This is one of a series of powerful stories from survivors of rape, you will find them all here.
I was raped during my freshman year of college.
It was not the first time I had been sexually assaulted, and I was just beginning to heal from the prior assault when it happened. To add to the burden, I got pregnant.
I reported my rape to the college and was forced to go to “mediation” with my assaulters. The college-appointed therapist sent me to a “crisis pregnancy center,” rather than Planned Parenthood. The center tried every tactic to get me to keep the child that I could not bear to have. They even argued that since the father (my rapist!) was also white, people would hurry to adopt my white baby. It was bizarre, obviously racist, and deeply traumatizing.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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I miscarried before actually having the abortion I had scheduled back home in Maryland, with the help and support of my family. After the trauma at my school with “mediation,” I dropped many of my classes and switched schools.
The thing about my experience is that it was not an isolated incident. It was not the first time the system failed me personally, and it wasn’t the last. Being friends with and working in support groups with other survivors, I hear stories like mine all the time: college cover-ups and crisis pregnancy centers who specifically target women living in poverty.
This has been my experience with the pro-life movement and with an institutional system that continually fails rape survivors.
The fact that flailing lawmakers such as Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, and by extension Mitt Romney—who continues to endorse Mourdock and has kept Ryan as his running mate—seek to hold onto or increase their legislative power despite their failings is part of this landscape of institutional failure, too.
These are men who fundamentally believe in their own rhetoric over freedom of choice, human empathy, and support. Men who would further victimize someone who has suffered a terrible trauma than offer that person a choice they don’t agree with.
This was what I got from the system I had to deal with as a teenager, alone and terrified, far from home—a system that had a pro-life agenda but that did not care at all about MY life, which I seriously thought about ending many times because I was in so much pain.
When survivors come forward, we need support. Many of us need support in ORDER to come forward. We need to be listened to. We need to be trusted to make the choices that are right for us. We need space to heal.
We do not need to hear judgment, that what happened to us was our fault, that a theoretical life is more important than our own lives.
Consider how you would feel if you had been in my shoes: isolated after a violent attack, still a child in many ways, faced with carrying my rapist’s child to term instead of starting the young adult life I hoped for. Whether one chooses to carry on with a pregnancy or not, we need safe and fair access to all options so that we can make our own choices, rather than continual, intimidating, and terrifying pressure in one direction.
Our voices and our stories need to be part of this debate, because we KNOW what it feels like. Mourdock, Akin, Ryan, Romney: they have never had to face these circumstances, yet they seek to legislate on our behalf. They would be well served to listen to us.