Jonathan Husbands had always felt different during his life, as his step-father wasn’t very loving towards him and because he “sensed the whispers, nudges and knowing glances,” according to The Daily Mail.
It wasn’t until he was 65 though when his mother took him aside and revealed to him that he was the conceived from rape. While her boyfriend and sister were downstairs in the kitchen, waiting to go to a dance, a man named Jock who was a tenant at her parent’s home took Jonathan’s mother, Mary, aside and raped her. He was a decade her senior and already married with children. While many rape victims today experience an undeserved stigma, particularly if they become pregnant as a result, times were much different when Mary became pregnant with her son after being raped at just 20 years old.
Mary wasn’t even aware of the term ‘rape’ when it happened to her and there was a sense of shame for her and family, especially when the doctor announced she was 2 months pregnant after she became sick. So that Mary could keep her son, her parents married her off to a friend of theirs, Bob, who was a widower and needed help with his house and young children. He was in his 50’s, but Mary did not have much of a choice. Jonathan recalls that he did not experience much love from his step-father and that Bob was often violent towards his mother, who made excuses for him.
Mary waited until a year before her death to tell Jonathan of her experience, when she was 84. Jonathan recalls she “felt a huge sense of shame.” She begged her son not to find out more of Jock until she died and other than finding out a birth and marriage certificate, he respected her wishes. He did discover through his searching that Jock had been abusive towards his wife and children and left them to live across Europe, where he died in Yugoslavia from a pulmonary embolism.
The account from The Daily Mail is certainly full of unhappiness. And Jonathan says that he “…can never forgive [Jock] for what he did.” What Mary experienced during the years during and following World War II from her rape, and what Jonathan experienced as a child, merely for being conceived, born and raised by his mother, are experienced by women and their children even today.
Society sees something wrong with these women and especially with their children. Oftentimes, “help” comes in the suggestion, usually the pressure, to abort. While Mary and Jonathan’s story does not mention the option of abortion, Mary was hardly shown much real support it seems. Instead of bringing up abortion, or focusing on a sense of shame, which is a way of blaming the victim, as Mary’s family did do, those who wish to truly help women in their healing and recovery ought to do better. These women deserve real kind of support, as do their children, especially when the mother doesn’t want to abort or have to give up her child in the first place.
There is some good out of Mary and Jonathan’s lives, of course. Mary truly loved her son, demonstrated by her giving him life and sacrificing her own happiness to be his mother. It certainly seems that her son gave her a sense of happiness and pride:
‘She was doing the best she could with what she had and she never gave me any hint of the trauma my birth had caused her.
‘Mum even fought for me to stay at school when Bob wanted me to leave to bring in money. She wanted me to be able to do the things she was denied because of what had happened to her.’
And she achieved her wish: in the early Sixties, Jonathan became the first member of his family to go to university, studying geology and geography at Hull.
By the time he graduated in 1966, he had met Lynne. After marrying in August 1967, the couple settled in Essex, where Jonathan was a management trainee with Ford.
‘Mum was spectacularly proud,’ he says. By then Mary was a widow — after Bob’s death in 1964, she gained a new independence.
‘She managed to recapture some of her spirit and found some happiness through dancing and friends,’ says Jonathan.
‘I have found that comforting now I know what she endured all those years before.’