South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility by Thordis Elva and Thomas Stranger
Updated: Feb 14
Summary: In the winter of 1996, Australian exchange student, Tom Stranger, raped his Icelandic girlfriend, Thordis Elva. After years of struggles, trust issues, and self-harm, they reconnect to have an honest conversation about the incident and try to find forgiveness.
*Trigger warning* This book features descriptions of sexual violence.
Review: I have been wanting to read this book ever since seeing Thordis and Tom's spectacular TedTalk. Their story of confrontation, honesty, and forgiveness is a unique and needed perspective on sexual violence. This book discusses the week they spent in South Africa trying to find understanding.
Their time spent together is a roller coaster of emotional disclosures, misunderstandings, laughter, and reconciliation. Thordis and Tom delve into the dismissed side of sexual violence; the humanity.
This book was the first story of rape that really spoke true to my personal experience. If we keep focusing on the offenders as "monsters" and victims as "damaged," we will never move toward ending violence. After forgiving my own rapists and working in the field of sexual violence prevention for over 7 years, South of Forgiveness is the first book that really gives realistic hope for moving forward.