Hello friends, I'm back again with another heavy topic, but I think it's one that isn't publicized as frequently as it should be: marital rape. Never heard of it? Well, let me give you a brief rundown because it's real and it needs to be discussed just as much as other kinds of rape.

At this point in the United States, at about 10-14% of married women have experienced marital rape, and about a third of women report having unwanted sex with someone they're married to or dating. This doesn't include the marital rape that happens outside of the U.S. on a global scale and, as you can probably guess, those numbers are far from better.

Morally, there is absolutely nothing that justifies rape either in a marriage or outside of it. Looking at our current laws, marital rape is considered a crime in all 50 states. This sounds pretty good, but if you look at some of the laws of individual states, there are at least 30 states in which husbands can get away with this if he didn't have to use force. These situations include mental or physical impairment, the wife being asleep, and coercion. Ladies, if your husband is trying to have sex with you and doesn't get your consent (or gets it reluctantly), you are experiencing rape and it's absolutely not okay.

If you don't think that the physical and mental consequences of marital rape aren't the same as for victims of rape outside of a marriage, you're just plain wrong. Some of these consequences include lacerations, soreness, vomiting, PTSD, anxiety, sleeping disorders, depression, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation. The consequences for the victim are the same regardless of whether the crime happens inside or outside the marriage. Consequences for the perpetrator should be too.

If you are in a situation where you have been raped, regardless of marriage playing a role, I want to first tell you that you are an amazing human being for having survived this and continuing to live your life. I want to follow that by saying, if you're in a situation where it's still happening, I plead with you that you leave this situation as soon as possible. There is no acceptable way to validate staying in a relationship where you are being abused. And that's what rape is, plain and simple.

If you're in this situation and don't know how to leave it, there are so many resources available to you (less than I would like, but they're still out there). I would start by looking at health care providers and local advocates if you can find them. You did nothing to deserve this, and marriage to a man does not make it okay for him to force sex on you. You know what you get to do with as you please? Things you own. A woman, in no sense, is the property of her spouse, and she should not be made to believe that. If you're in this situation, the best choice for your health is for you to leave as soon as you can and seek help. While issues of rape are hard enough to get publicized and taken seriously, it's time we start taking marital rape just as seriously both in our minds and in the legal system. To those of you who have experienced this, I support you, and you are not less because of this. Until you're able to stand up for yourself, I'll do my best to stand up for you.

**Disclaimer: I would like to note that marital rape is possible within any relationship. I've used the term husband and wife here because heterosexual relationships make up the vast majority. However, regardless of the sexuality of the partners in a relationship (married or otherwise), unwanted sex is rape and rape is a crime.