The star, who has been photographed several times since she arrived in Britain to promote her new film A Million Ways To Die In The West, made the comments when she was asked by Sky News if she ever googled herself.
She told the channel: “I don’t do that, so that’s my saving grace. When you start living in that world, and doing that, you start I guess feeling raped.”
Asked by the interviewer if she felt that strongly about the issue, she said: “Well, you know when it comes to your son and your private life. Maybe that’s just me.
“Some people might relish all that stuff but there are certain things in my life that I think of as very sacred and I am very protective over them.”
South African-born Theron runs her ownanti-HIV project in Africa and has taken part in campaigns against sexual violence. In 1999 she filmed an advert for the ‘Real Men Don’t Rape’ campaign in her native South Africa where she told viewers that every 26 seconds a woman is raped in the country.
Rape victim Jill Saward said Theron’s remarks are “abhorrent” and she should apologise.
Ms Saward said: “I was really shocked and disgusted by what she’d said.
“Being in the situation she’d been in, campaigning for rape, she definitely ought to know better.
Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for sexual violence charity Rape Crisis in England and Wales, said: “We are concerned when anyone uses rape as a metaphor for less serious issues and uses the language around sexual violence casually because it trivialises sexual violence and it fails to acknowledge what is a very serious crime.”
The actress also came under fire online for her comments, with Twitter users lining up to criticise her, and one writing: “How could you say press invasion is like rape? Think rape victims would disagree.” Another, who tweets as erin_katie, said: “You need to look at your choice of words. Disgusting, Charlize Theron, get a grip.”
Gwyneth Paltrow drew criticism this week for comparing her struggle with internet trolls to being a soldier in a war.
The comment infuriated the wife of Arizona Senator John McCain, who took to Twitter, calling the actress “a joke” and stating that “My 2 sons serving in the military should talk to her.” McCain’s son Jimmy served in Iraq as a marine and her son Jack is a navy lieutenant. In a later interview Cindy McCain went a step further, calling Paltrow’s comments “ignorant” and “selfish”.
She added Paltrow might want to meet soldiers who had lost limbs in battle before making further comparisons between her Hollywood lifestyle and soldiers of war.