Wednesday, February 25, 2009

and now i'm pregnant....

I was raped...4 weeks ago, 2 months ago, in August or July, it was a while back and now I’m pregnant.

I'm really sorry you went through that. Do you want the Number to the Rape and Incest National Network hotline number?

Are there any family members you have told about your situation?


Is there anyone you feel comfortable telling?

No. My mom kicked me out when she found out I was trying to get an abortion.

Are you able to explain to her what happen to you?

No she doesn't believe me.

Can you lie to anyone to get money?


I want to help you figure this out but you will have to find a way to scrape together the money if you want to get an abortion.

These words seem completely illogical given the circumstance. When someone is raped they don’t need to be reminded they are responsible for handling the outcomes of this violation. Often that is my role. I have to acknowledge that this situation is not their fault. But, it will not go away unless they find a way to make the appointment, get the money, make the numerous phone calls, find the ride and someone who will go with them, and do whatever else is needed to coordinate services that should be accessible no matter what the cause of the pregnancy.

I've been raped before. I did not have to worry about being pregnant or obtaining an abortion after. I felt lost, confused, hurt, and a deep emotional and physical pain. The months after I was violated are a blur of emotions. I was no longer present in my body. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand how women are 5 or 6 months pregnant and didn’t realize it. Each time is not necessarily a result of rape. However, I believe this is a result of dissociation from one's body for a variety of reasons often related to some form of violation.

It’s hard to hear women's rape stories. I have a fear that their story could happen to me. Even when a woman shares the most difficult of stories with me I have to be the stern yet supportive voice on the other end of the phone saying, "You have got to get this money in order to get an abortion."

Often times, women do not offer their stories of rape for any number of reasons. When I ask them, "What about the man involved in your pregnancy, can he give you any money?" the story spills out of them. Sometimes they become angry I asked such a seemingly senseless question given their circumstances. Other times, they are searching for a listening ear and someone who will let them cry or yell or be sad, or just be ok with the realization that this is really happening.

Women are left physically and emotionally scarred when assaulted and when it results in pregnancy they are also left with the responsibility of making a choice about what to do about that pregnancy. Then they have to find the means to handle their choice to have an abortion or carry to term. When an abortion is out of reach there really is not much choice involved in the matter. In many states Medicaid will cover abortion in the cases of rape and incest. Most often to use Medicaid in these circumstances a woman needs to have reported the assault with in 24 hours and have obtained a rape kit at a hospital. Sixty percent of rapes are not reported to the police. This means that a huge number of women who are pregnant as a result of rape did not report the rape and many of the women who do report it do not necessarily do so in the 24 hour window required for Medicaid to cover abortion care.

Personally, I spent the first year after being assaulted in denial that what happened was rape. When the person who assaults you is someone you know or even love it becomes more difficult to recognize that this person violated you and it was not ok. Seventy-three percent of rape victims know their assailant. As women tell their stories it is clear they usually know the man who violated their body. It was their father, a nineteen-year-old cousin, a man at my cousin’s wedding, my best friend who committed suicide when he realized what he had done, a friend of a friend at a party, my brother’s best friend, my neighbor, a man I was dating who left me for dead afterwards. When a woman’s assailant is someone she knows intimately, reporting rape may be even more difficult and even dangerous.

Abortion is a service that should be available to anyone who wants or needs it. The financial hardship, logistical difficulties, and social stigma involved in obtaining an abortion are violations of women’s rights. As someone who is a rape survivor I must desensitize myself in order to help women navigate through all of these challenges to obtain care. These obstacles create an environment that makes it even harder for a rape survivor to heal both mentally and physically.


  1. Sparky! You're blowing my mind. This is poignant. It haunts us. It's true. Thanks for going where it hurts the most...

  2. "The financial hardship, logistical difficulties, and social stigma involved in obtaining an abortion are violations of women’s rights." This is so true and perfectly expressed.

    Thank you for writing this post. It is beautiful. You are beautiful.


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