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.
7 thoughts on “Panic”
Anne, I am so sorry that you experienced that, and at such a young age. So traumatic. Of course the news in Texas would hit you like a ton of bricks. So far we have been in complete agreement politically, and the Texas law is no exception. Kudos to you for such a heartfelt response to the extreme conservative bend the nation is taking.
I have a feeling that the unintended consequences of the Texas law will come back to bite the people of that state and any others who make up such poorly thought out laws. The lawmakers have no idea how close to home they are hitting. There will be backlash. I do not see how the law can stand, regardless of the current makeup of our Supreme Court.
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Thank you. I hope that those who are anti-choice will at least contemplate the point of view of a survivor. In my training to be an activist, sharing your story is the best way to help people understand the opposing point of view. I hope we can effect change.
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Sharing our stories. Yes.
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This seems to have caused a huge reaction. I have a friend who was violently sexually assaulted and I asked her for her thoughts on this subject. She said that she would have thought that even with a law like this courts would make some provision for a girl or woman who has been the victim of a criminal sexual act. However, she and her family have worked for the healthcare profession and she said that by far the majority of terminations here in the UK are completely unconnected with criminal acts.
I think anyone with any common sense sees that there are cases when for a woman to carry and give birth to a child, and to rear a child that is the result of a criminal sexual assault would be deeply traumatic and harmful. I also think that if there is a risk to a woman’s life to have a pregnancy, there is also a reason for some legal basis for medical professionals to advise a woman on the risks involved.
Yet the numbers of terminations that seem much more to do with convenience, desire, finances and other factors are scary.
I was never able to conceive, and it was a source of many many tears for me. It has always been hard for me to understand when a friend decided on a termination because it was “not the right time” for them as far as their career or other life plans were concerned. It was very hard to swallow that.
This has always been a very difficult and emotional subject. The numbers of terminations are staggeringly high, which is disturbing. Very few balanced people would feel a woman who has been the victim of a crime should go through with a pregnancy, but this seems to be a very small number compared with the those who have a termination for other reasons.
But in all honesty, I feel as if there is very little middle or balanced ground when it comes to US politics. Issues seem to be more black and white than ever, and it is rather scary to see divisions deepening. I think that there eventually be a sort of show-down between those agencies that influence Joe Public and inflame unreasonable dogmatic stances.
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First, I’m so sorry that you have fertility issues. I can’t imagine the heartache this has caused you.
You are right about US politics. Many issues are black and white. And what we are seeing, along with this draconian, vigilante new law in Texas against women, are also multiple laws in multiple states restricting voting rights. It’s as if our democracy is slipping into a theocracy right before our eyes. This new law in Texas circumvents what was deemed a constitutional right for a woman to have autonomy over her body.
Listening to National Public Radio last week to an interview with a republican elected official say with an sure, steady voice when asked if a child who was raped or the victim of incest should be forced to carry out her pregnancy, and he was steadfast in support of the law, stating it was in the best interest of all parties involved that the fetus live was scary. I just don’t understand why anyone could think this was OK. It’s shocking.
Furthermore, our country lacks adequate safety nets for families who lack resources. Once babies are born, their lives don’t seem to matter to many of those who support strict anti-abortion measures.
I think this law will be challenged to the Supreme Court. And with our current judges, I think Roe will be overturned. There must be provisions for rape and incest and to save the mother’s life if hers is in danger due to pregnancy. But this law in Texas makes no room for that.
Of all the things that have happened in Texas this year, like a failing electrical grid that is long overdue for upgrades, like the increased risk for flooding from hurricanes, etc., this is what the state chose to focus their energy on. Oh, and a no permit required to carry a gun law. Sigh.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Personally, I think that many churches are far removed from God.
There are lots and lots of spin-off issues. I cannot be black and white over anything, it just does not seem right. But I feel as if people are being pushed into taking a side and almost being pushed into defending that stance with force. It is very very scary.
I think the climate of the world right now means that on a number of issues the world is very close to violent conflicts. I don’t like to think of where that would end.
I am going to try and go on living life under the rule of love and kindness, trying to show understanding and respect for others, and trying to remember that people are under huge stress, have experienced all sorts of heartaches and trauma and some are very close to breaking point.
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Agreed. With all of this. (((hugs)))
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