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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband's Sexual Assaults Can No Longer Be Ignored

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for almost 14 years. I'm a sound sleeper, and I suspect he has been having sex with me while I'm sleeping. I have woken up without clothes on, my undergarments askew or the waistband "rolled on." I called him on it and told him I knew and that I'm not OK with it.

Weeks later, I caught him red-handed. This time I was awake, but I was so frightened that I froze! I was sexually abused as a child and raped as an adult, and now I feel like my marriage has been turned upside down. My husband denies it. He claims it's all in my head.

My friends say that for the sake of my children I should ignore it or I'll turn their lives upside down. Abby, everyone thinks my husband is a catch! I'm sure if I walk away I'll lose friends -- maybe even some of my family. Please help me. I feel lost. -- TURNED UPSIDE DOWN IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TURNED UPSIDE DOWN: Your friends are wrong, and you should NOT "ignore" this. Sex without a person's consent is rape! When a husband does what you have described, it is called spousal rape.

Because he claims this is "all in your head," for your own sanity, make an appointment to discuss this with a licensed psychotherapist. With your unfortunate history, you should have spoken with someone already. Your husband is either grossly insensitive or derives pleasure from being a predator. His behavior is appalling, and you do not have to stand for it.

Counseling can help you decide whether to remain in this marriage. Regardless of what your ultimate decision may be, it will help you be emotionally resilient enough to live with your choice regardless of what your "friends" and family members may think.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Sex & Gender | Abuse