Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger: Our story of rape and reconciliation
Thordis Elva - Writer
Thordis Elva is one of the two authors of "South of Forgiveness," a unique collaboration between a survivor and perpetrator of rape. Full bio
Tom Stranger - Co-author, landscape gardener
Tom Stranger is the co-author "South of Forgiveness." Full bio
and descriptions of sexual violence
when I was 18 years old,
on an international exchange program.
who prefers proper icy cold weather,
when I got on a plane to Iceland,
my parents and brothers goodbye.
of a beautiful Icelandic family
of the melodic Icelandic language.
period of homesickness.
that you don't yet fully understand
I try out for the school play,
being part of the play,
to just hold hands
and she met my friends.
for a bit over a month
and in love for the first time.
of our relationship,
girl in the world.
rum for the first time that night, too.
to call me an ambulance,
in shining armor,
towards him soon turned to horror
and get on top of me.
too weak to fight back,
on my alarm clock.
seconds in two hours.
and crying for weeks,
about rape like I'd seen on TV.
what had happened to me as rape,
to address what had happened.
where girls are taught
from being raped that night,
from being raped that night
that I tried to stifle.
around my mind as it should've,
with memories of the night before.
of reality was forbidden.
refuted any recognition
in the days afterwards
myself it was sex and not rape.
spine-bending guilt for.
a couple of days later,
of my year in Iceland,
of heavyheartedness each time.
something immeasurably wrong.
I sunk the memories deep,
as "Denial and Running."
the real torment that I caused,
of my inner speak,
upon other parts of my life
that I wasn't a bad person.
this dark corner of myself,
for a nervous breakdown.
under a soul-crushing load of silence
that I cared about,
with misplaced hatred and anger
of the door in tears
in moments of inspiration,
to be constantly fidgeting,
as the words streamed out of my pen,
I've ever written,
that he subjected me to,
was my way out of my suffering,
he deserved my forgiveness,
of negative responses,
no response whatsoever.
that I didn't prepare myself for
full of disarming regret.
had been imprisoned by silence.
of an eight-year-long correspondence
that I'd wrongfully shouldered,
owned up to what he'd done.
closure for me.
didn't feel personal enough,
screen on the other side of the planet.
to explore to its fullest.
to propose a wild idea:
are geographically like this.
a stunningly powerful environment
and rapprochement been tested
to sit within the truth of its past,
of its history.
that Cape Town had on us.
our life stories to each other,
our own history.
of being honest,
with a certain exposure,
absolutely couldn't fathom
were spoken aloud and felt,
but liberating laughter.
to each other intently.
were aired with an unfiltered purity
than lighten the soul.
is a very human emotion --
as he had hurt me.
out of the hatred and anger,
my doubts along the way.
on that landing strip in Cape Town,
a therapist and a bottle of vodka
for understanding in Cape Town
in a victorious feeling
could be built out of the ruins.
that you needed when you were younger.
that the shame wasn't mine,
upon my return from Cape Town,
to people from both ends
to hear when we were younger.
that inevitably accompany it --
in their connotations.
as someone damaged,
has been branded a rapist,
to call him a monster --
what it is in human societies
the humanity of those who commit it?
if we're making them feel less than?
to one of the biggest threats
around the world,
are part of the problem?
were a self-centered taking.
behavior around me.
as having less intrinsic worth,
and symbolic claim to their bodies.
are external to me, though.
under the weight of responsibility.
of humanity would be burnt.
to really own what I did,
the entirety of who I am.
to constitute the sum of who you are.
was starved of oxygen,
with the clean air of acceptance --
this wonderful person standing next to me;
and shockingly everyday grouping of men
toward their partners.
changed my accord with myself,
to female survivors of sexual violence,
at a great distance from the truth.
conversation happening now,
that there's less retreating
but important discussion.
to add our voices to it.
that we're prescribing for others.
how to handle their deepest pain
you are in the world,
to speak out about rape.
traumatic event of my life
without getting ostracized,
my fellow survivors who can't.
violence being a global pandemic.
on my own healing journey
I've been reading, writing
for over a decade now,
are almost exclusively women.
sexual violence as a women's issue.
against women and men
underrepresented in this discussion.
we could alleviate
About the speakers:Thordis Elva - Writer
Thordis Elva is one of the two authors of "South of Forgiveness," a unique collaboration between a survivor and perpetrator of rape.
Why you should listen
Thordis Elva is a firm believer in the healing potential of dialogue when it comes to ending the silence that shrouds sexual violence. In 2015, she was voted Woman of the Year in her native Iceland due to her tireless campaigning for gender equality.
As an award-winning writer, journalist and public speaker, Elva has utilized many different platforms for her activism, including plays, films and books. Her passion for equality extends to the internet, and she has toured extensively giving lectures about online bullying, non-consensual pornography and digital human rights to audiences such as the United Nations and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Thordis Elva | Speaker | TED.com
Tom Stranger - Co-author, landscape gardener
Tom Stranger is the co-author "South of Forgiveness."
Why you should listen
Social sciences and the outdoors have been both professional directions and personal themes for Tom Stranger. After studying social science and working in outdoor recreation, Tom Stranger's focus shifted towards working with young people with complex needs -- mental health challenges, substance addiction, homelessness and neurological impairment. His time working with young people has taught him the immense value of listening with intent.
Stranger has recently completed and thoroughly enjoyed a Master of Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, and he has returned to work in the outdoors as a landscaper. During his studies, he was involved as a co-author in the writing of South of Forgiveness. He and the book's primary author, Thordis Elva, share the hope that in speaking up they will add their voices to the ever-growing public discourse around relations of gender and sexual violence.
Tom Stranger | Speaker | TED.com