Watch: What happens when a rape victim and her rapist get together to recall the horrific incident?

Watch: What happens when a rape victim and her rapist get together to recall the horrific incident?

Unlike what you'd expect, the TED talk addresses rape brilliantly and is anything but confrontational.

In what can easily be called the most unconventional TED talk in recent times, an Icelandic rape survivor and her Australian perpetrator came together on stage. Unlike what you might expect, it was not violent or abusive or aggressive at all. On the contrary, it was as smooth as possible but still enough to move anyone to tears. Thordis Elva and rapist Tom Stranger in this TED talk touch upon every aspect and present to us beautifully the sides of both the victim and the accused.

When Tom raped Thordis the two had been dating and Thordis explains how for that very reason it was exceedingly difficult for her to accept what had happened as rape. In Thordis’ own words, she was “raised in a world where girls get raped for a reason; there skirts are too short, smiles are too wide and breath smells of alcohol.” She goes on to tell us how she was guilty of all three. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?

Not just Thordis, Tom himself owns up when he says,
“I disavowed the truth by convincing myself it was sex and not rape. And this is a lie I’ve felt spine-bending guilt for.”

The night of the incident, Thordis was 16 and the two were out on their first dance together when she felt she should try rum for the first time and fell very sick shortly after. It was then that Tom lifted her up in his arms and carried her home to safety. Sounds much like the fairy tale we all dream of, right? It was until the point where Tom proceeded to take her clothes off and climb onto her.

In graphic detail, Thordis explains,

“But the gratitude that I felt towards him soon turned to horror as he proceeded to take off my clothes and get on top of me.My head had cleared up, but my body was still too weak to fight back, and the pain was blinding. I thought I’d be severed in two. In order to stay sane, I silently counted the seconds on my alarm clock. And ever since that night, I’ve known that there are 7,200 seconds in two hours.
Despite limping for days and crying for weeks, this incident didn’t fit my ideas about rape like I’d seen on TV.”

It was only nine years later that Thordis sent out a letter to Tom explaining how she felt about that night, and almost immediately wrote out in her head all the negative responses she was expecting. What she got back was Tom’s e-mail full of ‘disarming regret’ and this started a conversation that Thordis never thought could take place. Thordis tells us how her need to find forgiveness and peace led her to suggesting the two meet in person. After all, the only way to get over our fears is to face them.

Thordis touches every chord in every woman’s heart when she says she just wanted to know that the shame wasn’t hers and there was hope after rape. In no way do we mean to defend anyone who commits a rape, but the method this TED talk uses to address the issue of sexual violence all over the world tells us how things can change if both men and women come together to resolve this issue. Like Thordis herself says what they did is not a formula they are prescribing for everyone.

Let this unconventional confrontation between a rapist and his victim tell you what courage and hope can do.

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