marital-rape-existsMy heart rate jumps from 80 to 100 beats per minute. The skin over my chest and face flush.  A sharp pinch jolts the right side of my face as the meaty Masseter muscle wrenches my jaw shut.

Next to me, my third husband reclines on his half of the brown leather theatre seats. On the 55 inch curved television on the wall, a rerun of the State vs. O.J. Simpson miniseries is in progress. Talented actors portray the Dream Team lawyers arguing in Judge Ito’s chambers.  A female juror has failed to disclose she had been raped by her husband. The prosecution had petitioned the judge to dismiss her. I remember all of it. So long ago.

Three seconds before, F. Lee Bailey had rolled his eyes and said, “Well it wasn’t really rape. They were married.” Lee was flanked by the elegantly dressed Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz of the wild hair, and the ever-frowning Robert Shapiro, all of whom had straight-man-faces plastered on.

Inside my skull the phrase echoes, “It wasn’t really rape.  It wasn’t really rape.  It wasn’t really rape.”

Back on the screen, the lone woman in the room—assistant prosecutor Marcia Clark—swivels in slow-motion toward her opponents. Her deep-set dark eyes dilate, producing a bug-eyed impression. Her mouth slips open. She leaned toward F. Lee Bailey and replied icily, “You just said that. Out loud.”

The other lawyers in the scene gazed at her blankly, but in my head their faces morph into accusatory sneers. They are staring directly at me.

Bailey shrugged and finishes with, “Legally, I mean.”

Vaguely conscious that the action continues onscreen, my eyes remain locked on the pixels where Marcia’s head had been. Meanwhile, my thinker car derails—a spinning, sliding fall from the tracks.

In my pelvis, a series of muscles snap the tendons tight against the bony structures. Rectangular blobs of color float off the screen, collate into a half moon arc in my right visual field. I stop breathing.

Through the colors flashing in my peripheral vision, I see my husband’s profile. I imagine him saying to himself, “How boring. Wonder if there’s anything else on”. One more second passes since Marcia has spoken, but I am no longer in 2016. I have been yanked back to 1977.

A dark, hot Seattle bedroom. My drunk first husband held my bent arms down above my head. His unclipped fingernails bit into my skin. The pink and aqua flowered, soft flannel nightgown my mother had given me, crumpled up on my abdomen. Our three month old son lay in a lace-skirted bassinet asleep a few feet away.

I twisted my head away from the sour cheap wine smell of his breath.

“Stop,” I said, twisting my hips left, then right, trying to dislodge him, “I don’t want to.”

“You’re my wife and I’ll have sex with you anytime I want to,” he growled, doubling his effort to push down on my wrists as I squirmed and bucked underneath him.

Just as suddenly jerked back into the safety of my living room, I suck in air. I feel as though a hundred rebuking eyes stare at me from every corner of the living room. Goosebumps pop up on both arms.  A small muscle in the back of my throat twitches. The visual aura doubles. Pain pulses behind my right eye. I wince.

On screen, the legal narrative twists on toward climax.  I don’t turn to look at Husband #3.  I know he won’t be affected.  He has no idea.

Somewhere north of my umbilicus—the solar plexus, I guess—a thought bubbles all the way up in the clear voice of my sponsor.

When you’re ready, more will be revealed.

The O.J. Simpson Series Triggered My Marital Rape Memory was last modified: by

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