First off, I want to say I think I’m probably one of the biggest offenders when it comes to this. In this very blog, I think I’ve talked about my assault as a relationship problem in one way or another, (and I very well may again)…
Even in real time as it happened and the aftermath unfolded, I treated it like a relationship problem (with him)…
“Oh, I made you mad too, for a completely unrelated much much less serious things that falls within the confines of normal relationship ups and downs? Well, please, let’s address that first. Let me be super nice to you and give you all the benefits of all the doubts possible.
Let me handle this like I would any other fight – bringing up all the good stuff you do on either side of my grievance to keep things in the headspace of ‘I appreciate so much, but this really hurt me.’… Let me try like crazy to see your side and act like there’s blame to go around”…
(And on and on and on.)
Obviously, in any normal relationship spat, you of course would step up and take part of the blame for something – maybe before the other person even apologized. You, of course, would try to figure out where you were at fault and where you could be better. You would apologize. You would see the other person’s side…
But here’s the thing.
Half of female victims are raped by their intimate partner (according to this data from the CDC). (HALF)
In addition to that, statistically, people raped by their intimate partners have more issues (with work/school/their lives) than people raped by strangers (though that’s still obviously a completely horrific crime).
Half of the time this crime is committed against women, it’s by an intimate partner. So, it’s really important that we realize rape is a crime that can occur in a relationship. But it is not a random relationship problem that we treat as a normal squabble. It’s a crime that half of the time it’s committed happens to be committed in a relationship.
In its super most basic form, it’s like how a square is always a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square. Rape is aaaaalways a crime. Rape in a relationship is a crime. But rape doesn’t always come with the added layer of knowing the person or sandwiched between things that actually might be normal relationship squabbles.
And certainly, if it’s done by an intimate partner, that can bring some new issues that it might not with a stranger. And there can be some things about it that feel relationship-problem-adjacent, or like a weird funhouse-mirror version of something that kinda looks normal-ish (but isn’t).
But even taking that all into account, we can’t dismiss this as just a fight or misunderstanding between partners. We have to look at it as the crime for which it is.
And I’ll pick this up here tomorrow.