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner had been sexually assaulted by that same partner1. To learn more about dating and domestic violence, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

Why should I reach out?
If you have experienced sexual assault by an intimate partner, it can be challenging to come forward for many reasons. You may be concerned for your safety or the safety of your children, still have strong feelings for your partner, or aren’t convinced that what’s happening to you is really sexual assault. It’s understandable to feel this way.

Ending an abusive relationship is not something that you have to do alone. Reaching out for help from friends, loved ones, local organizations or law enforcement can help you through this process.

Help is available
You can find support from a confidential, non-judgmental source.

  • To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233) any time, 24/7, or chat online.
  • Learn more about safety planning to brainstorm ideas for safety or escape.

1. Taylor, L., & Gaskin-Laniyan, N. (2007). Sexual Assault in Abusive Relationships. NIJ Journal, (256). Retrieved from http://nij.gov/journals/256/Pages/sexual-assault.aspx


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