Warning: this post addresses the topic of sexual assault. It is not described in graphic detail, however, please proceed with caution if that subject is in any way a trigger for you. Also, if I’m honest, this post was NOT purposely lined up with the current volatile political climate regarding women’s rights. But here it lands and I am a bit nervous to post this. This is not a political statement, nor is it an attempt to take sides in any of these hostile debates. I hope that my heart and vulnerability in the midst of one of the darkest moments of my life is relatable, honest, and appreciated. I only ask that you would NOT take the opportunity of hearing my story and use it as ammunition.
One night, in the midst of some of the darkest years of my life, I was hanging out with some random guys at one of the local popular venues when one of them took an interest in me. My intrigue was based solely on the fact that he was older and cool and had tattoos all the way up his neck. I went back with him and his friends to his house and we drank. Not a recipe for a good situation to begin with.
What happened next still sickens me to this day. I don’t want to give details or relive the horrific night, but once again, I was caught in a situation with a man that I didn’t want to be in and I was taken advantage of. He didn’t injure me, but he did force himself sexually on me and once again, I found myself the victim of something that I had not consented to, nor had I wanted.
He reluctantly stopped when I finally mustered up the courage to ask him to do so, but he hadn’t even asked before he started. By the time I stood up for myself, it was too late. He hadn’t asked before he did exactly what he wanted with my body. But, again, I found myself making excuses for him. I started saying to myself, “I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation, I shouldn’t have gone home with him, I shouldn’t have partied with him, I shouldn’t have kissed him….I shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t have…..”.
But what about he shouldn’t have?
As I trudged back to my home that night, I vividly remember wondering, “What if I get pregnant from this? What happens if this is how it happens for me?” And as much as I hate to admit this, my first thought was, “I can always get an abortion. I mean, if there ever was a valid excuse to terminate a pregnancy, surely it was this kind of situation!”
It’s true. It crossed my mind. Being the victim became the justification for this consideration. But my second thought- my second thought was different. It was:
“Does one awful deed merit another awful deed? Is the right choice to use my victimization as a justification of another victimization? Of someone who has no voice? Who can’t say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘please’?” Staring in the mirror, I had to ask myself through the tears:
“Would this child be a reminder of a terrible thing that happened to me or would this child be a reminder that something wonderful can be born out of something horrible? Is a child born from a tragic situation of any less value than one born out of love? Is a life only valuable if it’s a wanted life?”
I made my choice. I decided that to stare into the face of a living, breathing, miraculous thing that is a baby, would be a reminder that God can create beauty out of ugliness. In that moment of realization, I decided that my life could be that miracle too. I looked at my broken and weary reflection and internally begged for redemption. That my life would be that miraculous rebirth of beauty out of something really sad and ugly.
I didn’t get pregnant, thank God.
But I know that if I hadn’t been forced to consider what choice I would make, I would forever live in ignorance as to how desperate a woman must have to be in order to come to a place where she would end a life growing inside of her.
It made me more compassionate towards those women. It has made me more understanding and empathetic to the hurts that have brought them to that place.
To be clear- I stand strongly by the belief that to end any human life is morally wrong, but you will not find me picketing outside of Planned Parenthood and shaming women who are desperate.
Why? Just because I don’t agree with something does not give me the right to guilt and humiliate others who believe differently.
I have heard so many stories of so many women, some of them my dear friends, who made that heart-wrenching decision themselves and have suffered the severe emotional consequences. I have to ask myself this question: if abortion is something to be flippant about, if it’s really “only a mass of cells and tissue and is not yet a sentient being”, then why, just why have most of the women I know who have gone through with their termination suffered such turmoil after the fact?
Why have they felt such guilt and shame and a sense of loss and emptiness? Is it because this was not what God desired for us to do with the life growing inside of us? Is it because we (as a Christian community) have made them to feel extreme shame? Is it because we have wrongfully made this sin worse in our eyes and unforgivable?
Maybe it means nothing to some women and I can’t attest to that. Personally, I don’t see how someone could detach themselves from that experience. Perhaps it’s because in many cases, abortion can be considered an act of selfishness. I know it would have been so for me. “I don’t want the reminder of my past, I don’t want to be with that man, I don’t want to take care of a child, I don’t want my life to be ruined”…..all of those statements begin with the word “I”.
Never did I take into consideration the child first. I don’t believe I would have gone through with it. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have. The point is, that’s the first place my mind went. Why? Because it would have made life more difficult. I didn’t want a difficult life. I didn’t want my child to have a difficult life.
On another note, I thought, men ought to be held more accountable in the first place. If a man had as much to lose as a woman when he got someone pregnant, I like to hope that maybe he’d think twice before knocking her up. One of the many reasons women become so desperate for abortions in the first place is because it is her burden to physically carry, not the man’s. If men couldn’t simply walk away, I believe less women would feel as if termination was their only choice.
So what we have here is a heart issue. You can’t expect the change in a law to create a change in a heart. What you can do is listen, try to understand, try to treat people as people and help carry their burdens with them.
I’d like to think that if more women felt supported by a community when they found themselves trapped with an unwanted pregnancy, there would be less abortions.
I’d like to think if more men stepped up to take ownership and admitted their part in all of this, things could change.
I’d like to think if more families opened their homes up for adoption or financially assisted single mothers less fortunate than them, things could change.
But maybe I’m living in a dream world. Maybe horrible things happen and we aren’t strong enough to handle it, even if it means gaining a new, beautiful little soul. Maybe people just want to do whatever they want and when consequence rears its ugly head, they will take any means necessary to avoid that suffering.
Maybe people are inherently selfish and just don’t want to do hard things. Maybe it’s all of these things and we’re doomed.
These are the things that went through my head as I stood standing in front of that mirror. These are the things that I questioned and pondered and tearfully considered as I scolded myself for being so selfish to even think about taking an innocent life for my convenience. These are the things that I still struggle with, even today, when I hear about the “War on Women’s Rights”.
I don’t believe abortion is morally right, but I do believe that receiving healing from a desperate choice is possible. We as women need to be more forgiving to one another, just as God is forgiving to those of us who repent.
These are the things that so many women have been tormented by when the gravity of the situation they find themselves in seems utterly inescapable and terrifying. I found myself in that moment once and these are all of the thoughts that I had swimming around in my head.
I think the only words that I can vividly recall myself saying out loud were these:
“Please, God. Just don’t let the baby look like him.”