Mr Cullen made the comments at a media law seminar on Thursday when explaining the effect on him of unfounded allegations that he had an affair with his former PR consultant, Monica Leech.
“During that period, the only way I can describe it to you is that… it was like waking up every day and being raped as a man – and that is how I felt and I use those words very carefully. But that was actually how I felt,” he told the seminar.
His comments drew considerable reaction yesterday on at least one radio show.
A number of listeners contacted the Lunchtime with Eamon Keane programme on Newstalk to complain about Mr Cullen’s choice of words after an audio recording of his comments was aired.
Other listeners defended Mr Cullen, however, and said that the key message of his speech – the need for the media to act responsibly – was what deserved attention.
Mr Cullen, for his part, reiterated yesterday that he had chosen his words carefully in a bid to convey the effect of the incident on his life. He said he had been speaking to a very legalistic audience and that his comments should be seen in that context.
The topic of the seminar, organised by Hayes Solicitors, was the recently introduced Defamation Act.
Mr Cullen told the seminar that the media had a responsibility to report accurately and guard against invasion of privacy.
He stressed he was not seeking sympathy by making the remarks, but trying to illustrate the consequences of media intrusion. “In my case, a very simple accusation was made which was extremely wrong. It was absolutely and utterly untrue, but it almost destroyed my life and indeed my family’s life and the other person’s life as well,” he said. “I have never recovered from it and probably never will.”