A woman who was raped, and the man who raped her, have appeared on stage together to deliver a TED talk recounting the incident.

Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger met in 1996, when Mr Stranger was visiting Ms Elva's native Iceland on an exchange trip from Australia. He was 18 at the time, two years older than Ms Elva, and they dated for a few weeks.

Following a school dance, at which Ms Elva drank rum for the first time, Mr Stranger took her home and put her to bed.
Then, as she says in the talk,'
 "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," she continues. "I thought I'd been 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."

 Mr Stranger tells the audience:
"I have vague memories of the next day. The after effects of drinking, a certain hollowness that I tried to stifle. Nothing more.
"But I didn't show up at Thordis's door. It is important to now state that I didn't see my deed for what it was"To be honest, I repudiated the entire act in the days afterwards and when I was committing it. 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 couple split up shortly afterwards, and Mr Stranger returned to Australia. And then, after nine years with no contact, Ms Elva contacted Mr Stranger by letter, confronting him about his actions.

"I want to find forgiveness," she wrote, having realised "that this was my way out of my suffering.
"Regardless of whether he deserved my forgiveness, I deserved peace.
They entered into regular correspondence, and finally agreed to meet up - resulting in cathartic discussion of the incident that had cast a shadow over Ms Elva's life. 

Ms Elva and Mr Stranger would go on to write a book together discussing the rape and reconciliation, South of Forgiveness, which will be released next month.

Daily Telegraph

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