It’s not something we think about every day, but unwanted sexual contact (also called sexual abuse) by a spouse, which is often violent, is not a criminal offense in West Virginia.
Sexually abusive behavior involving non-spouses or strangers is definitely a crime.
While spousal sexual abuse is a crime in the great majority of states, our law allows a spouse to escape prosecution for that sexual crime.
Why should a marriage license give a spouse a free pass from prosecution for non-consensual sexual abuse? It’s wrong, but that’s our law.
Injuries to a spouse from sexual abuse hurt just as much as injuries to a stranger.
Sexual abuse is a crime of violence and power. It is caused by the decision to control someone in the most personal way. It is not caused by sexual desire.
Our 2024 legislature will have an opportunity to correct this on behalf of spouses, but only if they hear from us and appreciate that it is an important issue to correct.
More information about this is available at https://www.rdvic.org/sexual-violence.
How horrifying and shameful that this sexual crime will not be prosecuted in West Virginia if the victim just happens to be the abuser’s spouse.
Deb Miller, Reedsville