TW: sexual assault
Thursday started with a panic attack as I scrolled the news. It was a visceral response that seemingly came out of nowhere, but in reality, it’s been simmering since I was 9.
I survived a summer of grooming, molestation, and the big event of attempted rape the summer before I turned 10. My neighbor’s grandson, who was 14, took advantage of shy, insecure, hopelessly skinny and powerless me. I was assured that I would get into trouble if I told my parents what was happening. And when he trapped me in my brother’s bedroom, held me down, and told me he was going to rape me, I somehow knew to kick him in the nuts. That’s how I got away. I didn’t know at the time what the word rape meant, but I knew from the tone of his voice, like the voice of Satan himself, that this was bad. The scars from this summer remain, with multiple facets to the enduring trauma, and I’m almost 50 now.
I think my inner child spoke Thursday morning. She’s had enough. And this is why I’m sharing.
I’ve thought a lot about the ruling in Texas. My heart aches for girls and women who are raped, and yes, this includes those who are coerced into having sex. Those who endure this trauma and end up pregnant and under this law will experience continued trauma upon trauma at the hands of the State of Texas, as there are no exceptions to the new law for cases of rape or incest.
Then my mind goes back to 9 year old me. I’ve often pondered the what ifs of my situation, even before this law was passed. What if I had been on the cusp of starting my period? (Which, by the way, I didn’t know what that was at that age. I do know that some of the girls I went to church with had already started by that age, and this is only because I figured out much later why they wouldn’t go swimming at church camp.) What if I hadn’t known to kick him where it counts? What if he was able to penetrate me and get me pregnant? What would I have done? I wouldn’t have even known what to look for or that the act could have impregnated me. That’s how naive I was.
What if 9 year old me lived in Texas, in 2021? And all of these previously mentioned what ifs actually occurred? Would my tiny body be forced to carry out a full term pregnancy and give birth? A process that I didn’t even fully understand? I mean, pregnancy at 27 and 30 was challenging enough, and I truly love and wanted my children. But I can’t imagine going through it as a child. I can’t imagine carrying the spawn of a rapist. I can’t imagine the hatred, the rage, the disgust I would feel wearing the badge of his triumph over me in my belly, for everyone to see and shame me for. How trapped I would feel in a situation completely beyond my control When it comes down to it, society will never shame the rapist. They always shame the victim. Even a child.
What if this happened, and my family figured it out in time, and then decided to take me across state lines to get an abortion, to spare my body from the physical and emotional trauma of carrying out the pregnancy of my rapist? Would vigilantes be able to bankrupt my family because they helped save my life?
This law will spread like a malignant tumor among conservative states. Similar laws are already being drafted in Florida. If politicians can circumvent law this way, what will be on the agenda next? So much for the separation of church and state. And there are credible claims that men are already trying to figure out how to get women pregnant and profit from their situation. I fear for the rights of my teenage girls. I’m so sad that this is the world in which they are coming of age.
Please help me understand why any of this is ok. Because my 9 year old inner child is petrified.
One of every six females in the United States has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. For the referenced claim about men profiting from the new law, see @tizzyent on Instagram. Pandora’s Box has been opened in Texas. It’s time to speak up. Write to your senators and congressmen. The perspective I shared about this ruling is just one reason why I oppose this law. And there’s so much more that SHOULD be done if we want to reduce abortion rates that is NOT being done, like restoring mandatory insurance coverage for birth control and providing comprehensive sex education, to name just two. This law isn’t about saving lives. It’s about controlling women and girls.
If you are anti-choice, I hope you will at least hear the fears of my 9 year old inner child. Try to imagine what her life would have been like if all of the what ifs had played out, and ask yourself if you think it’s fair. Ask yourself if you would allow that to happen to your own little girl. Ask yourself how the child of a rapist would feel if they discovered their truth. Ask yourself if that seems like a good life, to know that yours began as a violent act against a girl. Despite what some evangelical scholars preach, it’s not a sin to feel empathy. It’s human.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.