It was the summer of 1957. I was 17 years and heading into my senior year. I was at a dance hall with a bunch of friends. My parents had a curfew for me, so I needed to get home, but my friends who drove me wanted to stay. A young man who was a few years older than me and whose brother lived across the street from me offered me a ride home. I didn’t really know him, but his family was very nice and it seemed like a kind offer.
As we were driving home, he passed by the block I lived on and I told him right away, but he insisted he had another way to get there. He went to a back road where there was no one around — no houses or anything. I knew something was wrong, even though he said he just wanted to talk to me. I pleaded with him to take me home, but he forced himself on me. I fought him and I thought I was okay.
I went home, washed myself off, but told no one what had happened. I’d never experienced anything like that before and neither had any of my friends as far as I knew. I was frightened and I couldn’t figure out why anyone would ever want to hurt me. Having an older brother, I’d always felt protected.
Since his brother lived across the street, he was still around, and he tried to come to my house to apologize, but I slammed the door on him. Thankfully, we were moving and I wouldn’t have to see him at all much longer.
At the end of the summer, I was in a car accident and was thrown from the car. I ended up in a doctor’s office, complaining that my stomach was hurting. They had me examined and asked me if there was any chance I was pregnant and I just said that I don’t know because I had no idea about these things. When the results came back that I was pregnant, I was in shock.
At this point, I told my mother about the rape. My mom offered to raise the baby, but I said, “No, this is my child.” The doctor asked if I wanted an abortion and I said, “Absolutely not! The baby is in my womb. God has a reason and it’s my baby too.” I knew what abortion was, and I knew that abortion kills a baby. I’m thankful for my Catholic upbringing which taught me about the value of life.
School was starting, but I was not able to attend my senior year because I was pregnant and that was not allowed. After I had my baby, the rules were changed, but this was what I faced. Even still, abortion would never have been a consideration.
During my pregnancy, I met my future husband and I told him I was expecting a child through rape. He was very kind, gentle and compassionate. Niel told me, nevertheless, he wanted to date me. Before my baby was born, he proposed to me. I told my mother, but she said to wait until after the baby was born to make sure Niel really wanted the baby. Niel gave my son his name, Peter, and I married him after Peter was born and he raised him as his own son.
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When my son was born, he was 8 lbs, 7 oz — a big baby. From the moment I first saw Peter, I loved him. He was beautiful. I never saw the rapist in him. He was my baby.
I believe God brought my husband into my life when I needed a father for my baby. I had prayed and asked God to bring one and He did. We had six more children, but two died during my pregnancy. I know what it’s like to be laying on a gurney in a hospital losing your baby.
It wasn’t until my son was in his 40’s that I told him the difficult story of his conception. There was a family member who had insinuated that they were going to tell him, so I made sure that he heard it from me. I told him, “I love you with my whole heart and soul, but I’ve kept something from you and I have something to tell you.” After I told him the story, he said, “You loved me that much and wouldn’t abort me,” and then he hugged me.
Today I have an agency that’s 12 years old called Helping Hands Caring Heart — a Christian-based agency. I developed it through what I had endured myself and I help women who are having children. So many of them have been raped. I help them so they’re not homeless and don’t lose their babies. I give them clothing and diapers and network them into jobs. I help them find apartments. It’s a 501 c 3 nonprofit and it’s located in New York.
I use my testimony to help others realize that they’re not alone and to thank God that He has a plan for them and their children, as I minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
LifeNews Note: Pat’s husband was killed by a truck as a pedestrian a few years ago, and Pat has been a widow since. Pat is a mother to 5, grandmother and a foster mother, as well as executive director of Helping Hands Caring Heart, and now blogger for Save The 1.