Episode 235: Thordis and Tom

***The following episode deals with issues of sexual violence.***

Over twenty years ago, Thordis Elva of Iceland shared a teenage romance with Tom Stranger, an exchange student visiting from Australia. After a school dance in 1996, when she was 16 and he was 18, he raped her. After parting ways and independently examining their own feelings and responses to the traumatic event, Thordis got in touch with Tom. The two would go on to correspond for years and later meet in South Africa to navigate the pain surrounding Tom’s actions together. In October 2016, they recorded a controversial joint TED Talk exploring this journey. This week, we’re joined by Nari Malkhasyan to discuss the talk and its implications regarding shame, trauma and humanity. As we felt the original talk pursued, we hope we also touch on the uncomfortable nuance and difficult questions in our conversation. Lastly, like any episode, this conversation is about reflection and inquiry, not conclusion and declaration. What we discuss may clash with your perspectives and similarly, what Thordis and Tom explored (and acknowledged) is not a prescription for all survivors and perpetrators.

Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger