Does Rough Sex Sound Like It’s Domestic Violence to You?
First, it was a series of books. When “Fifty Shades of Grey” hit the big screen, it raised questions. Some claimed it cultivated an acceptance of abuse. However, what’s the truth? Does rough sex sound like it’s domestic violence to you?
In the meantime, there’s something to consider. Consensual rough sex suggests something far different than forced sexual violence. While some think of the first as kinky, the latter clearly means something far different.
You may already know that the acronym BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism. Some loving couples find the exchange of power and infliction of pain spices up their sex life. Again, provided it involves consent between adult partners, it’s really no one’s business.
That said, a lack of consent suggests something else entirely. In that case, rough sex might fall into the category of sexual assault. And, yes, that counts as an act of domestic violence.
Couple Engaged in Consensual Rough Sex
Some think of it as a fine line. Advocates for abuse victims argue that there is no such thing as consensual rough sex. Meanwhile, those accused of domestic violence for consensual rough sex submit the charges against them are false allegations. In those cases, it’s up to the court to determine the credibility of the parties.
New Jersey law contains very few cases published at the trial court level. That said, T.M. v. R.M.W. addresses two legal issues of first impression decided by a family court judge in Superior Court.
The first consideration focuses on whether T.M. actually qualifies as a victim of domestic violence. She and R.M.W. are not family members, were not married, and did not have a child together.
Meanwhile, another category allows alleged victims to seek restraining orders to protect themselves against domestic violence. When T.M. filed the complaint seeking a restraining order, she checked off the box indicating that she and R.M.W. were in a dating relationship.
R.M.W. disagreed with the characterization. In fact, he and the plaintiff admitted that the two actually engaged in a periodic sexual relationship over eight years. In some circles, one might consider the two as friends with benefits. Others used a less polite term to describe the limitation of the couple’s interaction.
According to the case history, T.M. filed the complaint seeking the court’s protection after an incident that occurred on September 18, 2017.
Neither party disputed that T.M. invited R.M.W. to her home. Additionally, T.M. admitted that she agreed to “have consensual rough sex” with the defendant, but “him punching her was not part of it.”
Was There a Dating Relationship?
In determining whether a dating relationship, the court asked both parties a number of questions. Notably, both parties represented themselves and did not retain legal counsel to guide them through the process.
According to the testimony, T.M. was 15 when she began her sexual relationship with the defendant; R.M.W. was 17. The two had sporadic and casual sex over a period of eight years. Meanwhile, they did have a three-year break during that time span. They never held themselves out to be boyfriend and girlfriend.
From all appearances, it seemed that the parties attempted to keep their relationship secret. At the very least, R.M.W. concealed the sexual encounters from his actual girlfriend. Did the fact that T.M. and R.M.W. were not recognized as a couple matter? What about the possibility of a “secret dating relationship”?
The court acknowledged that interpersonal relationships have changed. T.M. and R.M.W. shared intimate and personal encounters together. Therefore, it would be wrong to deny T.M. the opportunity to seek protection under the Domestic Violence Act. To do so, “could potentially be seen as morally judging a plaintiff who chooses not to engage in a relationship with “traditional” and “observable” indicia of dating.
In deciding whether T.M. could seek a restraining order, the court recognized the couple’s intimate encounters as a dating relationship. The fact that the two engaged in long term consensual sex added to the claim.
Consensual Rough Sex: Domestic Violence?
T.M. admitted that she and the defendant engaged in consensual rough sex on numerous occasions. However, on the date in question, she objected to the direction the encounter took them. She did not have an issue with R.M.W. slapping her with an open hand, pulling her hair, or choking her. And, yet, all of these actions could cause bodily harm.
The problem started when R.M.W. punched T.M. with an open fist. Notwithstanding, the plaintiff admitted she continued to voluntarily engage in further sexual relations for another twenty minutes. According to the defendant, T.M. “objected” to the punch, but continued to have consensual sex with him.
Somewhere along the lines, the punch to the jaw changed characterization to a tap to the jaw. The judge found little difference between a hard slap and a tap to the jaw. This occurred after a review of the medical records and photographs T.M. introduced into evidence.
Although the plaintiff denied consenting to the “punch,” the two never set limits as far as their rough sex encounter. Meanwhile, prior claims of acts of domestic violence related to the pair’s “pattern and history” of consensual rough sex. Ultimately, the court did not find justification for a final restraining order. R.M.W. did not represent a threat as far as danger to persons or property.