Saturday 23 September 2017

Woman defends choice to write book with the man who raped her

Writer Thordis Elva defends her forgiveness of rapist - while Tom Stranger clarifies he is not seeking to make profit from book

Thordis Elva speaks on stage at TED Talks
Thordis Elva speaks on stage at TED Talks
Thordis Elva appears on stage at TED Talks with her rapist and former boyfriend Tom Stranger
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An author has defended her choice to write a book with the man who raped her when she was 16 years old.

Icelandic writer and advocate Thordis Elva wrote the book about the attack by her former boyfriend and their 20-year process of reconciliation.

Elva details about how she was drunk at a Christmas school dance when her boyfriend brought her home and raped her.

Australian Tom Stranger was aged 18 and was an exchange student at the school.

He has since said that he felt entitled to have sex with Elva, despite her being so drunk that people at the dance had suggested he call an ambulance.

He also said he did not realise it was rape until he was contacted by Elva nine years later.

Elva has now defended her forgiveness of her rapist and Stranger has clarified he is not seeking to make a profit from the book.

Speaking on ABC's Q&A, Elva said she first wrote to Stranger to "state her case".

Thordis Elva appears on stage at TED Talks with her rapist and former boyfriend Tom Stranger
Thordis Elva appears on stage at TED Talks with her rapist and former boyfriend Tom Stranger

"I just needed to state my case," Elva said, who has also spoken on stage at TED Talks about the attack.

"It is not about applauding the rapists ... It is about a rapist giving voice to the immeasurable hurt that he caused."

Meanwhile, speaking to Hack, Stranger said any profits he makes will be going to charity.

"I don't seek to profit from this," he said.

"Any profits that I receive will be going towards a selected charity.

"I realise how disrespectful and contemptuous it would be for me to benefit my bank balance or anything else."

Elva and Stranger, who are now in separate relationships, said they decided to co-write the book to help people better understand sexual violence.

Elva also said writing the book became helpful to "unburden" herself of "hatred and anger".

Stranger added; "I'm not putting myself out as a spokesman or a representative of rape, nor am I representative at men at large, but I think there can be benefit for putting our story out there."

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