Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 30th 2014 Contents A33
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
A male contestant on a new
VH1 dating show didn't beckon
a woman to walk in front of
him out of politeness. He
wanted to check her out from
behind, and didn't need to use
The Dating Naked series is
the latest example of reality
television's newest trend.
Nudity is hot, no longer
confined to late-night premium
Leading the way is
Discovery's Naked and Afraid,
where a man and woman who
don't know each other fend for
themselves in the wilderness
for three weeks without a
stitch between them. That
programme's success since its
June 2013 premiere begat
VH1's Dating Naked and TLC's
real estate show, Buying
Naked, with more in the
What's the appeal?
Well, what do you think?
In a world of endless choices,
titillation lures. So do a catchy
title and the word "naked"
jump off the programme
It is never easy for Sherna Alexander to
relate the story of her early childhood, grow-
ing up in a home where she was subjected
to physical and sexual abuse for ten years.
Now, at 40, her scars are not all healed, but
she has made giant steps to recovery and her
life is being restored through unconditional
love and forgiveness.
She was only six and a half when a man
who was supposed to be one of her guardians
raped her and forced her to repeatedly perform
Alexander s father, a nurse at the St Ann s
Hospital and a former officer in the T&T
Defence Force, died in 1981, leaving her and
her younger brother in the care of a relative
and a male friend.
Once the abuse began, Alexander said she
endured it almost every day. She vividly
remembers the first time she was raped.
"He walked with some type of lubricant and
told me it will hurt but this will make me feel
"It was a pain I would never forget...excru-
tiating. I felt as though my stomach was being
ripped apart and it was like I was suffocating
with his weight on top of me. I still remember
the smell of his breath and his heavy breathing.
And him touching my face and licking my
chest," she said.
In the following days she felt sick, could not
walk properly, and bathing and urinating were,
in her own words, "like hell." But this did not
stop the perpetrator. To intimidate her, he
would often threaten to beat and kill Alexander.
At other times he would say, "I care about
you; I love you; I would be a father to you and
support you; you are special to me."
Despite his threats, Alexander still told a
teacher at primary school, but nothing was
done. And when she subsequently told her
guardian---who also physically abused Alexander
and her brother---her guardian s response was:
"Talk to Jesus and pray plenty."
As the physical abuse persisted, Alexander s
brother fled the house in St James. But too
fearful of running away, she reluctantly stayed.
Her role as a sex slave intensified as she grew
older. Life for Alexander was constant torture.
Many days she cried. She would daydream
about dying or having a better life, like her
classmates, who always looked so happy and
seemed to have loving parents.
"I thought something was wrong with me
and I was the only child in the world expe-
riencing this. I often wondered why God hated
me. I slowly began to have a hatred for anything
religious, especially since [her relative] was a
Christian and the teacher who taught me reli-
gious instruction also molested the girls, touch-
ing me as well many times. I wondered how
could a caring God allow this to happen."
With no one coming to her rescue, Alexander
tried to find ways to deter her abuser, including
not bathing or brushing her teeth for lengthy
"I thought if I didn t do these things and
I smelled bad enough, he would leave me
But instead her deliberate poor hygiene led
to a severe case of oral thrush.
"I remember my mouth being so sore and
it was difficult to swallow. They took me to
the family doctor and I remember trying to
tell him what was happening to me..."
The doctor responded by asking her
guardians to send her over to his home three
times a week, "just to relax and spend time
with his family. I guess this was his way of
helping," Alexander said.
But even a few hours away from home did
not bring relief, as once she returned at nightfall,
the torment continued.
Unable to stomach any more, she attempted
suicide. A cocktail of pills taken from the med-
icine chest and a cupful of mouthwash were
going to be her ultimate escape. Her plan did
not work. She was rushed to the same doctor,
and this was followed by a sound beating with
a fan belt by her guardian.
"I felt like an experiment that each person
had to use and take a piece of. I felt worthless,
and just wanted to die," she said.
While she was at secondary school Alexander
began having sex with older men, while still
Raped and abused...
Sherna Alexander, president of Organisation For Abused and Battered Individuals (OABI).
Alexander is a former victim of child and domestic abuse. She now educates men, women and
children on living a life free of abuse and violence, through her organisation.
Whenever you see Alexander today, she
is busy organising a forum for victims of
abuse to speak out. The mother of two,
she is the founder and CEO of a seven-
year-old NGO, the Organisation for
Abused and Battered Individuals (OABI),
which offers counselling and rehabilitation
for victims; educational programmes on
domestic abuse and sexual violence;
workshops, lectures; group support and
Alexander is also a representative for
the Break the Silence campaign developed
by Unicef and the Institute for Gender and
Development Studies UWI, St Augustine.
She can be reached at 763-2576 or
HELPING OTHERS HEAL
Take off your clothes to make it in TV
Continues on Page A34
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