Every 98 seconds, another person experiences sexual assault. Harvey Weinstein was just exposed as a sexual predator, which sparked an outpouring of stories in the #MeToo campaign. A recent article pointed out that often those that support abortion start with the extreme case, then argue that the solution for the extreme should be the norm.
While my thoughts are many, and there are certainly many scenarios that can be invented, sometimes the easiest thing is to simply tell your story.
Image you just married the man of your dreams and are looking forward to a bright future with him. Life has been hard, but you think you’ve turned a corner. He joins the military, and you couldn’t be more proud. What you didn’t anticipate was how hard the deployments and loneliness were going to be. He’s home enough that you have two kids in three years, but otherwise he is gone most months. By the time his enlistment is up, your marriage is in shambles. You’ve both had to be independent to survive, and yet that very survival has broken your union.
After a divorce you move on. After all, you have two precious kids to raise. But that’s hard too. Being a single mom and working just to keep the bills paid and food on the table, you never have much time for friends or building relationships.
Fast forward a few years and you’re actually doing well. Not the American dream, but you’re making it. The kids are getting older (16 and 13) and can take care of themselves for the most part. You are still waiting tables to fill their stomachs, but things could be worse.
The kids are on summer break and spending the night with friends, so you pull an extra shift at work. It’s late and after all the customers have left you still have to bus the tables and clean up, making it well past 11:00pm when you finally leave. Slipping into the back alleyway and locking the door behind you, you toss the trash in the dumpster and are a few feet from the parking lot when he grabs you.
You resist, but with a man so tall and strong, there isn’t anything you can do. It doesn’t take long but feels like an eternity. He finally discards you and you make it to your car and the safety of home. You’re glad your teens are gone for the night, since it gives you time to recover from a trauma you wish you could forget.
And forget you try to do. It seems to be working until two months later you realize you’re late. Very late. And then it hits. That trauma has a lasting result. You try to hide it from your kids by not eating much, and gain less than 15 pounds in the next 7 months.
You don’t have anyone to talk to, because with your parents died in a homicide/suicide and siblings who view you as more of a parent than a friend, who else is really left?
You know you can’t raise another child. It was hard enough with two in school, but how can a single mom work while trying to raise an infant? Impossible! Imagine how desperate and lost and alone you must feel. What are the alternatives? Keeping the baby isn’t feasible, but your Catholic upbringing reminds you that life begins at conception, and to abort the baby is wrong.
The pressure is strong though. While abortion isn’t what you want, what else can you do? What are your options?
Let’s drift from imagination to reality.
You see, the story above isn’t a fabrication for at least one woman I know, and probably rings true for thousands of others as it painfully reminds them of their own experience with rape.
Let me strongly and unequivocally state that rape is wrong. It can happen in almost any location: the park, a home, the workplace, in daylight, or at midnight; and be carried out by almost any level of relationship: by a boyfriend, an acquaintance, or a total stranger.
In all situations, attire, or circumstances, no matter the wisdom of the choices leading up to those, rape is wrong and the rapist is always 100% responsible.
The reason rape is so wrong is because it is the exertion of one person’s will while ignoring the will of the other. It is making the convenient choice for one without concern for the convenience of the other. It is one looking out for their own needs without regard for the pain of the other. It is accomplished because one is stronger than the other.
Instead of the stronger protecting the weaker, they are abusing their strength. Instead of those with a platform protecting the quiet, they muffle them, making them voiceless. Instead of being treated as a person with inalienable rights, they are abused as an object to be tossed aside without regard. It is a violent act that violates the most personal space of the life they disregard. It is stealing their dignity in a way that can never be fully restored.
Unfortunately, for those where rape ends in pregnancy, society tells them the best way to forget is to terminate the pregnancy. And yet, they are passing on the violence that was done to them. It is the exertion of one person’s will while ignoring the will of the other. It is making the convenient choice for one without concern for the convenience of the other. It is one looking out for their own needs without regard for the pain of the other.
It is accomplished because one is stronger than the other. Instead of the stronger protecting the weaker, they are abusing their strength. Instead of those with a platform protecting the quiet, they muffle them, making them voiceless. Instead of being treated as a person with inalienable rights, they are abused as an object to be tossed aside without regard. It is a violent act that violates the most personal space of the life they disregard.
While the initial act of rape violated the woman by stealing her dignity, abortion takes a life, who never got a chance to breath.
You may ask what right I have to speak on this subject. Have I ever perpetrated this type of crime? No. Have I ever been a victim of rape? I have been spared from that. However, those are not the only people affected. Sometimes a child is conceived and that child is no less worthy of being born, of being taken care of, of being loved because of the nature of his or her conception than any other child. That child will be no less lovable, no less intelligent, and no less a valuable member of society.
That is how I fit into the story. That child is me. I was given a voice, and hope to be the mouth of the voiceless; to cry out for them when their shouts cannot be heard.
What are the options in the case of rape?
Really there are three: abortion, raising the child yourself, or adoption. My mother didn’t choose to conceive me but she did choose to birth me. She chose not to raise me, but gave me the perfect forever family.
She didn’t see my first steps, but she allowed me to walk.
She didn’t hear my first words, but she gave me a voice.
She may not have taught me to read, but she enabled me to get an education.
She may not have told anyone about me, but I will tell everyone about her.
About her bravery. About her sacrifice. About her choice for life. You see, an inexplicable wrong was done to her, something I’m sure she would rather just forget. Yet rather than pass on violence, she chose to birth beauty from the pain, life from violence, and hope from terror.
She may have been overpowered, but she chose to empower.
So my challenge today: no matter the circumstances surrounding a child’s conception, that child is always worth fighting for. Your abuser only wanted to harm, but you don’t have to pass on that harm. You can turn hate into love. You can turn horror into happiness. You can permit something lovely to be born from the pain. And while raising the child may not be an option, birthing it always should be.
Give that child a chance at life. You will never regret it. Life is precious. Adoption is a gift. Hope is out there. You don’t have to walk this road alone.
This article was shared with us via our My Story page and was written by Stephanie Reynolds.