He said the character, who at some point is kidnapped by savages and subjected to beatings and an attempted rape, will force the character to grow and will encourage players to "protect her".
"She is literally turned into a cornered animal," he told Kotaku. "It's a huge step in her evolution: she's forced to either fight back or die."
Discussing why it's difficult to develop a female lead, Rosenberg said: "When people play Lara, they don't really project themselves into the character.
"They're more like. 'I want to protect her'. There's this sort of dynamic of, 'I'm going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her'.
"She's definitely the hero but - you're kind of like her helper. When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character."
Rosenberg added: "The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualised version of yesteryear. She literally goes from zero to hero... we're sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again."
Announced in late 2010, Tomb Raider will be an origin story for Lara Croft that sees her stranded and attempting to survive on a Pacific island.
As well as action cutscenes and open-world elements, Lara's abilities improve over time, providing her with new tools, gear and athletic prowess.
It was revealed at E3 2012 that the Xbox 360 version will receive timed exclusive DLC.
Tomb Raider will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in early 2013.
> Read our E3 2011 preview of Tomb Raider
Watch the E3 Tomb Raider trailer below: