The following is an excerpt from Hidden Hurt (linked above):
“Stranger rape is usually a one-off, someone you don’t know, with whom you don’t share any experiences or history. When the assault happens, there can be no doubt as to what is happening: that it is Rape (though even in such situations the victim will often wonder what she has done to precipitate the assault and will blame herself).
In marital rape the circumstances are very different. It is – quite apart from a physical and sexual violation – a betrayal of trust. Here is a person whom you thought you knew intimately, with whom you share a history, a home and quite often children. Here is a person whom you have made love to on a frequent basis often over many years, with whom you have shared your most intimate secrets and fears, and whom you believe to love you, want the best for you, who would never intentionally hurt you. Marital rape is so destructive because it betrays the fundamental basis of the marital relationship, because it questions every understanding you have not only of your partner and the marriage, but of yourself. You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated and, above all, very confused.
Also, while stranger rape is a sexual act of violence outside (as in: apart from) the victims normal relationships, marital rape has to be understood in the context of an abusive relationship, that is, in the context of emotional and possibly physical abuse.
One of the differences between stranger and intimate rape is that stranger rape will nearly always involve a certain degree of physical violence (one notable exception to this is rape involving the date rape drug) while a lot of cases of marital rape will involve coercion and only enough force to control the victim, known as ‘force-only’ rapes.
Another problem victims of marital rape face is that such instances are rarely a one-off, but a repeated if not frequent occurance. This can be a huge issue to the victim, because she will feel as though she has somehow ‘asked for it’ by staying or putting herself in the situation where it can happen again. Also, once it has been tolerated on a number of occassions, she may question her right to then act upon it (linked above).”