I received a comment on my last post that I've opted not to publish, since it violated the aforementioned comment rule of respect in disagreement. However, there was one thing that the commenter said that has stuck out in my mind.
"How can you call yourself a survivor? If you really gave a damn, you'd understand that a raped woman has every right to terminate that spawn and move on with her life without a constant reminder of the f***er that raped her."
Always enlightening to be referred to as a "spawn"; I am imagining that the person writing that comes from a place of hurt, perhaps from a place of an assault that left her pregnant, and that, possibly, she had an abortion to get rid of the "spawn" she felt she was carrying. For me, I'm grateful every day that my biological mother's first abortion attempt failed and that she didn't try for one at a later gestation. But, that is beside the point.
I've been both molested and raped. Sexual assault leaves a mark on the survivor that never goes away. I consider myself a fairly whole person at this point, and even with that, as I've read more on the topic of sexual behavior and pregnancy as it relates to survivors of assault, I'm reminded of the marks I bear. And, at the same time, I have to remind myself of the ones I dont. For the longest time, I couldnt see a female doctor. Not because they are inferior (in fact, I love most of the ones I've encountered), but because I couldnt allow a woman to touch me intimately. I can see now that it was a response to a same-sex molester; but at the time, I never thought about the reasons why. I didnt even like female massage therapists! Again, too much, too close, too intimate. It wasn't until I built a relationship with a midwife through a friend that I found a place of trust in that most intimate area of my body, and felt that I could trust a woman with that trust. In time, I had female massage therapists and GPs. (although my first female GP was a response to not liking the male docs in that particular practice!). My current GP is a woman and, although I see Dr. B. (whose a man), Dr. L is a woman and I still see the aforementioned midwife. But it took time. Years. Over a decade. And the molester died long before, but I still had that...feeling I suppose, deep inside. And, it's something I'm still working through. Anyone whose been through a Pap or IF treatments (or even a routine gyno appt) knows the importance of "relaxing". That's one that I didnt work through until recently, male or female care provider.
I can say that, with the exception of building a healthy sexual relationship, which took time and trust, the flashbacks and repercussions of the rape dont seem as long lasting- until I look at my control-freak tendencies, split hair anger issues, and desire to see and look all my exit strategies. But, in that I didnt conceive a pregnancy, the commenter hits the nail that I dont know what it is like to look down and see a belly growing with the child of my attacker. I'm grateful for that.
But, looking back at my former self, I can still see that an abortion wouldnt have been my answer. It would have been a dual scenario of being raped again and of being the attacker. The baby in that scenario had no role in his/her conception... They wouldnt have been responsible for what brought them into being. They, like I was, would be having their choices taken from them, and would be the victim in an assault... An assault where the victim and now survivor is also the attacker. On top of that, I think that I would have felt like I was being raped again: a submissive, passive "patient" on whom a procedure of violence was being carried out. The scene itself, the hidden faces of the "doctors"/"attackers", the feelings of pain, the after effects- I dont know that an abortion after rape wouldnt have left me more scar, not less so. Estimations are in the range of 75% of raped mothers choosing not to abort, which leads me to ask if other survivors have similar feelings as mine?
As to raising the baby? I know that there are many women that do, and do so well and with love, seeing in their child the part of themselves that their child carries. It's beautiful. While I could do that today, as an adult, and with a supportive family, I know that the me of all those years ago would have placed her child for adoption. I was a teenager... And, although I think my family would have supported me however they could have, I dont think that I was emotionally stable enough to raise a child (both because of my young age- I was 14- but also because of my 'survivor recovery').
Do I think that it is anti-survivor to be anti-abortion in cases of rape or incest? No, I dont. If anything, I think that someone who pushes for an abortion after an assault, without taking into any account the true emotional toll it might take, is way more anti-survivor. As Leah mentioned in her comment to my previous post, abortion is a hard topic and one that, most likely, every single person in the world will not agree on. But, in saying that, this is my response to the question posed (rhetorical though it was most likely intended).
I can say honestly that, over 2 decades since any molestation and moving towards 2 decades since I was assaulted that many of the memories and the emotional pain have subsided. I know, however, that there are after effects that come up in the smallest of ways... Things that, until recently, I couldnt put on one particular thing and now, after thinking about it, realize they are lingering aftereffects.
Every action has a reaction, every choice a consequence. I try, these days, to acknoweldge the things I can't change and to make positive choices for the things I can. But there are days where that is a struggle. I'm lucky that I have Peter and a supportive network to help carry men when I cant walk, and to pick up the pieces when I fall apart.
* I highly recommend: When Survivors Give Birth (Simkin) if you are struggling through pregnancy after molestation or assault, whether it happened 9 months ago or 9 years ago or forever ago... It's an expensive book, but it is well worth it. I can tell you that reading it opened doors into myself that I didnt know existed, to the extent that Peter is now reading the book as well.
* Dont be ashamed to get help. Regardless of when the abuse happened, it's never too late to regain yourself. There are therapists who specialize in sexual trauma who can help you on your journey.
* Reach out. Groups like RAINN are there to help you get through the memories and find yourself on the other side- in a positive way.
Michele, I am at a loss for words this morning. I had no idea of all the suffering that you have been through. You have even more of my respect (if that's possible :)for being the brave, compassionate, and wonderful, wife, woman, and mother that you are. I hope that whomever left that comment yesterday is reading your response today.
I am with Hillary, and I can not think of anything else to say. You explain everything so eloquently, a great voice for the victims of both molestation and abortion.
What a post. You are an awesome woman. And by the way, I think I've seen that name Leah before; I believe on other blogs (??)
I'm so sorry for what you've been through, and I am so proud of you for being able to speak about it I can't even imagine your hurt.
I also love the grace you have with people. I look at you, and I think of a true Christian. A truly good person. You aren't out there looking to throw stones. You aren't protesting in front of Planned Parenthood, throwing things at women as they walk through the door. (At least I don't think you are! ;) ) You have such compassion for people, and what I really love about these posts, is that you are able to feel for the hopeless woman who at the end of the day, may choose abortion. You are so against that choice, yet you can hold compassion for the person making that decision. I love that quality about you.
If I can be completely honest, I can totally understand why someone would abort a baby that was conceived through rape. I can. In the same breathe, I can completely realize that this rape was NOT the baby's fault, and therefore shouldn't be punished. What a difficult issue. Again, I love your willingness to share your thoughts.
I have so much respect for you. :)
@ Leah: I do pray outside PP from time to time... But I leave my slingshot at home ;) God knows I have no place to cast stones at anyone, and I'd prefer a rosary over a slingshot and a silent prayer over a harsh word any day.
All I want to do is flood you with love. Really...if I ever meet you in person I will probably just tackle you. And then I will stand up, pull you up, and say, "now when is happy hour?"
You are the type of person I call "a walker." You don't just talk the talk, you walk the walk.
I have come to appreciate that being "pro-life" means supporting women or couples or families in crisis with their choice to parent or make an adoption plan. It's providing resources and ongoing support, not just on one afternoon.
Is America better because we have 54 million less people in it, lost through abortion? I doubt it. I cling to belief that one person can make a huge impact and change lives and hearts, though.
(Cue me tackling you again, and planting a big MWAH-kiss on your head).
I found your blog on Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. I am very sorry for your loss. I too lost my baby, Lily Katherine, who was stillborn at fullterm on March 16, 2010. Although I wish nobody else had to know this pain, it's good to know I'm not alone and there are people who "get it." I'd love to have you follow along on my blog as well: www.roseandherlily.blogspot.com
Blessings, Hannah Rose
Michelle. . . just another reason why I have so much respect for you. So much more can be accomplished in prayer than by throwing stones. I love that. :)
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