Sexual abuse victims: trigger alert.
Recently the news was ablaze of the travesty of justice for the Stanford swimmer (Brock Turner) who received a 6-month sentence for a brutal rape of an unconscious girl. She eloquently (and painfully) shared her story in a victim statement. Brock’s father lamented that his life was forever altered because of “20 minutes of action.”
I thought about his words for a long time. And I ached because of them. 20 minutes can alter a life forever. It takes even less time to choke a person to death, which, of course would completely change the victim’s life, since death would end it. To reduce a rape of an unconscious girl to the ticks of a clock mortified me. So since his blatant disregard for humanity was only 20 minutes long, does that excuse what he did?
All I can say is that the first 20 minutes of action perpetrated against me forever changed the course of my life.
Two teenage boys knocked on the babysitter’s door. Asked her if five-year-old me could come out and play. (In retrospect, I wonder if Eva the chainsmoking babysitter was part of a rudimentary sex-trafficking ring. And why did those boys already know my name when I had no idea who they were?)
Eva said yes and pushed me out the door.
In the woods, in a ravine below a walking path, these brothers stripped off my pants then quickly violated me. Must’ve taken less than 20 minutes the more I think about it.
Every day, they came.
Every day, Eva said yes.
Every day, I died inside. In that way, rape felt like murder, and I became terrified. Broken. Hurting. Bruised. Stolen from.
As I mentioned in this post, after I read the victim letter, I went on yet another Google journey, trying to find those boys. (If you’d like to read the letter I wrote them, click here). I came up empty again. While I know the Statute of Limitations in my home state have long run out, I still worry that those boys became men who preyed, and I feel awful that somehow I couldn’t stop what they did to me, and then to others. I pray they didn’t. I pray I’m the only one. But if statistics play out, they most likely continued to offend.
Then when I read the callous words of the father of the rapist, I did some calculations.
Since I didn’t keep a diary at five years old, I am relying on my memory for this. They raped me nearly every day after school. They told me they’d kill my parents if I told, so I kept quiet. But when others started joining in, something in me shifted, and I decided to tell Eva. She told me that she told my mom, but never did. So when the boys returned, and Eva let me go, I knew this sad truth:
No one in the world would ever protect me.
I had to protect myself.
Those first 20 minutes turned into hundreds of minutes, thousands of minutes. And the only way little me could stop it wasn’t by telling (that didn’t work), but by taking things into my own hands and sleeping minutes upon minutes.
Sometime toward the end of the year, my sleeping saved me from the two predators (and their friends who eventually joined them in the “action.”
So I’m guessing they probably violated me at least 100 days. Times that by 20 minutes of action, and you have 2000 minutes of action. That’s 33.33 hours of sexual abuse, give or take. Truth be told, it most likely was another 2000 minutes more.
To say I’ve struggled in the aftermath of such sexual violence is an understatement. But I suffer afresh when insensitive people excuse predators with ridiculous words like “20 minutes of action.”
Maybe we should just replace that with “20 minutes of murder” because rape feels like murder. Murder of trust. Murder of dreams. Murder of peace of mind. Murder of fearlessness.
I’m grateful for healing. I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to write about that journey. But even though I’ve experienced profound healing, I still trigger. I still get fiery angry. These days it comes from people’s ignorance about rape, its effects, and how much victim blaming is perpetrated. (By the way, since I was five years old when it happened, I did no coercion. I didn’t drink. My corduroy dress was not revealing in any way. The teen boys raped me because they were rapists.)
We need to come to a place as a society that stands up for those who were violated. Who listen to stories and believe them. Who prosecute rapists and give them the penalties due their crimes against our humanity. Who dignify victims and give them a safe place. Who provide healing institutions and communities.
The time of blaming the victim should be over. The time of excusing the poor rapists–because they were drunk (and so were their victims) so it’s just a drinking problem not a crime–should cease. The time of empathy for predators and scrutiny of victims should reverse. We desperately need a re-story here.
Why? Because 2000 minutes of action (and 20 minutes of action) is inexcusable. Rape is a heinous crime. And it should be viewed and prosecuted as such.
(I don’t think I’ll ever know what happened to those brothers. Part of me still wants to know.)
As soon as you tagged me in the comment on your page, letting me know you put this up, i read it, and then spent the day soaking in your reply. I then came back today to reply, but took down my last name and pic because this is such a sensitive topic for me right now.
even though i am usually vocal about this kind of stuff, the whole story has hit me hard. the victim blaming has taken it’s toll on me the last couple days. you say it clearly when you said “Maybe we should just replace that with “20 minutes of murder” because
rape feels like murder. Murder of trust. Murder of dreams. Murder of
peace of mind. Murder of fearlessness”
thank you for speaking about this. As soon as I heard about it, i was wondering what your reply would be. I just heard about the whole case on Wed.
I stand with you, Gina. I’m so sorry so many of us have this story. And it angers me to no end that so few make a stand, and when they do, the world crushes them.
Thank you for what you shared, Mary! I’m so sorry that you had to go through experiences like that. What you have said about it is so true and i hope and pray that people can start realizing how serious this type of thing is.
I also hope and pray that Brock Turner’s victim will find hope and healing.
I pray that too, Kirsten. She has a difficult story.
Powerful. My heart breaks when I think of five year old Mary. This whole news story Brock Turner situation is an outrage. Your words are impactful and need to be shared. They change lives for His glory, I’m sure of that. Prayers for those who read them, that they will meet Jesus as you have. We live in a world of what’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right, and even if not considered right, acceptable. Well that is unacceptable. Lusts of the world are running rampant and either getting worse or becoming more exposed. Probably the latter since what’s done in the dark will be brought to light as God says, and nothing new under the sun, including sin. Thankful God is still in control, something beautiful in all the ugly. Thank you for being a voice loud and clear for victims and justice!
Yes, I am grateful God is in control, but I also have this aching longing for justice to be served. I don’t feel it was in this case.
I had a feeling these events would flood you with a river of feelings again. I’m so glad people are having conversations…ANGRY conversations about this. It’s time we all got angry. It’s the only way to get the attention for the pain it creates. For those of us who have not been victims, speaking out is something we have to do. And while victims start healing, us non-victims need to express anger about this injustice that happens daily.
The whole ‘boys will be boys’ concept has only helped to lift up boys while diminishing everyone else. I keep thinking…how in the world did our society EVER think this was okay…yet it has…
I’m so sorry for all the pain you’ve endured. Praying for you and others like you who are dealing with something many of us will never be able to imagine.
Thank you so much. It’s not pain for me as much as it is anger over how some have reacted. I am grateful, though, that the tide seems to be shifting. Enough people are starting to get really mad.
“Lord, come quickly.” I grieve for the thousands of kidnapped girls being tortured and raped by heartless terrorists; of girls and women trapped in sex trafficking; and women with stories like yours. We need strong judicial action, but I fear that the only real solution is the return of Jesus to stop this obscene epidemic and to comfort the millions of victims.
I can certainly understand your anger. I have been there, I even live with PTSD. I hope this is accepted in the love in which it is truly intended.
I had been molested from age 5-31 until I finally left “home”. It would be almost 12 years since I spoke to this man. I just called him the other day (He is in the nursing Home with the beginning s of Dementia) and told him I forgive him and that I love him. He wept. I cried but they were tears of joy and peace. The first real time in the last 12 years I had even truly been happy , joyful, and laughing sincerely.
–> All because I read the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10 in context and with learning about the history and the culture of that time. You see the Jews and the Samaritans were mortal enemies — The Jews wanted to kill the Samaritans because they thought the Samaritans were less than themselves–> yet this Samaritan had only love, compassion and mercy upon his wounded enemy. He used his most expensive oils and bandages that were to cover his own trip on this treacherous road to treat the man’s wounds, stayed overnight caring for the Jew at the inn and the next morning paid for whatever the Jew might need and told the owner if more was spent on this Jew he would make it up the next time he came through. This can only come from truly knowing Christ in a deep personal relationship. This is exactly as God would have us to do. This is what Jesus called loving the unlovely. Just like Jesus did for us on the Cross while we were yet sinners.
I was also raped and had a child as a result. I chose to save her life as the rape was not her fault. She was the innocent party. But I was forced to give her up beyond my will when she was just 4 months old (as well as the son age 2 1/2 I had in a later abusive marriage). She was told lie after lie about me (As was he) and now says she will be happy when I am dead. I may have had Cancer for the past 2 years and I have just been discovered to have lumps in between my rib bones and around my right side that are very painful. Before I was forced to give up my children I had dedicated each of them to the Lord and 24 years later I still trust them to His care since He can love them so much better than I ever could. I almost killed myself just weeping over their loss year after year. Now I have so many Chronic Illnesses and Pain because of the trauma and the tears I have cried over the years.
Forgiveness is not just for the other person(s) but also for yourself to guard against carrying a burden that is not yours to carry and against the root of bitterness and resentment taking hold of your heart and mind. Yes, this man admitted his wrongdoing with great remorse. I will not say who this man is as I have forgiven him and I choose to bear his cross by not mentioning this sin against him ever again. It is now between him and God. It is written that if we do not forgive others then our Father in Heaven will not forgive us. Our enemies are not the men and boys who commit these atrocious acts but the main source of darkness behind them, the Ruler of this decaying , sin-sick world Satan and his demons. I choose not to live as a Victim but rather in Victory with Jesus leading the way. I do my battle on my knees with the Word of God. God has said to Bless those who hurt you. This is what I have chosen to do and I can honestly tell you that my soul and body feel so much lighter. Just because I chose to Forgive, pray for and bless my attackers. This is not to say I am a perfect Christian because I am not but I choose to live for my Saviour no matter the cost.
When I look back on those times I see God’s Protection and Provision. I could have easily been killed — but I was not. I was allowed to live. I see that everything I have gone through has made me more like Christ. It has shown me my weaknesses and my strengths. But sometimes our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness. Sometimes God adds to our lives and other times he takes away– but at all times — it is because He is a Good Father.
Beautiful, sad story. I’m grateful you came to a point of forgiving him, and wow you were brave to call!!!
At “sweet 16” a less than 20 minute stealing of my dignity, self respect, and virginity by my guidance counselor’s husband. My life was forever changed. New levels, soul depths, of shame, voicelessness, alienation, fear, despair, grief, depression, disassociation, self-hate, self-contempt, mistrust, self-doubt, hate, bitterness, loneliness, confusion of pain and pleasure, confusion and chaos of truth and reality. “A little action” changed me forever. I often wonder if this day changed him. Did it change him to confess the names of the other girls as he stole from me? Did it change him when he bragged to other’s his “lure to virgins”? Did my letter stir some sort of remorse? Has he suffered any pains of guilt or fear? Has he had any days of darkness? Changed. Less than 20 minutes and I was forever changed.
Thank you Jesus for changing me still. In the face of evil, thank you Lord for redemption.
Such a sad but beautiful (eventually through Jesus) story. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Sometimes I have the same questions you do. Do perpetrators have remorse???
This is all so painful. I’m very grateful you continue to share your voice, call out injustice, speak against shame. This culture is a tide than needs turning.
This: “This culture is a tide that needs turning” is spot on. Oh how I appreciate your turns of phrase. And your heart.
Thank you again for your words. Silence is complicity and it seems the silence has almost been deafening. He may have well just said” just get over it”( which I’ve heard many times).We need more voices out there speaking for the survivors who are too hurt and afraid to speak out. My abuser is still out there. I saw him on a video clip about gun control. He is from Sandy Hook, CT where I’m originally from. He was against guns.He was standing near the school when it was still there. He also abused his sister. She committed suicide. The police declared him a ” good boy”. Maybe they should have added his sports qualifications to child predator.I’m so glad for your testimony. Please don’t ever stop speaking for us. We need you!
Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, Barb. What a painful story. I’m also glad to know I’m not the only one who looks for her predator(s).
Mary, you are so brave to speak of the deep pain and evil done against you. My heart aches over that precious little one – you – having no protection and feeling so alone and afraid. You were worth so much more than that. The door should never have even been opened to those monsters. Never.
I’m proud and grateful for your willingness now to advocate for the protection of others, refusing to open that door to ANY.MORE.MONSTERS.
You are beloved and a great delight to Jesus… and I am grateful to read your story today…
Amy, wow, thank you. My heart aches, but my mind is angry about predators. And they take on many forms. What’s scary is that often they don’t appear to be predators…
exactly. Jesus, we need you…
Father, forgive us. Even when we know what we do. Even when it causes boundless pain. And yes, oh yes. Let’s stop adding to the hurt of those who have already suffered the unspeakable. P.S. I ache for your suffering. But I applaud you for speaking out. You are my hero.
Good prayer, and kind words, thanks Marti.
Praying for you, me, others. Heavy hearted at this evil. Grateful for Heaven where it will end. I’ve felt triggered, moody, & eating terrible food since I posted my story. That’s just it about sexual abuse/rape; it stays. The lifetime sentence seems to be on us. Jesus have mercy on us. Love you friend.
Yes, Jesus have mercy.