Version 2

Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

South of Forgiveness

FoI at Waterstones/
Mon 13 March 2017

Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

South of Forgiveness

Version 2
Mon 13 March 2017,

Could you forgive the unthinkable? Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger were teenage sweethearts until Tom abused Thordis’ trust and raped her.

Nine years of silence followed by eight years of exchanging hundreds of searingly honest emails led to the two meeting in South Africa to reconcile their past, face to face.

Often rape is talked about as something abstract, but Thordis and Tom have chosen to make it personal and public. South of Forgiveness is a collaboration between a survivor and a perpetrator, each equally committed to exploring the darkest moment of their lives. A true story about being bent but not broken, of facing fear with courage, and of finding hope even in the most wounded of places.

This discussion includes topics that some attendees may find confronting. Audience questions from this event will not be recorded and published.

Following questions raised on social media we can confirm that no fees for speaking will be paid to anyone for the event.

A statement from the publisher of South of Forgiveness, Scribe:

Scribe believes in the right of Thordis and Tom to write and publish their story, and to discuss its implications, its difficulties and its consequences in public.

Thordis and Tom are very clear that their story is only theirs; they in no way wish to present their lives as typical or to prescribe any recommended response to rape. Nor do they wish to cause renewed pain in those who have suffered. Others will have their own experience of rape and its aftermath, and as Thordis says: ‘Nobody has the right to tell anyone else how to handle their deepest pain.’

However, it is the authors’ contention, and Scribe’s, that Tom’s voice can contribute to our understanding of why sexual violence occurs. It can shed light on how some seemingly ordinary men can become perpetrators, and how society breeds and even sometimes condones the attitudes that lead them to rape. To learn about this is in no way to excuse it.

Tom Stranger is a perpetrator of rape. He has acknowledged as much publicly, and seeks to avoid inappropriate praise for his admission of guilt. He believes taking responsibility for committing any form of sexual violence should be viewed as essential rather than praise-worthy, whilst going to lengths to avoid suggesting that perpetrators should make contact with any individuals they have subjected to sexual violence. As the primary author of South of Forgiveness, the large majority of all royalties will go to Thordis. Tom will be donating any profits he receives to a women’s shelter in Reykjavik. Tom will not profit from his involvement in South of Forgiveness.

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