A glimpse into how the mind of a rapist works - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 19 June 2020

A glimpse into how the mind of a rapist works

Nancy Wairimu*, 34, was 23 when she was raped. It was the start of the December holidays. That day, her parents had left early in the morning to attend the burial of a relative, together with their neighbours, who were close friends.
An hour or two after they left, the neighbour’s 27-year-old son came calling.
“I wondered what he wanted, since we were not particularly close, but I wasn’t alarmed, so I politely ushered him in,” says Nancy.
But just after she shut the door behind her, he grabbed her by  shoulders from behind and shoved her to the floor.
“I tried to scream but he threatened to kill me, and as he raped me, he told me that he was teaching me a lesson for thinking that I was better than other people.”
The man then casually got up and left her crying on the floor. He was arrested several months later, after having gone into hiding the same day.
It was an act that severed the friendship between their families, and Nancy has never been the same since.
“I have managed to move on, but I don’t think I’ll ever be whole again.”
In most cases, says clinical psychologist Sylvia Okwarah, rapists are people known to their victims,  and the attacks are often premeditated.
“For instance, this person will have studied their victim’s movements, known what time they return home from work or when their parents are not around, in the case of children,” she adds.
As to what motivates a rapist, she says that by the time one progresses to sexual violence, a lot might have happened to the person mentally.
“In many cases, this anomaly can be traced to the environment one was raised in. If this person grew up being subjected to various forms of violence or witnessing it, rape becomes just another form of violence,” she says.
Prof Catherine Gachutha, a counselling psychologist, agrees. She says that, because most rapists are people that have gone through rape or some of violence, or mistreatment or rejection, “they may have lots of anger in them, especially if the person who abused them used the power they had over them to mistreat them – these individuals end up wielding their power over others later.”
She also singles out individuals who had a particularly bad relationship with their mother, who, she says, could take revenge on their mother by  sexually abusing women.
But what about individuals who never underwent any form of violence?
These are the ones with behavioural tendencies that they cannot  control, she says, what is referred to as compulsive obsessive behaviour.
“Such individuals cannot control their sexual urge, their addictions and obsessions, and so they may rape their own child, girlfriend, colleague, wife and even strangers when the opportunity presents itself – they’re just not able to tether their urges, and you will find that this lack of control emerged in childhood.”
Obviously, the psychological impact of rape is devastating.
To begin with, the rape victim develops low self-esteem. Because their boundaries were not respected, because they were misused and no one asked for their consent before robbing them of something precious, they feel worthless and end up developing far-reaching anger towards people and life in general.
“You have to understand that being violated in such a manner makes you feel that your power has been taken away from you, power to defend and stand up for yourself.”
But this is not all, this person is also more likely to be susceptible to rape again and again, especially if the rape took place in childhood.
“When you are raped, you become fearful, and the perpetrator can sense this fear and takes advantage of it to sexually violet you,” explains Prof Gachutha, observing that though rape is a traumatic experience due to its violent nature, it is possible to overcome the negative emotions that come with it and lead a happy, emotionally healthy life.
“You need to understand that you are not to blame for what happened to you and that you are not bad or evil, once you internalise this, then you can begin the journey towards healing, which involves, among other steps, talking about your experience,” advises the professor.

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