For 16 years, Julie Dunlavy endured continued sexual abuse and threats from her uncle. Twice, she became pregnant after he raped her, and twice she chose life for her unborn children.
The British mom recently shared her story with the Malaysian Digest. She said she clings to her son as “the only good thing” that came out of the abuse. In August, her uncle, Peter Dunlop, 61, was convicted of seven counts of rape against her and sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to the report.
Dunlavy said her uncle began sexually abusing her when she was 13 years old. Later, she learned that he sexually abused other women as well.
When she became pregnant the first time by him, she said she felt shocked and devastated, but she never considered abortion.
“I don’t believe in it,” Dunlavy said.
Her uncle threatened her and demanded that she not tell anyone about the abuse; so she told her family that she was pregnant from a one night stand. More heartbreaking news followed. During a prenatal appointment, Dunlavy said doctors were unable to detect her baby’s heartbeat. Her baby had died in the womb.
The miscarriage was difficult for Dunlavy. When her uncle raped her again and she became pregnant, she said she felt mixed emotions – devastated that the baby was her uncle’s but happy that she was expecting another child.
“I did worry that he was going to look like Peter and he would remind me of what happened,” she said. “I was worried I wouldn’t be able to cope when he was born. But I did cope and I never let Peter touch him. I never thought of the babies as his, I thought of them as mine.”
At one point, she and her uncle lived in the same house. Dunlavy said her other family was not aware that he was abusing her.
“The abuse happened so often I lost count of how many times,” she remembered. “He would threaten me. He would say ‘tell anyone and I will burn your house down with you and the kids in it.’ He said he knew people in prison who would hurt us.”
Dunlavy said she was afraid even to sleep. Her uncle constantly watched and manipulated her, and never let her leave the house alone.
After her son was born, her uncle was arrested for other sex offenses. It took several years for Dunlavy to admit to police that he had sexually abused her, too.
“I am glad I went to the police after all these years,” she said after her uncle was convicted in August. “It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am trying to move forward with my life and put it behind me.
“My son is the only good thing to have come out of what happened,” she said.
Some people wrongly assume that most rape victims who become pregnant want abortions. Many do not. In 2013, a 14-year-old Indiana girl chose life for her baby, and her brave decision garnered national attention and support, pro-life advocate Monica Kelsey wrote at LifeNews. From the moment she was pregnant, the young teen said she knew that she would carry her baby to term.
Another rape victim, Hellen Rhoda said many people pressured her to abort her son because of the crime that caused his conception. Though she faced numerous struggles, the brave young woman chose life for her son, too.
“I could not imagine ending the life of this cute little boy (who will turn out to be great in this world) because of some wicked man’s actions,” Rhoda wrote. “When my son was born, I named him Ellis, meaning “consecrated for God.” I am glad I kept my baby, even though I have paid a heavy price for him.”
Rhoda and many others have found hope through Save The 1, a pro-life group that protects, supports and empowers women who become pregnant by rape and their children conceived in rape.