20 minutes matter

I normally write about patient advocacy and living with a chronic illness, but today, I’m really moved to write about something that has been really troubling me the past few days.  There was a case in California involving a Swimmer who attended Stanford University who was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.  As I understand it, this isn’t a he said/she said because witnesses came across the attack in progress, broke it up, and called the cops on the man.  This man (now age 20) was found guilty of rape but was only sentenced to 6 months in jail and will likely get out in 3 months.  I find that completely appalling that a young woman could be raped while unconscious and her rapist gets a literal “slap on the hand”.  This convicted rapists father wrote a pleading letter to the judge for leniency.  I completely get where this father is coming from.  He is pleading for his son whom he loves.  He pleaded that his son should receive probation instead of jail time because (and I quote from the father’s letter printed in the Washington Post)   “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”  I must have read that sentence 20 times to try to process it.  A 20 minute rape that occurred during this young man’s 20 plus years of life is minimal enough to warrant probation over jail?  Immediately I wondered if Dad would feel the same if in fact his son had been raped for 20 minutes.  20 minutes of rape destroyed this young woman’s world.  20 minutes of rape can’t be erased even by a guilty verdict.  In 20 minutes I can read this fathers letter and lose my mind at how ambivalent he is towards the victim.

20 minutes has been rattling around in my brain for two days.  I tried to think of 20 things I can typically do in 20 minutes and I came up with the following:

  1. shower
  2. vaccuum
  3. clean the bathroom
  4. make dinner
  5. write a letter or email a friend
  6. take the dog for a walk
  7. call your parents
  8. boil and egg
  9. take a nap
  10. clean the litter box
  11. sew a button back on to a shirt
  12. eat lunch
  13. run a mile
  14. chat with a friend
  15. read
  16. exercise
  17. play with your kids
  18. meditate
  19. write a blog post
  20. iron clothes
 This is an innocuous list.  Obviously, rape is anything but innocuous.  It’s a serious and violent crime.  The unfortunate part of this case is that a judge deemed that 6 months in prison was an appropriate consequence.  That is unacceptable.  That is appalling.  That is just wrong.
As a patient advocate, I try to speak out for not only myself but for other #spoonies living the #chroniclife.  Now I want to advocate for a victim of a horrible crime.  I don’t know her but I can only imagine how she feels.  I want to honor this young woman by taking 20 minutes a day to do something positive for others or myself. 20 minutes a day to do something positive for a friend, family member, neighbor, stranger, or even for myself.  There is not way to erase the ugliness of a rape, but maybe if we can spread beauty through kindness and uplifting action, we can honor a young woman who simply deserved better.  We need to show that 20 minutes matter.  
Some will say I sound like a naive Pollyanna, but I hope that others will join me to try to pay it forward for the rest of June (if not longer).  I will tweet out things I will do for 20 minutes on twitter @lolabellaquin.  #20MinutesMatter  Join me.

3 thoughts on “20 minutes matter

Add yours

  1. I have seldom been so angry about this verdict. I really like that you wrote about it, congratulations for doing the best thing I have seen in a bit.

    and of course – (RABlog week is coming back in September)


  2. Diminishing the damage done to the victim of rape is atrocious. I can't compare this strong young woman's situation to that of a patient, but I do know what it is like to have others downplay the seriousness of a situation. She deserves to have the world stand behind her now.

    I would love to participate in RA blog week again in September!


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