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’Rape survivors often feel guilt, shame’

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In an open letter to the DFA, the vice-president of Optimystic Bikers against Abuse explained that the six-year-old girl who was allegedly raped in Vergenoeg last year was experiencing a normal bodily reaction at the time of the incident.

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IN AN OPEN letter to the DFA regarding the article “Rape was ‘pleasurable’”, the vice-president of Optimystic Bikers against Abuse, Celeste Louw, believed that the six-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by her 12-year-old sister’s boyfriend in Vergenoeg last year was experiencing a normal bodily reaction at the time of the incident.

She pointed out that rape survivors experienced high levels of guilt when their bodies responded to a sexual experience, regardless of whether it was physically violent – where beating or physical harm was involved – or not.

“This is a survival strategy, even when no consent is given. Our bodies are designed to find sex pleasurable. That is one of the reasons why so many rape survivors carry so much guilt – their bodies betray them,” explained Louw.

“Child rapists, in most cases, use coercion to allow touching and feeling that awakens the child’s body. They threaten them to stay quiet and ply them with treats and attention. The actual physical side of things doesn’t hurt because they are gentle in that regard. The child does not have the cognitive capacity to fully realise and process the extent of what is happening to them.

“It is 100 percent normal that this child could have enjoyed the sexual experience and is now sexually precocious because of the fact that her sexuality was awakened at the tender age of six years old. She is, in fact, from the description of the behavioral problems she is displaying, showing typical symptoms of child sexual abuse and is in desperate need of love, understanding and therapy. This is clearly an abused child, unhealed and needing care. She is not some sort of monster child.”

Louw added that rape survivors who were abused as children felt intense guilt and shame for what happened.

“It is as if somehow they are to blame for what happened to them, as if they have some desire to be raped.

“Child rapists who do not physically hurt their victims believe they are doing nothing wrong. Rape has long-term, life-changing effects that we need to educate people on.”

Louw said any child or adult survivor of abuse, regardless of their gender who were in need of assistance could contact the website www.optimystic.za.net or e-mail her on [email protected]

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