I was told that my body was not my own, but the touching went on despite me saying I was so tired and wanted to go back to sleep. I would wake up from the touching and pretend that I was still asleep. I can only remember once or twice that it went the whole way while I was sleeping. But I’ve since discovered now that my ex was sexually abusing me but using scripture to justify it.
This power and control tactic is not at all uncommon. Over the years I have had numbers of abuse victims tell me exactly what this quote from a survivor describes. Abuse during sleep. And very commonly, sexual abuse during sleep.
Abusers, as you know, lust for power and control. They demand it. It is like the rush of some drug to them. They even want their target to know that she is not even beyond that control during sleep! And so they demand sex at 2am or they startle her awake by shouting and raging about something she supposedly did wrong – and then eventually go back to a sound sleep themselves!
I knew one of these kind once. A supposed “fine Christian, husband, and father” you know. He would wake his wife up at ridiculous hours and demand sex. The Bible says she has to, you know – that is what he would tell her. And after all, he has needs.
Other victims have told me that their ability to get a good night’s rest was hindered because they were made to worry about what their abuser might do to them during sleep. Maybe he would sneak some poison into their glass of water on the night stand, or he could start raging at any moment. Here is another account:
I work full time in a very physical type of job so when I go to bed I’m really tired.
My ex only worked 1 day during the week and 1 day at the weekend. He was a terribly sleeper so would waken up during the night. He used to touch me while I was sleeping to waken me up so that he could have sex with me. I detested it, in the back of my head I wondered – is this because he has been watching porn while I’ve been sleeping, or watching it earlier in the day when I was at work? So I would turn on my side and pretend that I was still asleep – but sometimes he wouldn’t stop touching and I would be sore in the morning.
On occasions he would stop touching me when he realised he was going to get no where, other times he didn’t stop and the touching progressed.
I have to say that the odd time I ‘sleepily obliged’ just so I could get back to sleep again but I resented it as I was shattered and had to get up for work the next morning. I knew that if I didn’t I’d be in trouble the next day and get the silent treatment so I just had to let him. I’d always been told that my body belonged to my husband and as a submissive wife, I had to obey him.
Finally I saw my marriage for what it really was and put boundaries in place, but even when we finally separated, he accused me of being a rebellious wife, used by Satan and influenced by heretical feminist teaching online by not giving him his biblical rights and he quoted 1 Corinthians 7:4.
Abusers wear their target down in many ways, and one common method to effect this evil is to keep them exhausted from lack of sleep. Worn out people are easier to control. They don’t have the energy to resist and they don’t have the mental sharpness to recognize their abuser’s lies as easily. Abusers know all this. They know it well.
We have seen cases (more common than you might realize) in which really the abuser rapes their spouse during sleep. I mean, think about it. What is rape or sexual abuse of any kind? It is non-consensual sexual contact, right? In a way, this form of abuse is akin to what we call “date rape” by drugging the victim. Here is his wife. She is asleep. But he can do whatever he wants to her whenever he wants, however he wants. It’s his right, you know. And after all, the Bible says so, right?
1Co 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Of course the abuser leaves out the rest of what the Apostle Paul wrote. Husbands love your wives as your self. Let everything be done in love. Don’t consider yourself more important that others, and so on. For him, this business of him having authority over his wife’s body simply means he owns her in the same way that he owns anything else. Yet how many pastors tell abused wives – “well, you have to submit to him at all times. Men have needs you know.”
You are not required by the Lord to submit to abuse. And this business of being sexually or otherwise abused during sleep against your will is abuse. If you cannot lay your head down at night and sleep because you fear what your husband might do while you are sleeping, then be assured that something is very, very wrong. And you are not the problem.
Over the course of time – so often over many years – abuse that deprives a victim of sleep is going to take a terrible toll on her mental and physical health. I often wonder how in the world wives (and on occasion a husband who is married to an abuser wife) keep going on as they do. I don’t think I could. May the Lord lead all who are experiencing this night evil into His rest and peace.
Psa 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.