Today's Big Stories, Spotlight on Rape

Why do women stay with sexual predators? Insights into 'sex offender couples'

Clinical sexologist Dr. Eve says society must acknowledge that there are men and women living with, in a relationship with, or who are attracted to a sex offender.

Statistics of sexual violence in South Africa are so high that complex relationships with sex offenders are inevitable.

'Sex offender couples' have unique dynamics which need to be addressed in order to avoid unhealthy relations.

Dr. Eve says sex offender couples must seek help in order to find the right ways to navigate through the relationship, if they are intent on staying together.

She explains that ongoing counselling is needed in order to avoid relapse and deal with any dysfunction or intimacy disorder.

There needs to be ongoing counselling. We don't want to have any recidivism.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Dr.Eve says women often give their sex offender partners the benefit of the doubt, while the men may have "insecure attachments" and low self-esteem.

She advises that there can be a great deal of mistrust in a relationship if the past of a sex offender somehow comes to light, without their full disclosure.

However, social stigma can deter a sex offender from speaking openly about their history of sexual violence.

There are many things we don't share with other people. Like mental illness or how many lovers we've had in the past. People struggle generally to share.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

A personal story:

Listener Cali called in to share her courageous story of walking away from a relationship with a sex offender.

She says he did not disclose his previous assaults to her until she too was raped by him.

Cali explains that he did not comprehend what constitutes rape, adding that she justified reasons to stay with him despite his violent acts.

I've been in an on-and-off relationship with a sex offender for the last year. He has committed rape before. And he has also raped me.

Cali, caller

But eventually she found the strength to leave because of warning signs that were evident in the relationship.

I finally released that I am putting myself and my seven year old daughter at risk. How do I justify that?

Cali, caller

Cali urged women in relationships with sex offenders to not guilt or shame themselves for the decisions they make.

Women need to remember that beating themselves up about the choices they make does not help.

Cali, caller

Dr Eve says it's always important to tread carefully and take care of yourself. Learn more on her blog.

Listeners called in to share their concerns, experiences and encounters:

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