So far, this summer has been nothing short of exhausting, what with all the negative and extremely triggering content on my feed. Rape apologists and MRA trolls are out in full throttle since Brock Turner was released from jail after serving a short 3 month sentence for his rape of an unconscious Stanford student.
His release brings back memories from the beginning of summer regarding the chronic downplaying of assault and violence against marginalized people from our society at large: the Orlando shooting, the scrutiny Amber Heard’s abuse allegations against Johnny Depp was met with, and, of course, Turner’s highly public and immensely frustrating trial.
Most vexing to me was the fact that Turner’s father came to his defense in a letter, pleading with the judge not to let “20 minutes of action” ruin his life and follow him for the rest of his days. Clearly, something about that messed up logic might have worked judging by the ridiculously short sentence Turner ultimately received.
[bctt tweet=”20 minutes can lead to lifelong pain.” username=”wearethetempest”]
The thing is, as any survivor knows, there is no such thing as just “20 minutes of action.” As if it’s like the 20 minutes it takes to walk the dog or do your makeup: insignificant and probably not so impactful on the course of your life.
Sure, I guess it’s possible for rapists to commit a heinous act and then move on as if nothing happened.
Good for them, I guess.
But as for those on the other side of the action – for survivors like me – 20 minutes can lead to lifelong pain.
My attacker assaulted me in a span of about 10 minutes, half the time that Brock Turner spent tormenting his own victim. And that moment felt like it went on for hours as I was crushed under the weight of my abuser’s forceful and violent insistence.
That moment was almost three years ago, and it’s still with me. It’s with me in the way that I walk alone at night and in the way that I dress, hoping I can manage to cover as much skin as possible for protection despite the dizzying heat. It’s with me in the way I still can’t trust my loving partner and my own body enough yet to be able to have vaginal penetrative sex. It’s in the way my heart races when I have to sit or stand close to a man I don’t know on the subway or in an elevator.
[bctt tweet=”I was assaulted and traumatized, period. And it only took 10 minutes.” username=”wearethetempest”]
After my assault, I couldn’t be intimate with another person for over a year. And when I met my partner (who turned out to be the love of my life) exactly a year after the attack, my body froze when they tried to introduce gentle and consensual touching. Love isn’t enough when the fear and violation of that day lives in your muscles and behind your eyelids, playing over and over again like a skipping DVD. I cried at the end of every love-making session with my partner, their concerned look following me after I ran to the bathroom to sob in private.
His words play in my mind over and over again, preventing me from ever relaxing, from ever quitting the way I always seem to be looking over my shoulder, running from men that look like him hot-faced and sweaty. It landed me into two years of therapy and energy healing and sex therapy techniques that have only begun to scratch the surface of my recovery.
It sometimes makes me see my attacker where my lover’s face should be, and cry out in the middle of the night because I thought he was holding me down. My attacker took control over my whole life, inducing anxiety at new and dizzying heights that cause me to be afraid of everything and everyone.
And I’m just beginning to get that control back.
I resent whoever (including Brock Turner’s father) dares to suggest that “20 minutes of action” can’t make a serious impact on a person’s life.
It only takes a few seconds to shoot and kill a person (or many people) with an automatic weapon, just like the Orlando shooter demonstrated. Lives were lost, mental states were ruined, families were torn apart. So it’s irresponsible and ignorant to assert that 10 or 20 minutes can’t make all the difference, can’t make a break a life, a relationship, or even the decision of whether or not someone chooses to stay alive.
[bctt tweet=”No matter what, the world is forever changed to me as a victim.” username=”wearethetempest”]
You can see what happened to me in the way my eyes dance nervously when you make eye contact with me, in the way I withdraw from social situations, in the way I cry over a trigger that may be invisible to some. And I’m getting better every day, fighting to gain back every piece of myself that was fragmented that day three years ago. Some pieces I may never be able to get back, but I know I will only gain more strength in my new perspective.
No matter what, the world is forever changed to me as a victim. Time, the passing of only a few minutes in a lifetime of millions of little moments, doesn’t make a difference.
I was assaulted and traumatized, period. And it only took 10 minutes.