Paula Peyton went through one of the most horrifying experiences that a young woman can.
Raped at gunpoint by two men who she thought she trusted, Peyton said she was afraid they might kill her as well. Then, a few weeks later, she found out that she was pregnant.
Sharing her story with Live Action News, Peyton said she made a decision that people continuously questioned her for: She chose life.
But in doing so, the young woman said she chose more than just life for her son. She also “chose joy.”
As far as years go, 2017 began in a somewhat uneventful fashion for me, but that sense of tranquility soon vanished. I live in Memphis. It’s not the safest city, but I didn’t feel a great sense of danger. At 24, I was fairly typical. I had been going on dates and found a guy who I felt compatible with. One night, while I was hanging out with a friend from college, he asked me to stop by his apartment. Still trying to get to know him better, I thought I’d go over for a bit. He seemed like a gentleman. It seemed like no big deal. But things aren’t always what they seem. I didn’t know I would become a victim of rape.
Peyton described how the man invited her to his apartment and then held a gun to her head while he and his roommate raped her.
“Darkness blanketed my soul, and I spent the next two weeks in mourning,” she said. “Then, on a Saturday morning after a trip to Walgreens, I sat in my bathroom holding a positive pregnancy test. For the first time since the rape, I smiled. I felt this overwhelming joy.”
This unexpected joy was something her friends and acquaintances did not seem to understand. Instead, many questioned why she did not have an abortion.
“More often than not, they offered me looks of pity, followed by this one question they always asked in a way that hinted to me they thought there was one, very obvious answer: ‘What are you going to do?’” she remembered.
She said even people at her church suggested she abort her unborn baby. Others were surprised to hear she planned to parent him herself, rather than make an adoption plan.
“As they waited for me to lay out a carefully-arranged abortion plan, I would take one deep breath, smile, and say, ‘I’m choosing joy,’” she said. “Pregnancy is hard. But it’s harder when you’re forced to defend your right to love your own child.”
Choosing joy was not easy, and not just because the people around her were less than supportive. She also experienced pregnancy complications. Doctors discovered she had contracted an STD from one of her abusers, and it caused her to bleed throughout her pregnancy, she said. Peyton said she worried constantly about her unborn baby’s life, and prayed for God to save him.
Peyton’s son did survive, however; and he recently turned 1 year old. She said he is the light of her life.
She told the pro-life organization:
People thought I’d see my rapist in my son. People thought I wouldn’t be able to love him. People thought he’d be born evil. People thought my child being born seemed like a terrible idea. But things aren’t always as they seem.
It seemed, to them, like my son originated differently than others, but his life – like that of every other human being – began with God.
He is smiles and goofy giggles. He is sunshine. He is joy in the midst of mourning. He is a new dream to replace old losses. And he is light – so much light.