Agony aunt theorises about rape

Emotional transference could lead a victim of previous rape to perceive consensual sex as rape afterwards, a forensic psychologist told Jacob Zuma’s rape trial on Tuesday.

Testifying for Zuma, Louise Olivier also questioned whether his rape accuser froze during the alleged rape at his Johannesburg home on November 2 last year.

”She could have consensual sex, but because of transference from the past there is a change in what one believes,” said Olivier, who is also You magazine’s agony aunt.

The Johannesburg High Court has heard the complainant say that she was raped at the age of five and twice when she was 13. Zuma’s defence have produced witnesses who claim she has alleged at least 10 incidents of rape in the past.

Without referring directly to the work of trauma specialist Merle Friedman, Olivier repeatedly emphasised the importance of tests and evaluations in such cases.

When asked if the past incidents were relevant when assessing a victim, Olivier said: ”If someone told me all this I would be very careful to do a full psychological evaluation.”

Friedman told the court earlier in the trial that she had spent just over two hours with the complainant and regarded many tests as inappropriate because they where not ”normed” for South Africa.

Olivier said the complainant’s ability to remember the finer details of what Zuma said during the alleged rape was ”not compatible” with the theory that she froze and was in a dissociative state.

Olivier said her ability to correctly recall some of the things Zuma said to her on the night like ”you are delicious”, questions this theory.

She said the complainant’s full psychological and medical history should have been examined to make a proper finding, and noted that one of the tests alone that could have been conducted would have taken more than an hour.

It was important that the complainant said that she was not depressed afterwards and had not showered.

She had also made no effort to barricade herself in her room, as other victims do.

”I’ve seen people who have been raped and they sit there and wash themselves for hours, scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing,” said Olivier.

She also knew of a woman who had jumped two storeys out of a window to get away from the scene of a rape.

Other theories she presented to the court were that people who have been raped previously become sensitised to any nuance towards them to the point of being over sensitive. The exception is if they are suffering amnesia.

”Obviously there are women who freeze,” said Olivier, but a detailed assessment was necessary to confirm this.

She said there was also a delusional psychological state in which a person could make a claim which they believed was valid.

The trial continues. – Sapa

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Jenni Evans
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