Is Cheating a Form of Rape?

is cheating rape

If sex by deception is considered rape in some circles, is cheating rape?

***

Dear Chump Lady,

So I know on here, that you always talk about the cheaters risking the chumps health with exposure to STDs and such, but I wonder why people don’t talk about the rape aspect?

Yale Law and Policy has an article (and more are gaining traction with this idea) that getting someone to have sex with you by fraud or deception, is indeed rape.

Rape doesn’t always have to be violent like we see on TV and in movies.

Rape can be at the hand of a spouse or significant other, that doesn’t give you all the information you need to make an informed decision to have sex with them or not, and in my opinion, that is what cheaters do.

To me, my husband not telling me he was cheating on me while still having sex with me, was rape.

I FELT raped.

I felt instantly violated! Maybe it was made worse that he had had sex with me just a few hours before I discovered his infidelity on his phone? Maybe it was when I went back through time trying to figure out the timeline, that I realized he’d been cheating on me when he took me out of town for a Mother’s Day get away? And he also had raped me by deception that weekend, then coming back and telling the Other Woman that “I’d had a good weekend”? (Why she was asking that and he was telling her my business I will never understand).

Don’t get me wrong, STDs are something that need to be tested for and risk our health, but I feel the emotional pain for me was far more magnified when I realized I’d been raped and taken advantage of, deceived into sex that if I had known all the facts (as in he was cheating) I certainly would have given him a profound NO THANKS!

So I was wondering how you and the folks of Chump Nation felt about this, as I am sure most of us were raped while being cheated on, unbeknownst to us.

Sincerely,

Chumped in KC

***

Dear Chumped in KC,

Interesting question and in all the years of doing this blog, it’s never come up before. I went down a little rabbit hole with the article you sent, “Solving the Riddle of Rape-by-Deception” by Luis E. Chiesa.

When people lie to obtain money, we call it theft. When they lie to enter private property, we call it trespass. When they lie to obtain sex . . . we have no idea what to call it. Some call it lawful seduction. Others call it criminal rape. An Israeli court recently aligned itself with the latter camp when it convicted an Arab man of rape-by-deception for falsely claiming that he was a Jewish bachelor in order to have sex with a Jewish woman. So too did a Scottish court when it convicted a transgendered man of “sexual intimacy by fraud” for failing to reveal his gender history to his girlfriend. In contrast, a grand jury in New Jersey sided with those who call lying to obtain sex an act of lawful seduction when it refused to indict a man for sexual assault for having sex with his fiancée after lying about his nationality, profession, and marital status. In response, New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton sought to amend the state’s rape laws to include a crime of sex obtained by fraud or deception. Assemblyman Singleton challenged those who opposed the bill to ask themselves: should the law “afford less legal protection to a person’s body than it does to that person’s property?” After all, he asked, “if it is a crime to deceive individuals out of their property, how can it be lawful to deceive them out of their bodies?” 

But is the deception criminal?

The author of the article goes on to argue that rape by deception isn’t much of a riddle, as the other factors — coercion and the harm — are criminal, so we don’t need to get into the sex by deception part so much.

Without intending to exhaustively cover all of the cases in which it is sensible to punish sex obtained by misrepresentations, I argue that obvious candidates for criminalization are cases that feature deception that is also coercive, deception that amounts to a breach of trust by a person in a position of authority, and deception that causes significant harm in addition to the infringement of the victim’s autonomy. The suggested approach would only selectively criminalize sex obtained by deception. Contrary to what Rubenfeld suggests, such selective criminalization is not in tension with the kind of sexual autonomy that modern rape statutes seek to protect. As a result, the so-called riddle of rape-by-deception turns out not to be much of a riddle at all.

Yeah, it’s interesting to me that “stealthing” (removing a condom during sex) is considered rape under British law, but concealing an entire double life is just an exuberant act of defiance if you ask Esther Perel.

How much harm is enough harm?

I don’t think the world wants to bring back stoning adulterers or scarlet letters. But I would like to see a public conversation where cheating on someone is at least acknowledged as traumatic and harmful. That there are actual perpetrators and victims.

Is cheating rape, however? Even the Esther Perels of the world have a hard time skipping around the consent issue. Well, it’s not nice to cheat on someone. Mistakes were made. But then there must be an immediate pivot back to the cheater, their issues, their (equivalent or greater!) pain, and the chump’s inability to forgive.

We never acknowledge the abusive power dynamic of infidelity. It’s cast as a relationship problem. A chump failing to enchant problem.

Part of the problem, in the U.S. at least, in broadening rape and sexual abuse laws, is that consent isn’t legally defined. From the Consent Awareness Network:

Legislating the definition for consent in the penal code of every jurisdiction will make a world of difference! But no jurisdiction… absolutely none…. provides an actual definition for the noun “consent” in its penal law. 

In fact, many states embed blame-the-victim concepts into their penal laws, including that the “words and actions” of the victim determine whether consent took place or not.  This ignorant, archaic concept ignores that when someone uses malicious influence to secure your agreement or compliance, you are not consenting no matter what you say or do; and no matter how emphatically you say or do it!

And that’s the crux of it, right? You do not consent to be cheated on — and all the harm that entails. The health risks, diverted monies, the humiliation of finding yourself used. Not just for sex, but as a spousal appliance, babysitter, and ATM.

I looked further into the case that prompted the New Jersey assemblyman to try and change the state law. Romance scam victim, Mischele Lewis — whose story could be lifted out of Chump Nation — was an actual Dateline episode. After learning that her fiancé was a con-artist, she went on a sting operation to bust him. She succeeded and the asshole went to jail.

But Lewis wanted more than fraud charges

But Lewis doesn’t think that’s enough. She wanted him prosecuted for a sex crime, based on the controversial legal theory that his scam amounted to sexual assault. That approach didn’t hold up in court, so she’s taken her quest to the state capital, where she’s teamed up with a local lawmaker to try to make New Jersey one of the few places to make it illegal to dupe someone into having sex.

“I want to give society more of a chance to feel safe from predators like him,” Lewis said.

Why isn’t the sex by deception considered a violation on par with lying about what he wanted loan for and defrauding her of money? If Bernie Madoff had fucked his victims AND stolen their pension funds, would the sex just be recreational? I need stronger legal minds to explain this to me.

‘I wanted justice.’

More of the Lewis story, via NBC.

Lewis, a 35-year-old mother of two from Florence, New Jersey, said she met Jordan, 49, in 2013, via an online dating service as her marriage was falling apart. He said his name was Liam Allen, an Englishman who’d immigrated to the U.S. as a child and worked in secret operations for the British Ministry of Defense. She believed him, and when he told her she needed security clearance to talk to him more, she wired a purported middleman cash in order to show her trustworthiness. Soon, he proposed. She accepted. In early 2014 she found out she was pregnant. And that’s when he seemed to withdraw from her, Lewis said.

One day, he left his wallet out, and Lewis briefly went through it. She found an identification card with his real name. She searched it online, and learned of his past misdeeds: prison time for bigamy and fraud, a conviction for child molestation, a trail of deceived ex-wives and fiancees, his deportation back to New Jersey. One of his British victims had written a book about him, and counted 13 children by six different women. With the author’s help, Lewis pieced together the truth. She got an abortion. Then she began to plot a way to stop him. “I wanted justice,” Lewis told NBC News on Friday. “For me and the other victims.”

She began gathering potential evidence: bank statements, emails, text messages, photos. She talked to other victims. And she secretly recorded conversations in which Jordan acknowledged some of his lies. In March 2014, she told her story to police. A few weeks later, Jordan was arrested. He was charged with theft by deception, impersonating a law enforcement officer and sex assault. But a grand jury declined to indict him on the last charge, significantly reducing the potential prison time. In November, Jordan accepted a plea agreement that called for him to serve three years. “That’s not long enough for what he put me and others through,” Lewis said.

Hey, Mischele, at least he got jail time. That’s more justice than we’ll ever see.

So, CN, what do you think? Is cheating a form of rape?

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MichelleShocked
MichelleShocked
15 days ago

I guess call it what you want, but cheating is definitely abuse and a FW that is cheating and continues to have sex with a Chump is sexually abusing them. All of us had to get tested for STDs after DDay. If someone is having sex with others and exposing you without your knowledge or consent… it’s at the very least sexual abuse. Just like using your money to pay for hookers and schmoopies is financial abuse. And gaslighting and lying is emotional abuse.

For the record, within weeks before DDay, asshat dickhead FW woke me from a dead sleep and forced himself on me. I didn’t know anything about his cheating but something felt really bad about it. He also usually withheld sex from me. And I FELT RAPED. The next morning I asked him what happened. I told him that it felt like he was raping me. ** crickets **

That was part of the puzzle that led me to figure out he was cheating.

So yeah… cheating is abusive as shit in every way

2xchump
2xchump
14 days ago

When my XHCheater was cheating he changed his body hair, cologne, clothes, weight, hours outside the home, mood, rages, how he treated me and touched me etc..so I was actually having sex with a stranger. That is sex by deception.

Mehitable
Mehitable
15 days ago

I think what he did is, to me, the base line of what rape is about – exerting power over another person. Controlling them, perhaps trying to destroy them mentally and physically. There is no love in any kind of rape, it’s the ultimate abuse of sex as power.

OHFFS
OHFFS
15 days ago

I’m so sorry he did that to you. ☹

Mehitable
Mehitable
15 days ago

I think it’s clear you were literally raped, Michelle. When someone physically forces themselves on you, that’s what it is. I’m so sorry you went through this and I wish it were possible to prosecute this man.

FYI_
FYI_
15 days ago

God, how awful. I’m sorry this happened to you.

Anna
Anna
15 days ago

Any person who unlawfully and intentionally commits an act of sexual penetration with another person without the latter’s consent, is guilty of the offence of rape.
Consent must be informed consent and involves a voluntary or uncoerced agreement.
Had I not been lied to, made out to be paranoid and crazy because my gut told me the POS cheater was f#$king me around, I would definitely not have had sex with that disgusting MF.

As soon as I discovered the truth from the POS cheater’s own mouth in a recorded telephonic conversation with his brother, he was dead to me. DISGUSTING PIG!!!

YES having sex with your wife/ husband whilst leading a double life is RAPE.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
15 days ago

I would say it is sexual abuse at a minimum, which is still some form of criminality. I guess at the same time, our prisons would be packed if this becomes a crime. The other issue is it would probably require a lot of evidence to get a conviction, and the courts would look at this as a no-fault type of decision to spare the children from having to lose a parent to prison time based of their wandering member.

I do remember the trauma it induces; I can remember the anxiety attack and the notion I was so dirty I couldn’t get clean.

Almost Out
Almost Out
6 days ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

Yes, that’s it exactly. Feeling so dirty I can’t get clean. Tell me that goes away eventually.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
6 days ago
Reply to  Almost Out

Yes it does, it may take some time.

Mehitable
Mehitable
15 days ago
Reply to  Josh McDowell

“I do remember the trauma it induces; I can remember the anxiety attack and the notion I was so dirty I couldn’t get clean.” THIS absolutely. You’re really having sex with a stranger as you don’t know what your partner/spouse is doing, has done or with who. They’re a stranger, perhaps more in some ways than some guy in an alley.

Elizabeth Lee
Elizabeth Lee
15 days ago

Yeah, I think it’s a sex crime. In fact, this post crystallized for me the total ick I felt about the time my ex initiated sex and then told me the next day he was moving out of the house. He had it all planned. The sex was one last romp before he moved out. It was sex by fraud. It was rape.

FYI_
FYI_
15 days ago

Okay, so here is my question. Chiesa claims to be in favor of selectively calling it rape, i.e., only under certain conditions, which he names as …

  • deception that is also coercive,
  • deception that amounts to a breach of trust by a person in a position of authority,
  • and deception that causes significant harm in addition to the infringement of the victim’s autonomy.

What other scenario is there? This pretty much covers all the bases!! — including cheating on your spouse.

It is absolutely a consent issue — for women AND FOR MEN who are cheated on.

The Divine Miss Chump
The Divine Miss Chump
15 days ago

This is a tough one. When one consents to sex, but the consent is given under false pretences, does it then become a matter of theft by deception? When a decision is made in a vacuum of untruths, our agency is stolen, and a valid argument could be made that it invalidates consent as well.

I suspect there are many chumps, myself included, who often felt like the act of lovemaking with their former partner was more akin to rape than shared intimacy. Especially during those days before you knew about the cheating, and your gut was crying out that something was wrong but you didn’t know what.

When my ex started burying his head in a pillow so as not to look at me, stopped kissing, and found positions where the only body parts that came in contact were the genitals, I felt raped every time

Conchobara
Conchobara
14 days ago

This is why I think the ‘informed’ part of informed consent is the critical piece. Did I agree to s*x even when I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to deal with his silent treatment or anger? Yes. But I sure as hell would not have given in under those circumstances if I was aware of his cheating.

If I’d known the truth, if I’d known about the cheating and the string of women he was paying to be with him, I would never have touched him again and I certainly would not have permitted any kind of intimacy. But I wasn’t informed that he had changed the ground rules of our relationship/marriage.

OHFFS
OHFFS
15 days ago

That’s awful. Mine would not look at me either.

Conchobara
Conchobara
14 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

He stopped looking me in the eyes and I didn’t know why.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
15 days ago

I experienced marital rape often throughout my marriage, both due to my ex occasionally forcing himself on me (once when I was actively breastfeeding my baby!) and due to the fact that I didn’t feel safe saying “no” to him. I never felt like I could say no because I learned the hard way that his behavior towards me would worsen for days and days afterwards if I did. So it was just easier to give in, regardless of my growing aversion to the man and to having sex with him, in particular. If there existed a legal definition of consent, most of the time my experiences would probably technically meet the definition..because I technically agreed/gave in. But do I feel as if I actually consented or as if I actually had the freedom to choose one way or another? NO. So….rape. Therapy has been most helpful.

Rape definitely worsened during the 3 years of my ex’s double life. His hostility towards me was especially palpable while he lovingly adored and cared for the OW. So sex was awful for me in those years. I FELT RAPED. His mind on the OW during sex with me? I could somehow tell it was so, even if I didn’t know his underling at work was an OW at that time. In general it was just that much clearer to me how he was just using my body and my excellent appliance skills while not being caring or emotionally present towards me.

So I don’t have legal insight to offer, but rather the experience of 2.5 decades with someone I eventually realized was a predator. The last 3 years when his affair was going on leads me to believe that yes, cheating is a form of rape.

What is RAPE about? Domination, coercion, power, lies, using another’s body in the most selfish way possible.

What is CHEATING about? “Domination, coercion, power, lies, using another’s body in the most selfish way possible.”

Nut Cluster Free Zone
Nut Cluster Free Zone
14 days ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

Forcing himself on you whilst nursing your baby ?! 🤮🤮🤮

OHFFS
OHFFS
15 days ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

😱 Raping you while you were nursing? That is a new low, even for a FW. I am so very sorry.
He deserves to die, and as painfully as possible.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
14 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Thanks, OHFFS. Yeah, it was pretty low. And then in a couples’ counseling session 3 years or so later, the counselor focused on how “stuck” I was because I had brought it up in counseling years later. I’ve had to recover from that counseling, too!

OHFFS
OHFFS
14 days ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

That makes me so angry. That therapist was emotionally abusing and manipulating you. 😡

dodgingDARVO
dodgingDARVO
15 days ago

We had a two week unit on sexual assault during Criminal Law, and it was one of the most infuriating topics I’ve studied during law school.

The reason this argument has not been addressed before is that in Britain and other common law countries (including the U.S.), rape has historically been conceived of as a crime committed by a man against the man who has property rights over the woman (i.e. a victim’s husband or father). “Consent” was about the men attached to the allegations — did a father consent to his daughter being wed? It was not considered legally possible for a man to rape his wife until the 1990s in many parts of the United States. Many countries that inherited the common law still have not adequately challenged the violent patriarchal roots of our legal codes.

I think that there would be logistical and evidentiary challenges to implementing laws criminalizing rape by deception in the context of cheating. Courts are already handling intense case loads. I would worry about criminal statutes only being enforced against disadvantaged populations, and rich people avoiding prosecution. Even if this was only a civil cause of action, I would be worried about how a law like this could be turned against women or chumps; cheaters with guilty mindsets are more likely to be gathering exculpatory evidence and building a case compared to unwitting chumps just going about their day-to-day lives trusting their partners.

Courts need to conceptualize cheating as a form of abuse / intimate partner violence (IPV) and structure divorce settlements accordingly. Too many judges smugly or cynically dismiss cheating as childish drama, disregarding the trauma it causes to chumps and any children in the family. Judges need to treat cheating as an indication of a serious character flaw that brings into question the character and integrity of the cheater in all aspects of the divorce (e.g. judges should be more suspicious about the honesty of a cheater’s financial disclosures).

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
15 days ago
Reply to  dodgingDARVO

IPV – never heard that term before, but it’s a perfect descriptor!

Bluewren
Bluewren
14 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Yes… not your broken heart, not your traumatised state of being, not your battered body from all the adrenalin and cortisol you’ve had coursing through you for months.
Not your shaking hands, and certainly not your inability to separate lies from truth- because it was probably mostly if not all lies.
Oh well, back to the property pool affidavit….

dodgingDARVO
dodgingDARVO
15 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Your great advice on surviving and recovering from abuse is one of the reasons I’ve followed your blog for years despite not being chumped myself (as far as I’m aware, anyway). Many of your posts have helped me as a survivor of domestic violence.

Courts don’t understand trauma responses or traumatized people. Chumps are often confused and foggy because of trauma, and don’t communicate as clearly and effectively as their cheating FW. Judges evaluating witness credibility can mischaracterize chumps as deceptive or unreliable when in actuality, chumps are still reconfiguring their sense of reality after being lied to and defrauded for years. Cheaters have a strategic advantage in that they have understood the context all along: not their chump’s friend or life partner, but their adversary.

I wish judges had mandatory training on these topics (trauma, abuse, sexual violence). Many states only have minimum introductory training and continuing legal education requirements for judges. It’s one of my long term goals to create educational resources that improve access to justice for abuse survivors.

Laws can change for the better — feminist activism and movements for racial minorities’ civil rights have demonstrated that — but positive change isn’t a guarantee. I think we’re in the middle of a legal and cultural backlash to the gains made by the #MeToo movement. People don’t want to think of their loved ones as capable of abuse, and victims who are still trapped want to resist thinking of themselves as victims. I’m encouraged by the fact that cultural attitudes about consent have shifted to the point where rape-by-deception and conceptualizing infidelity as abuse are even being considered plausible legal frameworks.

2xchump
2xchump
14 days ago
Reply to  dodgingDARVO

Chumps are warm blooded creatures who cry, take blame, love with their whole being, connect, bond, give until there is nothing left. Cheaters are cold blooded reptiles who plan out how to victimize and slither into their underground caves to escape. They have to deceive, coerce, stay covert and have months if not decades of practice. Put a warm blooded creature next to a cold blooded calculator right next to each other in the court room, in front of a frazzled overworked judge. Who plays the game and stays cool and calm?.Who wins and goes back underground? On the other hand who goes into therapy for 10 years and still takes the blame?

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
15 days ago

I wouldn’t call it rape. I can’t. To me, rape is rather well defined, similar to how sexual harassment and sexual assault are not the same thing. That doesn’t make cheating “okay.” It just means it’s not rape. Rape is not the only evil thing in existence – and something doesn’t have to be rape to be taken seriously. I was exploited and molested as a child – not raped, as far as I can remember – and I still bear scars from the trauma.

I do consider it to be a form of sexual misconduct, and certainly a form of abuse. Especially considering the humiliation the FWs and APs often pile on the chumps. I would also call it physical abuse or neglect, given the STDs and other health risks, psychological abuse, given the betrayal and gaslighting, as well some general type of deceptive abuse.

I think part of the issue is that our culture doesn’t want to acknowledge that less obvious abuse is wrong. Something HAS to be rape or it isn’t that bad – you’re overreacting! But that’s not true at all. All types of abuse can be immensely violating.

I don’t know. I don’t want to come off as flippant or dismissive. I just think it’s a different abuse. I hope my point is coming across!

marissachump
marissachump
14 days ago

I hear you and your excellent points but I wonder about the implications of this take. As someone who has faced a whole range of different forms of rape myself throughout my life, be it physically forced, coerced, threatened, as well as by deception, the impact of really narrowing the definition of rape is that in real time, materially, victims inevitably resort to believing their rape doesn’t “count.” Thoughts running through my head at various times include “could I have fought harder?” “I still talked to him afterwards so was it my fault?” “It was only _x_ kind of penetration so it can’t possibly count.” Etc. forever. And many kinds of limitations of the definition are used by courts of law, police officers, and the victims’ support networks to minimize and victim blame. I would advocate personally for an inclusive definition as I feel that best supports victims/survivors.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
14 days ago
Reply to  marissachump

I understand this as well, and I’m not advocating for that either. There is no perfect victimhood where it’s all textbook. My abuse certainly wasn’t, and I’m not a perfect “ideal” victim either who did all the right “victim-y” things. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t fight back, or you were in contact with the rapist afterwards, or even kept going back to them. I’m not here to victim blame.

My point is, more, that we don’t and shouldn’t need to consider it rape to consider a form of abuse as a violation. I prefer using rape to refer to forced or coerced sexual involvement, or sexual involvement with someone who cannot understandably consent to that particular contact. That DOESN’T mean I don’t view cheating as a severe and traumatizing violation of security. I do, because it is. But so are many other things that aren’t rape.

As HoaC pointed out below – this could easily be reversed on the chump. How many of us hid things from our FW to cope with abuse, or snooped, or any number of things of that nature? We know how abusers love to use the legal system as another tool of abuse.

I don’t view it as rape not because those who experience it aren’t victims, but merely because I think it’s a useful term for what we use it to describe now. An identifier for a specific cruelty. It doesn’t exclude the existence of other cruelties.

marissachump
marissachump
14 days ago

” It doesn’t matter if you didn’t fight back, or you were in contact with the rapist afterwards, or even kept going back to them. I’m not here to victim blame.” Oh I’m so sorry; I didn’t list those things intending to imply you are victim blaming! You said nothing of the sort1 The things I listed were purely some of the victim blaming kinds of thoughts I have experienced at various times. I do think you make excellent points. But I wonder if instead of a blanket no it is not rape or yes it is always rape, if maybe it were on a case by case basis?

What I mean is maybe not deception generally. But specific kinds. I again pulling from my experiences. There was a moment I told cheater I would not sleep with them unless it was over with the affair partner. Cheater lied to me in that instance in order to sleep with me right then and there. Once the truth came out, I started getting severe PTSD flashbacks. Another one of my experiences is that cheater used the tacit threat of further cheating, which cheater knew is a threat to my life as I’m immunocompromised so the risks to my safety are huge, in order to coerce me into sex with them that I did not want. I slept with them every day out of sheer fear of the threat to my health, safety, and possibly my life if I did not comply. I believe those examples are ones that illustrate cheating as rape, especially the first one of direct unambiguous deception in order to obtain sex under false pretenses at the moment. Whereas more non-specific deceptions might not have as direct of a connection to rape.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
14 days ago
Reply to  marissachump

Ah, I get you! I’m so terribly sorry you had to experience all that. You’re right, that does make the connections clearer – especially when dealing with threats against your physical wellbeing. That’s awful.

I still think it would be very difficult to navigate and prove in court, in the legal sense, although I’m amazed at how many of us dealt with the whole “risking health” issue. I thought ex/FW was just especially stupid, having unprotected sex with both me and ex/OW, knowing ex/OW was having sex with strangers in bars (according to him) and that I’m a sickly mess. He even freaked out when I started getting STD tests because he was “worried about ruining my life” but… where was that worry BEFORE he cheated on me with no protection? And to come here and learn that they all do that, yours even using it as a THREAT. The good news is, supposedly, if they knowingly risk STD spreading, they can be charged with it. I’ve heard of it before, and one of the comments mentioned it. It isn’t exactly the same thing, but it is out there.

(And, of course, protection isn’t always perfect, but it does keep a lot of it at bay. Wrap it up, kiddos!)

Then again, that wouldn’t even be a concern if they weren’t actively betraying us.

Thank you for hearing me out, by the way. I try my best to make sure not to invalidate others’ feelings and experiences. I hope you’re doing okay.

OHFFS
OHFFS
14 days ago
Reply to  marissachump

Yes, the deception has to involve something that a reasonable person could forsee would be likely to affect your decision to consent to sex. It’s not just a deception about anything. For example, if FW told you he didn’t bring home groceries as he was asked to because he forgot, when it was really because he was out for a beer instead, that probably wouldn’t affect whether or not you would consent.

Bluewren
Bluewren
14 days ago

Great points- I agree with what you’ve said.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
15 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I suppose that’s sort of it. I hate using that argument, as I’ve seen misogynists use it rather often, but I guess it comes down to not wanting words to be… misused? There are many ways to violate consent – from misuse of someone else’s’ funds, to hostage situations in wars, to revenge pornography, to breaking and entering. These are all violating, in many different ways. But they’re all different things, too. I hope that’s an understandable position to hold.

GoodWitch
GoodWitch
14 days ago

I largely agree with you and think that the impetus to use the word “rape” has quite a lot to do with the secondary insult of having your experience largely dismissed by most of society, including the legal system. I’ve used the term “emotional rape” before, and I arrived at that choice quite carefully, because I didn’t want to minimize the experiences of others nor, like Tracy says, dilute the meaning of the word. However, the trauma and sense of violation was so intense that I didn’t know what other words could accurately convey what had happened to me. I say “was” but, while less acute than in the first 8 months, it is still definitely ongoing for me. “Intimate partner violence” is undoubtedly applicable for cheating. The sense of betrayal and powerlessness is amplified by the reaction of the Justice system, certainly in my state at least. In my case, I have admissible evidence that my husband was doing things that were illegal and, yet, the courts don’t seem to care. This really seems a lot like laws for me but not for thee… and, in fact, rewards abuse. I had to laugh at Tracy’s “I need stronger legal minds to explain this to me.” because I’ve thought this verbatim in the past.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
14 days ago
Reply to  GoodWitch

I understand what you mean, it’s so hard to put into words how awful the experience is in a way that others won’t dismiss. I’m so sorry about your husband – I hope he is soon your ex, and you are somewhere safe. Tuesday will come soon!

I suppose, for me, much of my frustration doesn’t come from the legal side – I wasn’t married to ex/FW, so I didn’t have to deal with divorce, although I did live with him – so much as the general media sentiment that no, cheating and affairs are no big deal! I don’t think most of the general population is okay with it, but at the same time, it’s downplayed, and I find it romanticized in media with unnerving frequency.

But I know for many chumps on here, the legal side IS important and IS a big deal, and I don’t quite know where to start with that discussion. Cheating is abuse! But what legal recourse could there be? What complicates it even more for me is how I’m not fond of our legal system in the first place. But there has to be solutions to the problems chumps face legally, too.

GoodWitch
GoodWitch
14 days ago

Thank you. I am safe at the moment. And, yes, I hope he will soon be my ex also. I agree about the downplaying – even the term “cheating” is kind of trite… people “cheat” on exams and taxes and carpool lanes on the freeway. A cheated on spouse/partner frequently loses decades of their life, memories, and opportunities to deception – that’s a lot different magnitude of fake co-pilot than the kind a person might use for the HOV lane.

I do think we need new language. In some cases, this kind of intimate partner abuse does definitely overlap with rape. I can also certainly see how the word rape is applicable in cheating scenarios – hence why I used the term “emotional rape” before, but I think it would be most useful to have some semantic distinction. That said, I thank Tracy for tackling this subject and think discussions like these are so necessary and useful. We are very behind on the much needed progress in terms of how infidelity and consent are viewed and the kind of protections that should really be in place for people.

SecondSelf
SecondSelf
15 days ago

A quick google on this topic finds that it you can be charged with reckless endangerment if you have sex with someone without disclosing that you have an STD. CDC has some interesting articles on this, with a focus on HIV but acknowledging that the legal framework applies more broadly. Many of the FWs had to deal with could be charged, sounds like. I wish I had thought of this angle when I was going through divorce. This should be a thing that divorce attorneys go after, when it applies.

Nut Cluster Free Zone
Nut Cluster Free Zone
14 days ago
Reply to  SecondSelf

Google Philippe Padieu. Dated women concurrently and knowingly infected them with AIDS. They joined forces to convict him.

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
15 days ago
Reply to  SecondSelf

I think this is a plausible strategy. If reckless endangerment was assumed in cases of infidelity, it could result in greater penalties. But would it have to go through a criminal trial rather than a family law/divorce settlement? The depositions would be interesting. “I swear we used a condom while you were home with the kids”.

narcmagnet
narcmagnet
15 days ago

Yes! For years now, I’ve argued that sex without VALID consent is rape. In my state, that’s third degree rape. Problem is, as of yet, no one has successfully been prosecuted for third degree rape as a result of cheating/adultery.

I have read where defendants/FW’s were successfully prosecuted and sued $$$ for sexual battery for giving their chumps STD’s. We also have laws on our books for intentional exposure to the AIDS virus, if the defendant knew or should have known that he/she was infected and failed to warn the victim. So what about the other STD’s?! Do they not count?

But back to valid consent… when a defendant is boykinized (a legal soliloquy of sorts) after a guilty plea is entered, the judge must ask a long list of questions to ensure the plea (consent to taking a guilty plea) is “voluntary, knowing and intelligent.” How can consent be voluntary, knowing and intelligent when vital information is hidden from the one “consenting.”?!

These FW’s actively, premeditatedly and intentionally deceive their chumps when they conceal other sex partners. As a defense attorney, if I or the ADA concealed information that we know would drastically alter a defendant’s decision to plea, that is malicious and criminal. It would also negate the plea.

The problem with prosecuting cheaters for rape/sexual battery has always come down to proving lack of consent. Anyone who has been a chump knows that gut punch of finding out that they’ve been duped into having intimate relations with someone, when given all the relevant information, the chump would never have let the lying pig even touch her/him.

Spoonriver
Spoonriver
15 days ago

He said he had no intention of being faithful when he married me. This was the explanation for why he couldn’t tell me how many. Married 35 years. It is sexual abuse at the very least. It feels like rape. He took everything by deceit. Time, money, safety, my past, my future. I have rebuilt but I live in the present and my future as much as I can. I’m happy now.But his continued existence on earth without consequences troubles me.

ChumpOnIt
ChumpOnIt
15 days ago

Yes, it is rape. Complete misrepresentation of oneself in order to obtain sex equals no consent in my book. Even when you know, you are mentally and emotionally upside down about intimacy even when you think you can reconcile. He told me that because I had sex with him after I knew what he did that in some places it was considered legal forgiveness. It was an absolute disgusting thing to say to me. I realized at that point that he had no regard for me as a human being, let alone his wife. Even the reconciliation was used as coercion. I’m forever traumatized by his actions.

OHFFS
OHFFS
15 days ago

No question in my mind that it’s rape by deception. I think the PTSD I experienced was partly from that trauma, not just from the shock of the betrayal and realizing I had suffered emotional abuse the whole time. The abuse was mostly the covert, passive-aggressive type, but it became blatant and included verbal abuse while the affair was on, then got still worse after Dday. The ramped up cruelty got so extreme that it would practically take my breath away. It was a struggle to accept that anybody could be that heartless and sadistic, let alone my husband. Yet this scumbag had the gall to ask, in a forlorn voice; “Why can’t I be your husband?” Yeah, the same guy who ran after me as I tried to escape his cruelty, him making fun of his suicidal wife’s mental health struggles and hurling insults about it (“Crazy ass!” “Nutjob!”) couldn’t understand why I didn’t want him as a husband anymore. This incident happened right after I had unsuccessfully attempted to hang myself. He had an evil smile on his face the whole time he was chasing me.🤮
My adult daughter came to my rescue and literally had to threaten to hit him with a piece of a two by four to get him to leave me be. Yet this fucking guy thought I would still want him as a husband.
Btw, I have never told anyone that story before, not even here. As a result of incidents like that, my daughter doesn’t care of he lives or dies and won’t give him the time of day.

After Dday I also found out some disturbing things about him that he’d been lying about from the day I met him. They were things I would never would have accepted and I would never have even dated him if I had been aware of them. He knew that. That’s why he hid them. I had told him of the things I would not accept in a partner before we even got serious, and he had hypocritically agreed they were unacceptable and had sworn these were not issues with him. So I spent more than 30 years being raped by deception, not just during the affair itself. It was rape right from the start. Finding that out was even harder to recover from than the cheating, actually. I am recovered enough that it no longer makes me wish I was dead every single waking moment (as I did for over a year after I found out) but I’ll never really be whole again after that. For all that, I do think he deserves to do prison time.

I don’t believe the justice system will ever punish cheaters for rape by deception, because cheating is so commonplace that it would clog the courts with a backlog of cases. That would make it impossible to bring criminals to trial within the time limits the law provides. Most jurisdictions guarantee that trial must proceed within a certain time period, and if it does not, the charges are dropped. I’m sorry, chumps. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Last edited 15 days ago by OHFFS
OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
14 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

How awful, OHFFS! I’m so sorry you went through that. I hope you keep making forward progress in your recovery.

OHFFS
OHFFS
14 days ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

I am making so much progress! It’s amazing how quickly I started to improve after dumping the FW. I thought it would take years, but I was almost back to my pre-Dday self within eight months, and from then on I started to get better than I was pre-Dday, since I was miserable with FW even before I found out. I do have some lingering effects, but nothing I can’t handle. I’ll never be the person I was before, but that’s okay. I accept and like this version of myself.

Thank you for your kindness. ❤ I hope you are doing okay yourself and getting closer to meh.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
14 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Good to hear OHFFS! I agree, it’s a lot easier to heal when we don’t have to see and live with our abuser day in/day out. Thanks for your sweet words! I am finding myself again, discovering my preferences and strength. It’s almost Tuesday!

Mehitable
Mehitable
15 days ago

I can’t call it rape as rape is legally defined generally as a violent act where a person’s body is seized and sexually abused against their will. Even though I understand for many it must feel like rape afterwards when you know. To me it would seem to be more like fraud and misrepresentation, which can be devastating to people. I frequently think of Bernie Madoff when I think of adulterous situations, not because he was one (that I know of) but because of the whole aspect of fraud and deceit. I also like to emphasize the Theft of Time under false pretenses. I would like to see this encapsulated in law in some way, I’d at least like to see it acknowledged IN DIVORCE as I firmly believe all states should be “at fault” states for adultery and that spouses that commit adultery and abandon their families should get NOTHING from the marriage other than what they brought in and NO CUSTODY RIGHTS AT ALL. The emotional, financial and often, physical, devastation of adultery, a word I prefer to use rather than cheating which I think minimizes these actions, as well as the bad effect on children, needs to be recognized once again in marital/familiy law and teeth put back in. As for rape, while I do understand the feeling, I don’t know how one would codify it much less prove it. Perhaps calling this situation sexual fraud – obtaining sex under false pretenses. Certainly passing along a venereal disease (I prefer that to the STI euphemisms) could have a criminal aspect and perhaps it should. For some it might be a death sentence. Under the banner of sexual liberation we have been ignoring all the negative side effects for decades and….here we are. We need to become practical again and deal with consequences.

Divorce Minister
Divorce Minister
14 days ago

If “stealthing” is illegal, I find it hard to justify cheating as legal as it, too, involves deception. I doubt many of us would have consented to sleep with our Cheaters knowing what strange they were also sleeping with.

For years, I have called adultery, soul rape, as I believe that captures the spiritual realities of such relationships. Is it actual, physical rape? I don’t know. It certainly is sexual and involves non-consent. Like others here, I probably lean towards sexual assault language.

Anna
Anna
14 days ago

Hi DM. I agree with everything you have written, save for it being sexual assault. Where there has been sexual penetration with deception, it cannot merely be sexual assault, it is rape.

OHFFS
OHFFS
14 days ago
Reply to  Anna

Not to split hairs, but rape is a form of sexual assault.

marissachump
marissachump
14 days ago

It is absolutely rape by deception. I say this as a survivor of repeat childhood rapes. What my cheater ex did to me felt very much the same. And the same PTSD hit me as before. That said, I would not recommend taking this to a court of law as they hardly ever even prosecute super clear cut rape cases.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
14 days ago

Interesting topics and philosophical territory we find ourselves in here this fine, FW-Free Monday!

Exhausted physically and emotionally from work…so time for me to verbally vomit a little bit. Forgive me if I get circuitous below.

Joining the Chump Nation has helped me put words to feelings that I had for the last 15 or so months(and probably well before that wherein feelings coalesce into logos.) The main one is that infidelity is abuse, and by extension any victim of infidelity is a victim of abuse. In that very Humbert Humbert sort of way-one weight is lifted in time to be replaced by a greater weight in that respect.

Speaking to my own subjective experience on this and contemplating what I read here frequently-when the initial shock wore off after D-Day, I recognized the tell-tale signs of a trauma response(dissociation, numbness, severe mood swings, etc). I am no stranger to being traumatized-though famliarity most assuredly breeds contempt in that domain.

When I was finally able to generate an “I” statement, I could only come up with two: “I am Broken” and “I am violated.” Not “my trust is violated”(certainly that was also true)-that totality of ME had been desecrated. My love entailed the loss of an ego boundary and absolute defenselessness when it was mishandled to that degree.

We do discuss the components of sexual abuse when we discuss being chumped, and there is a substantial amount of crossover. What it is to have it withheld(mine was getting that need met elsewhere so there was nothing left for me apparently but to clean up after her and make sure she was fed, to say nothing of the mind games and outright verbal/psychological abuse), be put at risk for god knows what those “exuberant acts of defiance” things do to replace common sense in the form of STIs and lack of protection, and having to come to terms with how a very sacred(to me at least) act between us was being freely distributed elsewhere because I didn’t hang up a picture when she wanted me to apparently.

That being said, having spent a substantial amount of my career healing individuals that have endured a very forcible, very coercive, and very violent sexual assault in many cases, I feel very, very iffy classifying what I personally experienced in that regard as rape.

I freely acknowledge that components of being chumped share those characteristics and that my very soul was damaged in totality-sex was used to do me harm either through negligence, manipulation, or malice aforethought-though not nearly to the degree of the people that I help for a living. I was traumatized-that being said there are very brave people here that have been through far worse and I do not wish to take anything away from them by saying the same of my experience(horrific as it has been on many levels.)

The consensus I am seeing emerging from responses here is that we probably need whole new legal nomenclature to govern that aspect of sexual abuse. It is my hope that discussion about legalizing consent even conceptually can evolve(and frankly that the individuals that have a vested interest in that particular status quo be displaced, but I have already gone on long enough here today) and just like accepting that infidelity is abuse that we can one day come to larger consensus on that part as well.

In closing, I remain very happy to have been directed to this place and very proud of the bravery of the people that have come forward today on this Monday. To think…Tuesday is( and could be) tomorrow…

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Thanks for putting that into words. I also can’t really wrap my head around legally defining consent in a legislatable way. But I think certain definitions of coercive control could, in effect, at least criminalize or create civil punishments of the abusive, coercive, controlling, financially depriving, self-esteem-crushing (verbal attacks on appearance/sexuality are on the list), fear-inducing and socially isolating behaviors by which abusers typically rob others of consent.

Though women are statistically more likely to be victims of all forms of intimate abuse, I’m getting the sense that she-cheaters tend to be more common than women who engage in directly violent means of abusing partners which means that, in all likelihood, she-FWs are probably engaging in many forms of abuse that could fall under the banner of coercive control. In other words, male chumps could theoretically also get a degree of protection from civil and criminal statutes against coercive control.

Under the lens of coercive control, it can potentially be assumed that anything and everything an abuser extracted from the victim– whether it was sex or financial advantage or simply remaining in the relationship despite gross lack of reciprocity (including total withdrawal of sex by the guilty party)– was gotten through coercion and was therefore a violation.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
14 days ago

Oh I 100% agree about having legal definitions of consent-and I shudder to think about how it would be define institutionally(ie, extant largely exploitive “traditional” marriages) versus more contemporary bleeding edge conceptualization of same. In other words, “is remaining in the marriage/relationship constitute consent even if leaving it simply is not (safely) feasible”?

And of course we chumps already turned over control of this issue to our respective fuckwits, who already have a casual stance about concepts like “safety”, “morality”, “the truth”, etc.

At least in America I think we’d also need a revamped notion of the family courts system for that kind of thing-it’s messed up enough as-is, but again, rant for another time.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

I mentioned in another post that I think victims of dv (or, for that matter, coercive control) should be able to one-sidedly dissolve all their marital obligations by getting a simple form stamped in the same court where they proved the offense but yet leave the guilty party still legally obligated to pay settlement, punitive damages (some states penalize cheating in the settlement process), compensation for dissipated assets, child support, etc.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago

One can dream. But already two US states have passed civil laws making it easier for victims of coercive control to get orders of protection and take full custody of children so we may be inching towards acknowledging the seriousness of emotional abuse and freeing victims.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
14 days ago

I am with it on both of your posts!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
14 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

I really like what you’ve said here, but I do hope Tuesday does come for you soon, too. It IS a lovely FW-free Monday, though!

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
14 days ago

This isn’t a subject I’m neutral on — I have very definite opinions on the matter. My first husband cheated incessantly — I learned after I divorced him that he was never actually faithful. He had cheated on me all along, with multiple sex partners while assuring me that we were exclusive. In fact, when he and I started dating, he was cheating on someone else. I inadvertently won the “PickMe Polka.” “What a prize,” she says, voice dripping in sarcasm. During the course of our two year courtship and three year “mirage,” he gave me multiple sexually transmitted disease/infections, whatever. I was on Flagyl for chlamydia multiple times a year, and even though we were married, I alone bore the expense for the frequent GYN visits and the expensive antibiotics with its many fun side effects. Given that the incubation period for chlamydia is 2-6 weeks, I can probably assume that the periods I went without symptoms I wasn’t really completely cured; I was just incubating a reinfection. Greg’s (we’ll call him that because that was his name) cheating gave me multiple STDs, STIs and probably is what destroyed my fertility.  

Had I known that Greg wasn’t being, as proclaimed, faithful, I would not have consented to unprotected sex. That is probably one of the reasons he kept it secret. He “didn’t like how rubbers feel.” Even though we were married and (I presumed) monogamous, even though I had sex willingly and enthusiastically, he robbed me of the chance to fully consent to what I was getting into. Or was getting into me. And if we define “rape” as sexual acts without proper consent, it was indeed rape.  

Dictionary.com defines rape as: a noun meaning unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the person subjected to such penetration.: See also sexual assault. Sexual assault is defined as: nonconsensual touching of one person for the sexual gratification of another, including rape, fondling, molestation, or other unwanted contact with the genitals, anus, buttocks, groin, or breasts of either party: The victim was intoxicated and incapable of giving consent, so any sex act will be treated as sexual assault.

If we’re saying that someone was unable to give consent because they were intoxicated, how are we able to say that someone is ABLE to give consent with the true nature of the act was concealed from her. She was deceived as to the dangers of intercourse with this person; deliberately deceived.  

I was left with infertility, cervical cancer probably due to HPV (second husband) and a huge pile of medical bills starting in my 20s. And I got these issues within the “sanctity of marriage.”  I had sex with my husband. Obtaining “consent” without fully disclosing your sexual history, *especially* in marriage, where the partner would logically be able to presume you were exclusive is inflicting a whole layer of risk that the partner is not consenting to. Let’s call it what it is. It’s rape.
  

Bluewren
Bluewren
14 days ago

It’s definitely abuse – it can be rape in some cases but to me, it’s more about deception, theft and abuse .
Much more needs to be made of it by law makers and judiciary when faced with this behaviour in their courtroom or in mediation or in the therapist’s office.
Instead of trying to find excuses for the behaviour, it needs to be called out for what it is.
We make choices every day how we will behave towards others.
Cheating is a conscious choice – a conscious and deliberate choice to harm.
And a large percentage of that harm is permanent.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago

From my time working in advocacy for domestic violence survivors I began to recognize that domestic violence is, in essence, protracted rape even if violent, forcible rape never occurs. The abuser doesn’t even really need to force sex if they create the coercive conditions whereby the victim faces dire consequences for refusing.
Since I never encountered a survivor who wasn’t also cheated on in some way, I also started wondering if DV is, in a nutshell, really a case of enforced one-sided monogamy on top of being protracted rape. But something else I learned working in DV is that “protracted rape” is effectively unlegislatable. An abuser can beat the hell out of a victim for refusing sex but if the actual sex takes place hours or days later and didn’t involve immediate false imprisonment, direct protest from the victim or any attempt to escape in the moment, no legal authority will prosecute this as rape even if, in the spirit of the law, it is because the victim knows that, if they protest again, they will risk further violence or threats or simply the unbearable continuation of a stressful “tension building stage” of abuse. It’s even hard to prove that violence following a refusal to have sex is “attempted rape” because many batterers are clever enough to theme their violent reactions to rejection on something else, like accusing the victim of cheating or being a bitch or whatever. Besides, unlike stranger rape, domestic abusers know they can “collect” on the coerced compliance later. On top of this muddling factor, many chronically battered women have described how, in order to avoid the significant risk of internal damage (like uterine collapse) from having sex while unaroused, they train their bodies to “get into it.” But to me, that’s still essentially rape even if, again, those circumstances make it impossible to prosecute the act as rape. Survivors may be able to prosecute for assault, for any instances of terrorist threat or false imprisonment but unless sex was directly coerced or exits blocked, etc., the letter of the law won’t cover it.
I’d have to read more but I think Chiesa has a point that rape-by-deception might not be directly legislatable either. I’m no legal authority but from working in advocacy, I learned to read how laws are written in order to detect gaps in the language that create the possibility of legal blameshifting. Frankly I think every member of the voting public should learn to read legislation in this way because, to quote GK Chesterton, “If you let loose a law, it will do as a dog does. It will obey its own nature, not yours. Such sense as you have put into the law (or the dog) will be fulfilled. But you will not be able to fulfill a fragment of anything you have forgotten to put into it.”
Personally I can see where something like rape-by-deception could be very slipslidey and potentially misused to reverse charges and legally harass victims in the case, say, the victim was not 1000% honest towards the perpetrator prior to some sexual event. You can go online and see all the complaints that the INSELish or fundy manospheres make about women who “pretend to be more innocent/pure than they are” by lying about their “body counts” or past abortions or even fibbing about age, weight, shoe size, whatever. Where does one draw the line at what is considered an egregious lie? Can some people claim that a noncriminal fib violated their religious convictions that women should be purer than men? I think it could fulfill a blameshifting dream scenario among the what-abouting manosphere to be able to charge women with rape based on something like this. Considering how viciously women are judged for various arbitrary, noncriminal things, I can imagine that white lies in dating are very common.

I would also be concerned how rape-by-deception opens up the possibility for side pieces to go after even more family assets and ravage even more of kids’ college funds by suing cheaters on the back of filing criminal charges. The side piece could theoretically claim rape-by-deception if the cheater, say, lied about having sex with the spouse and claimed an intention to divorce but didn’t– which would probably apply to most cheaters in history.

But Chiesa does offer another, less direct route to prosecute by referencing “coercion” which harks to the growing movement to criminalize coercive control. It might seem a bit like busting Al Capone for tax fraud to chumps who legitimately felt “raped” by deception but it’s not nothing and, furthermore, it can stick in a legal sense. From what I’ve seen and heard, most cheaters are guaranteed to engage in degrees of coercive control against primary partners in order to facilitate cheating and I imagine the same is true of anyone who lies in a genuinely egregious way in order to secure sex from other people. Given time, eventually all chronically deceptive individuals are going to expose their aggressive and coercive underbellies. Plus I wonder if focusing on coercive control could also negate claims of witting affair partners (short of criminally violent acts, criminal threats, etc.) who may have been, after all, acting as proxy abusers/coercive controllers to primary partners.

Like CL argues, we really don’t want to go back to the days of stoning cheaters and scarlet letters so there’s really no way to directly criminalize cheating. For one, a short review of history would caution that enforcement would inevitably become skewed. For instance, I was just reading the history of sexist application of adultery laws under Franco’s dictatorship that was finally overturned in 1979, four years after Franco’s death. Though women couldn’t divorce in Franco’s Spain or even leave violent or abusive husbands without losing custody of children, women could be imprisoned for adultery even if their husbands abandoned them for years and the woman eventually moved on and formed another relationship (which they would have to to survive due to laws limiting women from employment, owning property or accessing bank accounts) or even “entered a house for more than two hours” with any man who was not her husband. Adultery was finally decriminalized for both genders (it had never really been criminalized for men) following mass protests of women who wore “I am also an adulterer” t-shirts in response to two women being threatened with prison and loss of custody after forming new relationships years after their husbands cheated and left for other relationships (one husband left after coming out as gay).

Considering how Spanish women had suffered for ages due to one-sided traditional cultural acceptance of men having mistresses and blowing family assets to support second or more families, imagine the heinous clusterfuck of injustice it took for women to be seen “embracing” adultery. But only if someone (like Perel, for instance) decontextualized this history does it look anything but understandably reactionary, which is that, as long as men could not be divested of the weapon of cheating and women had limited means to survive without a male partner, women would claim the same freedom in theory.

unicornomore
unicornomore
12 days ago

Thank you for this history lesson…I didnt know about women in Spain…that is shocking to me

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
14 days ago

I love everything you’ve written here. The short little history lesson was fantastic! Trying any abuser is immensely difficult, even if the abuser is super obvious to everyone. It can be really frustrating, although I suppose it’s that way for a reason. All the more reason to have better support structures for the victims.

You’re really onto something, I think – there is an extremely slippery slope here. Someone not wanting to talk about past traumas at a certain point in their relationship could be seen as doing the same – and that’s not right. This could get very, very messy, very quickly.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago

I think there’s a point where, if a law requires a list of stipulations and exemptions as long as a Tolstoy novel, it’s basically unlegislatable if just because most lawmakers and voters are never going to read the whole thing or more words = more grounds for those who oppose the principle to dicker and bog down the passage forever. So the likelihood is that any such slipslidey law will first be passed with overly broad language (sometimes deliberately crafted by those who oppose the principle as a trap to enable perpetrators to abuse of the law just like what happened with “dual arrest” laws in dv). Then the clusterfuck is left to the system of precedents to fill in the gaps which could take generations and depends largely on political climate.

So, yeah, a big dangerous mess can ensue in which the innocent suffer.

Coercive control legislation also arguably has some gaps to be filled in order to prevent its weaponization by perpetrators but I suspect– in my nonexpert humble opinion– the gaps probably wouldn’t be as difficult to fill. It’s why I think chumps should get involved on the ground floor of crafting this kind of legislation in order to prevent, say, the misuse of charges of surveilling/spying on partners. For instance, a chump who’s also a victim of coercive control might spy on a partner’s phone for very understandable reasons such as seeing if family assets are being embezzled or if they’re being exposed to STDs. Coercive control legislation might place some legal limitations on chumps’ impulses to surveil their cheating, abusive partners but there are already common sense reasons to avoid overdoing the marriage police bit and getting out before that becomes necessary. Plus coercive control legislation could make it much easier for chumps to escape, avoid punitive custody threats, character assassination/smear campaigns and retaliatory financial abuse. In fact, if chumps could more often seek actual justice against FWs and have these situations publicly defined as abuse in a way that would sway bystanders a bit more and lead to greater social support, I think it would emerge that many chumps– rather than mea-culpa-ing over voluntarily smoking hopium– would more quickly realize they were suffering from old-fashioned captor bonding and were, in fact, hostages for the most part. Because societal recognition of victim status impacts social support which is one of the greatest deciding factors in how well people heal from traumatic experience, I think it would speed healing.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
14 days ago

I think you’re right – the legal acknowledgement of cheating as abuse could shift the general perception of it. And that would be a wonderful thing! But it’s certainly a delicate balance.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago

The delicacy of raising awareness, condemning perps and increasing social support for victims probably relates to how culturally common the crime is. It’s one thing to get the public to condemn offenses that they think only extreme weirdos or people in faraway lands commit. It’s another thing to raise awareness and legislate against crimes their brothers, bosses and close college pals commit.

Overmim
Overmim
14 days ago

I’m all for stoning the cheating adulterers and having them wear a Scarlet letter before the stoning takes place!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago
Reply to  Overmim

Would that include battered women who– though they may not ever have cheated on a relationship in normal circumstances– due to lousy judicial response to dv that adds to the protection racket dynamics, are sometimes prone to uncharacteristically and out of desperation “monkey branch” and fall into involvement with the men who pose as their rescuers/body guards?

Since more than 50% of those situations end with the woman being abused by a subsequent abusers since relationship choices made under duress tend not to work out very well for victims, stoning might not even be necessary. Many will end up dead anyway. One way to prevent this situation is if, one day, victims could one-sidedly dissolve all marital obligations by getting a form stamped in the same court they proved domestic abuse while the guilty party would still be expected to pay an adjusted settlement and child support while automatically losing custody and also having no legal means to locate their victims. Unfortunately we’re a long, long way from that happening so, for the time being, I give an ethical pass to victims of dv. I don’t think it counts as cheating in a secular sense though I wouldn’t recommend it because of the risks and the fact that divorce and custody judges might not agree that marriages are “over” from the second the fists come out.

And would the stoning/scarlet letter policy include women in countries that don’t allow women to divorce or even separate without potentially forfeiting child custody who are abandoned by cheating husbands or who escape violent marriages who then eventually form relationships with other people despite not being divorced on paper?

I figure you’re half kidding but it’s always worth mentioning certain caveats against even criminalizing cheating, moreover caveats against applying Sharia law.

Overmim
Overmim
14 days ago

I guess I should clarify, to mean in the United States. I hadn’t thought of implications in other countries or religions. Just thinking of what my cheating Ex deserves.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago
Reply to  Overmim

Well, if I’m honest, as far as your particular cheating ex is concerned, I might fantasize about sneakily tossing road gravel at his head if he crossed my path. But legislating it as official corporal punishment and using bigger rocks? Hmmm. Socio-politically complicated.

oldDogNewTricks
oldDogNewTricks
14 days ago

I’ll just put this out there for those who don’t keep up with YLS shennanigans–Jed Rubenfeld was disciplined (but not enough!) for sketchy & sexualized behavior with students. Well known as that kind of prof. I would not be surprised if it ever comes out that he did stuff like sex for grades. He’s also taken some suspect positions on law related to sexual behavior, although tbh I can’t remember details. Because who wants to go through life thinking about creeps like him? see: https://yaledailynews.com/commencement2023/2023/05/22/since-rubenfelds-suspension-yale-law-women-and-yls-title-ix-working-group-advocate-for-increased-transparency-and-justice/

Cam
Cam
14 days ago

It’s absolutely rape by deception. I knew my ex for two years and wouldn’t have touched him with a ten foot pole if I’d known he had a fiancee the entire time. I was deeply traumatized when I found out, and that trauma followed me for the next decade and earned me a PTSD diagnosis.

Viktoria
Viktoria
14 days ago

Well this is just my personal opinion and I haven’t thought about this concept before, but it to me rape is someone having sex with you without your knowledge (because you are asleep or passed out) or having sex “whether you want it or not” ie by force or emotional & psychological & spiritual coercion. By coercion I mean begging, pleading, whining, blame shifting (psychological abuse such as “There must be something wrong with you that you don’t want to do this”), using spiritual abuse (mis-applied and misunderstood bible verses ie religious abuse) and guilt tripping. All this that I’ve described, is imo rape and sexual abuse. A cheater having sex with you while you don’t yet know that he’s cheating…. is that rape? I don’t know but it is for sure sexual abuse.

tallgrass
tallgrass
14 days ago

This is an important topic to me. My four granddaughters were involved in conversations in the family buzz at D-Day when everyone agreed that, “He wasn’t getting sex, what did she expect was going to happen?” FW was able to sell the story far and wide that he couldn’t get sex anymore so he was forced to have an affair at work. And now, my adult children were telling me, “He’s happy now. Why can’t you be happy for him?”

I would like to state for the public record….that yes, I know how long it was that he did not get sex (with me at least) because I ALSO DID NOT GET SEX! No one at all seems to be worried about my mental and physical health during this excruciatingly painful time of my life.

And…. the oldest granddaughter was old enough at the time that when she said this family agreed upon statement to me… I could hold myself together well enough to respond, “See this? (I circled my hands and arms around my chest and heart/body)? Anyone who does not treat me with respect does not get to be in this space.” I think she understood. My other granddaughters are not going to have the advantage of at least hearing this response as they go forward, groomed as perfect victims for the next generation of abusive marriages.

My family, very obviously was very concerned, WAY MORE than I could have anticipated, that their dad’s erections were not being properly attended to. This was THE deciding factor in their immediate dumping of me from the family (after 40 years) to swoop in and welcome Schmoopie with open arms. It is mindfuckery at it’s best. I very nearly did not survive it.

Thank you, chumplady, for hosting this site and the support it offers to so many. I would not be alive today if not for you and a handful of others who understood and stood up for what is right. It was good for me to have a place today to speak out.

OHFFS
OHFFS
14 days ago
Reply to  tallgrass

They have internalized male priviledged as a norm. It’s scary how many young girls are still being brainwashed like that.
What they did to you is unconscionable.

Last edited 14 days ago by OHFFS
Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I wish Susan Faludi would write an equivalent sequel and update to Backlash, her thirty year old review of the decennial campaign to “groom” and brainwash every generation to embrace ceepy rapey monkey rule.

tallgrass
tallgrass
14 days ago
Reply to  tallgrass

Also, thoughts today of the years of bruises on the insides of my thighs, constantly, and my upper arms. Sometimes someone would notice and ask. I never had a response. Always looked at them, seeing them for the first time, yet again.

I did not consider it rape. Just his inability to be kind or gentle. Then D-Day arrives and the fog begins to lift and you see……yeah, that’s not normal. The handful of times he forced my thighs apart painfully. The laughter at walking up behind me at the kitchen sink and knocking my knees out from under me, then catching me and telling others in the kitchen, “She always thinks I will let her fall.” The fun trick the first decade of our marriage of lifting my boobs and then letting them drop so they bounce and it hurt. He thought it was great fun until I finally said, “No more.” My daughter-in-law, after D-Day saying, “Your body was smart enough to shut down to him. It saved you.”

Marriage does not mean ownership. But, in my family of generational abuse, it really means ownership. I signed the papers. I was required to stay and find a way to make it work no matter how bad it got. I would still be there today if not for his abrupt, horrible discard day. I even asked one time during the divorce if he would take me back. It’s really a wonder sometimes that he didn’t just kill me. My family would have shrugged and asked, “What did she do this time?”

Thanks for listening today. I’m really processing some ugliness lately. 4 years out. Enough time of safety to dig up some of the worst of it.

Shadow
Shadow
14 days ago
Reply to  tallgrass

Oh bless you, I’m so sorry you have been treated like that! It’s hideous! I think your family totally betrayed you and though I’m not easily shocked at my age, I find what they’ve done to you so disturbing, I don’t think words are adequate to convey how I feel about it!
Fair play to you for standing up for yourself against all of them, that takes massive amounts of strength and courage!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
14 days ago
Reply to  tallgrass

I remember part of the media war footing building-up to the invasion of Iraq harped a lot about women being forced to wear veils or forced into marriage. But I also remember thinking that, after all the incredible and completely unregulated sexism and harassment I’d endured in a competitive, narc-filled industry, that that finger pointing in the US was driven mostly by “externalization of evil,” i.e., projection. US culture seemed thrilled and relieved to find any culture worse than ourselves in that regard. In fact, the finger pointing seemed to act as a pressure valve to keep from facing our own societal flaws so the absurdly hypocritical finger pointing was hardly reassuring. Sexist offenses might be somewhat louder and more technicolor in some undeveloped countries but it’s not like our own culture is even close to free from frightening and even lethal discrimination.

Erin
Erin
14 days ago

On D-Day, FW told me he had been having sex with a prostitute in a massage parlor.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I immediately began pick me dancing. I had sex with him. I thought he was in love with her, and I wasn’t ready to give him up. Cringe!

Three months after D-Day, he confessed that during our 35 year marriage he had had sex with so many prostitutes he could not (or would not) give me the actual number.

So — was it rape, or just assault with an inept weapon?

2xchump
2xchump
14 days ago
Reply to  Erin

On.the flip.side, as my cheater got more and more brazen and coercive, I refused to.have sex with him on his time table. After D day he told my family, my church , his work buddies and his lawyer that i.was withholding sex so he was forced to find alternatives. I can see court cases going back and forth with claims like this …..and who gets paid in the end?

Rarity
Rarity
14 days ago

Count me 100% in the “infidelity is rape” camp. I have thought of this often over the years.

The logic of categorizing stealthing as a form of rape is that, even though sex has been consented to, risk of pregnancy and STDs has not. The woman only agreed to sex with the understanding that the man would take precautions (i.e. a condom) to minimize STD and pregnancy risk. If he then slides the condom off without telling the woman, he has violated part of the contract and so voided her entire consent.

That same logic applies to infidelity, and especially applies in my case. I was a product of the 1990s evangelical purity movement. I married my first husband believing we were both virgins, and only had unprotected sex with him due to my sincere belief that we were engaging in monogamy, and therefore, my STD risk was non-existent. Had he informed me that he cheated on me within the first year of our marriage (and may have cheated on me while we were engaged), I would have backed out of the engagement / marriage and not had [any more] sex him. He introduced risk into the marriage that I did not agree to, violated part of our marriage contract, and so voided my entire consent. By deception he then obtained ~9 more years of sexual contact with me and and burdened me with an STD risk that I otherwise would not have consented to.

I had an abnormal pap smear a few years after the divorce. It wound up being non-cancerous, but I was furious that I was in my 30s and had only had one sexual partner my entire life, and that one partner may have given me HPV.

I suppose some would worry categorizing infidelity as rape will cheapen rape and is disrespectful to the victims of violent rape, but that was what opponents of making marital rape a crime said back in the 1970s. Acknowledging that there are other forms of rape out there does not disrespect rape victims or diminish what rape is.

Samsara
Samsara
14 days ago
Reply to  Rarity

Thank you Rarity for this eloquent nuanced comment. This is exactly why I regard infidelity as rape. I’m in your camp 💯
Anyone trying to argue the shades of grey / gray of rape and consent are missing the point. If consent isn’t full and informed then it’s rape. As a rape survivor I can assure all readers here — whether the sexual contact is forced, violent, coerced, unknowingly agreed to, unwittingly given even or at an instance even protracted for other reasons, given as a pacifier to self protect or stealthed or inflicted upon a child who has no understanding of what they’re doing or been asked to do — it’s still rape, it’s also sexual assault AND it’s also sexual abuse.
It CAN be all these things. Separately or together. Whether legally that definition covers it depends on what geolocation you’re presently sitting in.
I felt raped and I consider I was raped when my husband coerced me into sex (just like Lizza Lee describes above) when I didn’t want it AND when I didn’t know about his secret sexual basement on other occasions in the marriage.
I was raped by a fellow student in college and yes it was violent / forced.

I am a survivor and BOTH kinds of rape / assaults felt the same in terms of the level of violation… ie complete and utter.
Those who split hairs on it conceptually need to think more deeply about it.

When I found about about my husband’s extra marital activities in the context of intimacy with me, I came undone. I literally collapsed.
I was hospitalized. It was life threatening and very very serious and I nearly didn’t survive it.
No one can tell me it isn’t a crime to do that to another person.
What I went through proves the harm, the trauma, the nightmare it’s taken me years and all that I have spiritually and psychologically to recover from.
Yes I had STD effects. Yes I narrowly avoided cancer.
The legal structures that vary in this regard and persist in diluting, slicing and dicing it are NEVER looking at it from the harm caused and as such they reflect their source: that of a patriarchal, power-based, deliberately obtuse societal ambiguity about the very primal thing that is at the heart of life.

Not only that, The “egg shell skull rule” in criminal law is the principle of “you take your victim as you find them”. It’s not about the act itself it’s about the impact on the victim and no one can tell a victim the upper limit or lower limit of their own personal harm based outcomes. That’s an important subtlety and is often overlooked in these sorts of well meaning but often misguided discussions. I studied criminal law and have extensive personal legal experience in the family law jurisdiction so I have given a lot of deep thought to these issues. Stealthing and the dramatic about turn legally on this concept alone says there needs to be similar drastic and major overhaul of all rape / consent legal frameworks across all countries to protect victims and give pause to perpetrators of all forms of sexual abuse.

The rape issue — in general but here specifically as it relates to infidelity — lays bare the hypocrisy of the world.

OHFFS
OHFFS
14 days ago
Reply to  Rarity

“I suppose some would worry categorizing infidelity as rape will cheapen rape and is disrespectful to the victims of violent rape, but that was what opponents of making marital rape a crime said back in the 1970s. Acknowledging that there are other forms of rape out there does not disrespect rape victims or diminish what rape is.”

Well said.

Samsara
Samsara
14 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Precisely why I wrote my reply above OHFFS. Agree completely.

2xchump
2xchump
14 days ago

So when you are drugged by the likes of a Cosby guy..that is wrong supposedly and you go to jail. You drank a laced drink let’s say but were not told it was laced. Deception right? Replace that with sleeping with a spouse you think is monogamous but he is deceiving you. In my case there was coercion for sex ( rages silence
complaints,sad sausage, sleeping on the couch, veiled threats of abandoning) and an invisible unknown pick- me – dance.where I was never good enough. Devalued, demeaned, coerced and deceived in a supposedly monogamous relationship. I got STIs and was gaslite on that. On D DAY I found out the reason for everything. Yes I felt raped, dirty, used, lied to and went right to my gyn. Yes I had sex with a man I would not have touched otherwise. We need to first get coercion laws on all the States books. Once that is sold it ties right into rape. What can we do to make this happen?

Nut Cluster Free Zone
Nut Cluster Free Zone
14 days ago

I think I found Joyce Short’s website (Consent Awareness, formerly named Rape by Fraud) before I found Chump Lady’s.

Raise your hand if you felt nauseous and vomited when you realized what your spouse/partner had done. That queasy feeling with ear ringing before passing out.

Conchobara
Conchobara
14 days ago

I am not the legal mind you are looking for but I have a few thoughts.

Without question to me it is sexual abuse and potentially sexual assault–when I read the heartbreaking stories of force in this thread.

It is intimate partner abuse.

I fear that if it were to be passed as a law spouses would still not receive any potential protections because look at how well the justice system cares for us now! If a FW did to their business partner or a stranger the things they’ve done to us they would go to prison but because we were/are married, they just lose some of their possessions and custody time.

Shortly after DDay I confronted FW about his mental abuse, psychological abuse and s*xual abuse. He just sat there and said, “I get why you think I mentally and psychologically abused you but I didn’t rape you or anything.” (BTW, thanks for acknowledging the abuse; if only you would do so to my lawyer!)

My head nearly exploded. I countered that I didn’t have INFORMED consent in our s*xual relationship because he had unilaterally opened our marriage up for himself and I was unaware of that. I was, in essence, having an intimate relationship with a parade of strange women very much against my will. If I’d been aware of the circumstances I would never, ever have been intimate with him again.

FW never forced me but he cajoled and whined and gave me the silent treatment if he didn’t get his way. I suppose for me that’s why I would have difficulty classifying my experience as r@pe – but would be fully comfortable with intimate partner abuse, s*xual abuse, etc. But this is only for my own situation, I would never presume to define someone else’s assault/r@pe for them. I may have felt that I ‘gave in’ rather than was forced so I felt like I still had a measure of consent but others may disagree and say that his childish behavior to get me to give in was force or ‘against my will’.

Last edited 14 days ago by Conchobara
aeolian
aeolian
14 days ago

Oh cheating is 100000% rape. And I wish cheaters would be criminally charged like rapists. See how much they enjoy their kibbles and their “exuberant act of defiance” then. If it held actual legal consequences on par with rape I wonder if more of them would thus be removed from the dating pool so they wouldn’t go and abuse more victims.

(I also think rapists and cheaters should be castrated, but I’m not sure if the world needs me as any form of policymaker because I probably would reintroduce barbaric methods of punishment for criminals that humanity should have evolved beyond. Cheated on your pregnant wife with cancer who has 3 children? Off with your head! No, that’s too much. Off with your balls! That’s better.)

Sirchumpalot
Sirchumpalot
14 days ago

My ex wife force herself on me after I said no repeatedly. She was trying to cover over having unprotected sex while not on any birth control. I told her “I know (suspected) you are cheating on me”. She woke me up while I was asleep and said “ you are not saying no to me”. She use that rape as a cover with her getting pregnant. 14 years later I found out it wasn’t mine. This was on our wedding anniversary..

I felt raped that she deceived me into getting a vasectomy. Telling me that she wouldn’t have sex with me unless I got one. That I had TWO children (when I had only one biological).

Women can rape men also.

unicornomore
unicornomore
12 days ago

Thanks to everyone for such an important discussion. To me this is a good example of something being truly wrong, but the nuances of it prevent well-intentioned laws from being helpful in prosecuting someone and possibly hurting those who have already been hurt.

I tip-toed around my cheater in an awkward wreckonsillyation until his last breath but one day I said something brash to him not even intending to.

I thought that my Betrayer had had only one affair which he didnt even admit to being physical but I was wrong, he likely had many adulterous sex partners, BUT, BEFORE I KNEW THAT…

In the era where Tiger Woods (who my Cheater idolized) was discovered to have been a Giant Betrayer and Fucker of Waitresses …I was reading about Tigers penchant for adultery when my Betrayer (still lying and denying) walked by my office.

and I said to my Betrayer “Tiger committed ‘biohazards rape’ against his wife. He knowingly exposed her to disease pretending to be monogamous.She didnt give consent to being exposed to disease”

He stopped in his tracks and just stared at me with the strangest look on his face. I thought he was butthurt that I accused his idol of dastardly deeds. The true impact on my Cheater was likely huge, in part, because I had no intention of accusing him of biohazards rape, I didnt even know it had been done to me.

Towards the end of his life, he looked like a doomed person yet I didnt understand why. I think he got away with adultery with zero consequences for so long, he got brash and figured there would never be a day of reckoning and for years continued his behavior. I would have forgiven him a LOT, but had I learned the extent of his actions, I would have blown up everything and left him with scorched earth.

At the end, I think he knew that he had destroyed any chance he ever had to live an authentic, integrated life with his wife and kids. We sometimes had lovely moments together that suddenly chilled and a strange look came over his face. I think those were the “if she only knew” moments of realization. And I think my naming the actions of “biohazards rape” to him was a nail in the coffin of our life.

He died of natural causes after refusing to get medical care when he believed himself to be sick. I think it was passive suicide in part because of the corner he spent years painting himself into.

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
9 days ago

I told my FW that I wished that there were better laws for infidelity, that it was outright abuse, and the perpetrator couple should be prosecuted, or that the very least, be able to be sued for loss of joy and happiness, along with loss of money and other things us chumps lose because we are basically forced to divorce our cheaters, unless we are willing to settle for someone who devalued us to the point of treating us worse than a dog.

And I think that the ability to sue them for rape should be included in that prosecution. I have had all sorts of men rape me, from in childhood with a close relative, to the boyfriend of my sister, to several guys in high school, to both of my ExFW’s. I definitely need to fix my picker, but that doesn’t mean I deserved to be chumped and betrayed and also raped by deception. If you do not give consent, it’s rape, plain and simple, and being tricked into it by withholding pertinent info, counts!

Had my 2nd FW spouse told me he was cheating, I would have said Hell No to having sex with him. for the many months he took advantage of me in every way, including using my body for his pleasure. It may not be violent rape, but it is still rape, because I was not given all information I needed for informed consent. I told him if we had these type of laws, I would have definitely sued them both. They had no right to tear my life apart, and they did secretly, not expecting to get caught of course. These people at the VERY LEAST need to be slapped with large fines, both parties. Maybe that will help deter some from their attacks of infidelity against innocent, unsuspecting spouses/partners! This is reprehensible behavior and someone needs to stop ignoring it and start holding people accountable. There is a price to play and these cheaters need to start paying the price, NOT the chumps!

PrincipledLife
PrincipledLife
3 days ago

My head is spinning at this post and the comments, because it is a leap forward in describing the harm done to chumps, and in my own thinking on the matter. I feel we are all in the wilderness trying to name something that has been unnamed and undefined for so long.

I don’t think rape is the correct term, but we need one because the offense is every bit as serious as rape and there needs to be legal consequence for it. In the comments one poster said that when a person who has HIV has sex with someone without disclosing that fact, that person is guilty of reckless endangerment. In not disclosing a known risk, they keep their sexual partner from making informed choices: avoiding the risk altogether or taking precautions against infection, with very serious consequences: the partner may die or become seriously ill, any child in utero or breastfeeding or conceived subsequently may die or become seriously ill, and a lifetime of costly medication with their own serious side-effects may be necessary. I would argue that engaging in undisclosed risky behavior is the salient fact, as opposed to definitive knowledge of infected status. The latter is obviously worse, but the first case is anything but blameless.

When a man and a woman marry, in most cultures and under most vows, monogamy (and the concomitant ability to assume minimal sexual risk) is part of the contract. A man who has sex with his wife while having sex with other women, other men, prostitutes and so on, breaks that contract and prevents his wife from making informed choice and avoiding the risk altogether or taking precautions against infection. There is damage to the partner regardless of the consequence. If someone is, unbeknownst to you, engaging you in a game of Russian roulette, that is in itself damaging, whether or not a bullet shatters your temple. The latter being worse of course, but the first case criminal as well. Both should be considered instances of reckless endangerment.

A return to fault divorce is needed, and guidelines for assessing penalties against the guilty party. It is not rocket science and shouldn’t tie up divorce court unnecessarily. If a spouse commits domestic violence, check. Reckless endangerment? Check. Aggravated reckless endangerment (consequence such as infertility, STD, spontaneous abortion, fetal impairment, death, chronic illness, partner PTSD, raising a child of no biological relationship to oneself)? Check all that apply. And then custody and financial settlements take those items into account. It wouldn’t be more complex than the current system and would be many times more fair. And a deterrent effect would be helpful to society.

In the business world, when two parties legislate a broken contract, it does matter whether one party has embezzled funds and engaged in activities complete disregard of the contract. One party is not allowed to endanger the other through theft, one-sided risk assumption, and so on. It should matter in marriage and custody disputes as well.

There have been many areas and industries which have had to, over the course of time, adopt a standardized nomenclature so that people can communicate accurately, with a common tongue and understood definitions. We need the same in family law.