My story is not an easy one to tell. However, I think it’s important to try, because I know what it’s like to feel alone. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I believe in the deepest part of my heart that what I’ve experienced has not been in vain. If talking about what has happened in my life can help one less person to feel like she is struggling by herself, then I will try.
Living for Christ
To begin, I am a convert to Catholicism. My decision to enter into the Church was a long but peaceful one, stemming from a desire to realize God more fully in my life. After a five year period of slowly developing a beautiful relationship with the Lord, I made the decision to be confirmed a Catholic and begin to know Him in a more profound way. The memory of this Sacrament, just after my college graduation, is still one of the most beautiful moments of my life and one that I will hold close to my heart forever.
In the year that followed, I used every opportunity that I could to soak up my newfound faith. To say that I was on fire for God would be putting it lightly. I loved the Lord and I loved His Church. I accepted Catholic teaching and Church doctrine easily. I was happy and involved; I felt as though I had found what I had always been looking for. As I reflect upon this period, I see it very much as a time that the Lord used to draw me intensely close to Him, almost as though He were fitting me with the armor that I would need in the years to come.
An Attack on My Person, and My Faith
One particular night, I left a long day of work to meet some friends at praise and worship event at our local parish. It was truly a beautiful evening and when I left, I felt refreshed and alive. When I got home I did the normal things that I would do to unwind on any night. I listened to music, wrote in my journal for a while and finally went to sleep after midnight.
I woke up just a few hours later to what sounded like doors slamming. The commotion definitely got my attention, but I barely thought anything of it. In retrospect, it is utterly painful for me to recollect what a false sense of security I had. It did not even begin to cross my mind that something was wrong, or that I might be unsafe. I just fell back to sleep. The next thing that I realized, there was a man walking into my bedroom. Any delusion of safety that I’d had immediately vanished.
In the hours that followed, I encountered absolute evil – I was beaten severely and raped several times. A virgin up until this point, I remember a feeling of anger toward God beginning almost instantaneously. After all, wasn’t I trying my hardest to follow Him? Wasn’t I maintaining purity and doing everything that I thought He wanted me to do? Why would He allow this to happen? In a moment of complete desperation, I begged my attacker to kill me. In my mind, surely death would have been better than withstanding one more moment of that terror. He did not kill me, however. He just vanished, as mysteriously as he’d appeared, into the early morning hours, leaving me all alone.
The next day at the hospital remains a blur to this day. I spoke with more police, received more stitches and cried more tears than I ever thought was possible. A kind doctor, who I believe really was trying to help me, asked if I wanted to receive emergency contraception. Actually, it was offered to me in a way that seemed like it was assumed that it is what I would do. Surely I would not want to become pregnant from such an act. Surely this was the logical next step. I weakly accepted it and felt relieved that this would be the last I’d ever have to think about it.
The weeks that followed were emotional and messy. I moved in with my family and made my way, day by day, clinging to their love and support. I definitely did not feel well, but figured that was due to having just sustained severe emotional and physical trauma. About a month later, at a follow up visit, my doctor asked me if I could be pregnant. My mind could not even begin to wrap itself around this as a possibility. After all, I’d taken emergency contraception at the hospital. Moreover, there was no way that God would choose to create life from something so horrific. There was no way that I could be pregnant.
But I was.
It devastated me to my very core. What is usually beautiful and happy news for women made me want to rip my skin off. I felt completely disgusted. I hated myself, I hated God and I hated the child that I was carrying.
I left the doctor’s office that day unsure of what I would do. I knew abortion was wrong and went against everything I had believed up until that point. At the same time, I had no ability to process what was happening in my life. I couldn’t even tell anyone. I was shocked, embarrassed and disgusted with myself. In the week that followed, anger and fear built up in my heart until I felt I had no other option. There was no other choice. My child was three and a half weeks old when I made the decision to have an abortion, killing him and wounding my heart forever. I was completely alone and sure that God would never forgive me.
A few years passed and I tried my best to forget what happened. Stitches were removed, wounds healed and even scars began to fade. From an outside perspective, I looked as though I was doing much better, but my heart was plagued with the decision that I’d made. I could never fully push it away, despite my best efforts.
I put up a good front, pretending that everything was fine. In reality, I had found my way to a secret life of drugs, alcohol and just about anything else I could do to numb the pain I felt inside my heart. I wanted nothing to do with God. I had not told even one soul what I’d done and I was certain that I never would.
Finding Forgiveness in God’s Love
God had different plans, however. He gently began to call me back to Him. He put people into my life who I felt that I could trust, people who did not judge me and loved me as I was. Through these people I began to remember that I needed God. I needed forgiveness. My heart, at long last, was brought back to life when I finally received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for my abortion. I began to heal, and Jesus was there to pick up the pieces.
Now, nearly five years removed from the decision to have my abortion, I can say with some certainty that I regret it to the fullest extent possible. My heart hurts deeply with the wounds that came from my assault. But the pain of knowing that I will never meet my child hurts more deeply. While I continue to wonder how I could have coped with having a baby from rape, I know that killing him did nothing to heal my pain.
I have taken a lot of time recently to think about my child. I have always believed that God took him straight to Heaven; I do not believe that he suffered and I know that Jesus holds him close.
Why should I tell my story? I am writing this because I know that abortion hurts women.
I know that the devil plays on the hearts of the confused and vulnerable and that many women are left alone and feel like they have no choice.
I know that many women carry this deep wound, alone, for years; maybe even forever.
I know this, because this is my story. But my story does not end here.
I believe that every life, no matter how long or short, has a purpose. I believe that at least part of the purpose of my child’s life was to help me become the woman that God intends me to be. My identity is forever changed because of my child; no matter how he came into this world, or how he left it. I hope that with God’s infinite mercy and grace that I can embrace this new identity and continue to grow closer to Him; to be a daughter, a sister, a friend and a mother.
LifeNews Note: This unsigned article is part of HLI America’s series “Testimonies: Finding Hope through the Struggle.” This brave testimony recounts a story of regret for choosing abortion after rape, and finding forgiveness in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. It originally appeared at HLI’s Truth and Charity Forum.