What '20 Minutes Of Action' Means To An Abuse Survivor

by Audrey Hayworth
Originally Published: 
brock turner
Audrey Hayworth

Today, Brock Turner will be released from jail after serving a three-month sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

His father, Dan Turner, said his son’s extremely lenient sentence “is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action” and gave more stomach-turning excuses in his court statement, which you can read here.

I read his dad’s statement, and my hands shook for two hours. Then, my whole body started to tremble. Twenty minutes of action. Twenty minutes of action. Twenty minutes of action.

I don’t even know where to begin with the levels of disgust I have for this. I do know, however, where to begin to describe what “20 minutes of action” steamrolled into my life.

This is what “20 minutes of action” looks like:

I refuse to take baths and have exclusively taken showers for the majority of my life. I hate getting into the pool.

Why? Because my abuser used to ejaculate on my hair after “20 minutes of action” and then would stick me in the pool or the bathtub and gently clean his cum off. If someone saw a seemingly loving male relative with me in the pool, they were wrong. He was washing away the evidence of his disgusting behavior, knowing that if my 50-pound body fought back he would drown me, as he tried to the one time I fought him in the water.

Does this make you cringe? Does it make your stomach turn? It should. And yet I refuse to shut the hell up about it. I will keep talking about abuse because the only people who should be ashamed are my abusers and the people who were complicit in the situation.

My kids, like most children, love to get in the swimming pool. It takes all of my emotional energy to get in the pool with them, all of my emotional energy to watch them squeal with delight in a simple joy of childhood. In those moments, I feel like I am drowning even though my head is above water. It feels like I’m suffocating under the weight of those memories, like I breathe them into my lungs every time I wade into a swimming pool.

Twenty minutes of action has robbed me of 20 minutes a day when I weigh myself and mentally check my lifelong struggle with anorexia. Twenty minutes of action has cost me 20 minutes a day of joy with my kids because I worry daily about someone touching them and am suspicious of all of the people in their lives.

Twenty minutes of action steals 20 minutes a day I have to use a catheter on myself to empty my bladder, a byproduct of scar tissue from the abuse and weakened bladder muscle from anorexia. Twenty minutes of action causes 20 hours a year sitting in a doctor’s office dealing with the physical ramifications of those actions.

I wonder 20 minutes a day if I’m too damaged for my husband to love me. I worry 20 minutes a day if I am too damaged to parent in a way that doesn’t rob my children of the simple joys of childhood.

I am so damn sick and tired of no one giving a damn about the victims and only caring about the future of the abusers. If this is you — take a damn seat. You are enabling future abusers and are complicit in their actions.

This is not a drinking culture — this is a culture where rapists know that even if they are outed and caught, the punishment is a slap on the wrist and the majority of people will care more about them than their victims.

As far as his very brave and courageous victim, whose victim statement needs to be read by everyone (read it here), I stand with you. Keep talking. Keep balking. Keep fighting.

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