Rape victim meets attacker in prison to forgive him (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Katja Rosenberg was attacked and raped by a 16-year-old in 2006
A rape victim who met her attacker in prison to tell him she had forgiven him has said she believes his actions show there is something wrong with society, rather than the individual.
Katja Rosenberg, a designer and artist who lives in Walthamstow, was raped by the 16-year-old in Coppermill Lane in 2006 while cycling home from an after-work drink.
The 40-year-old today insisted her actions were “not outstanding”.
“I think all I was expressing is that nothing has to stand between two human beings,” she said.
“For some reason I somehow knew where to put it in my heart straight away and I wanted to express that to him.
“He was very young at the time and I felt compassion for him, which seems weird but it’s just how it was.
“I am a completely normal human being and I don’t always feel that compassionate and I don’t always deal with everything that well, but in this case I did.”
She feels many people have empathised with her choice and the idea of restorative justice.
“I can see that I touched a lot of people with it and that’s exactly why I’m doing it,” she said.
“I helped to inspire some kind of thought about the situation and from the strong response I seem to have done something which people have maybe been waiting to hear.”
Ms Rosenburg added that she believed her attacker’s actions reflect the fact that something is wrong with society.
The teenager was jailed for 14 years after admitting to raping Ms Rosenberg and another 51-year-old woman.
“When someone does something like this people think that person’s for the bin,” she said.
“But obviously anger and frustration and sadness in people who do it mean something in society’s not working.”
She said a “fantastic, respectful and deep-feeling” group of people from the Probation Service helped her visit the man in prison.
Ms Rosenburg does not want his identity to be revealed, so he has a chance to build a new life, and has an agreement not to talk in detail about what was discussed at the meeting.
She said the meeting was “respectful both ways” and he wanted to ask for forgiveness from the start.
“Restorative justice is becoming more prevalent and I want to develop it in people’s minds as an option,” Ms Rosenburg added.
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