I’m the Product of Rape and I’m Pro-Choice

This post was written by a member of the Crasstalk community who wished to remain anonymous. It originally ran on July 18th, but due to recent events, we thought it deserved another look. 

Originally posted August 22, 2012

To get to the point, I am a product of a rape. I didn’t discover this juicy little factoid until I was well into my thirties. My mother, bless her heart, had spent her entire life telling me a lie, and she had been telling me this lie for so long I think she actually began to believe it. She began to have migraines when she got older and the doctors gave her a variety of medicines for relief. One of her medications acted like sort of a truth serum, and the ugly truth spilled out in a phone conversation that ended up with me being pretty freaked out.

Let’s go back to the lie. All my life I had been told that my biological father was my mom’s high school boyfriend. He had gotten her pregnant and married her right out of school. They agreed to divorce a few months after I was born, so I don’t remember him at all.  He never visited me and never bothered to pay child support, so I grew up resenting him for not being there. It was only later that I would learn that this was only partially true. They were boyfriend and girlfriend, but she got pregnant by someone else. He felt sorry for her and married her for a short while, but that was a heavy burden for a kid right out of high school. My entire life I was mad at a guy who did nothing but try and help my mom cover up her secret. I don’t blame him for leaving us anymore.

The truth of course is much uglier. My mom had gone to a party, some guy had gotten her drunk and forced himself on her. On the phone she called it date rape. I hate that term, rape is rape, adding adjectives to the front of it to make it seem less evil pisses me off. Plus, it wasn’t even a date! Just someone she knew. In my opinion, rape is one of the three worst violations of another human being you can perform; the other two being murder and child molestation. In some ways the latter are worse because you leave a living victim with deep emotional and, in some cases, physical scars that might never heal. I’m not a big fan of the afterlife concept but if there is one, I hope there is a special place for rapists.

Looking back on my childhood, I realize now why I spent a lot of time living with other relatives. I’m sure I was a painful reminder to my mom of what happened. I have been assured that my mom does indeed care deeply for me now, but I wonder if she viewed me differently in the beginning. She has certainly never indicated otherwise but ever since I discovered our dirty little family secret, so dirty I think only four people in the family even know about it, I’ve had lots of questions with no answers. I did some sleuthing on my own, always interested if I had some half brothers/sisters but never really knowing. The man I thought was my biological father was harder to track down than Bigfoot. Oddly enough, my actual biological father proved to be incredibly easy to find.  All I had to go on was his name and the high school he attended. Some guarded questions to an aunt I trusted more than anyone else in my gene pool led me to some additional information I could use to seek him out.

I contacted my biological father a few years ago through a website and he emailed me back. We exchanged a few emails but I never brought up the topic of my conception. I wasn’t ready to quite cross the “Hi, I’m the kid you fathered out of wedlock when you raped my mom” Rubicon. It certainly doesn’t seem like a good conversation starter, much less a continuer. After a couple of emails (and a photo I saw of him in which I recognized some of my own features), I never went back to that particular website. I just couldn’t pick at that scab anymore, both for my sake and for my mom’s. Digging deeper would definitely bring forth some pain that I just didn’t feel necessary to dredge up.

The thing I realized when I was researching something else recently is that I was born before Roe V Wade was decided. This means my mom probably had almost no options when it came to an unplanned pregnancy. Yes, she could have given me up for adoption, but that probably would have meant telling the rest of the family her secret. It was probably just easier for her to live with the lie. I honestly can’t imagine what kind of thought process my mom went through in deciding to keep me. Am I glad she did? Yes. But I wish she had been given more options and better choices.

I’ll admit to not being an easy child to raise. I was constantly getting into trouble with the law or causing problems around the house (set the house on fire once when I was home alone, managed to put it out myself before too much damage was done). Not to mention I’m sure my mom wanted to enjoy her youth instead of being saddled with a squalling, trouble making brat. I remember when I was young my mom had a series of abusive, alcoholic boyfriends. Who wants to date a chick who already comes with baggage, especially during that particular era of partying hard and dancing the night away. Eventually my mom found a good guy to take care of her and I am happy that they are still together almost 25 years later. But still I wonder how much better my mom’s life would had been if she had access to Planned Parenthood or some other kind of health care.

There is something to be said for having a two parent home. I don’t care if it’s two guys, two girls or heterosexual couple, raising a child on your own must be some seriously hard work. We were always moving, my mom was always working and I spent most of my formative years in the hands of different babysitters and convenient relatives. We would sometimes move twice in the same school year, so I became withdrawn. I hated meeting new people because I was always meeting new people. I was always the “new kid” in class standing up there in my best clothes on my first day, always terrified while the teacher introduced me to the whole class.

My mom is a very smart and well-read person. If she hadn’t been saddled with an unwanted pregnancy, she probably could have achieved more in life than being a waitress or an assistant manager at a gas station. She was certainly smart enough and to this day has a work ethic that is unbelievable in someone – especially someone at her age. I’m pretty sure she’ll die working and be happy to do so. So in the years since I’ve learned the truth I wonder what she could have made out of her life if I hadn’t been forced on her.

By now you are probably thinking to yourself, “Why are you pro-choice? You might not even be here if your mom had a chance to abort you!” Well, she didn’t have that choice. I wasn’t born out of love, although I was surrounded by it as I was raised. I was born out of an ugly and despicable act. I just wish she had been given more options.

“Pro-choice” doesn’t necessarily mean “pro-abortion”. I think we can all agree that abortions shouldn’t be anybody’s plan A. What I’m saying is that, although it’s an agonizing choice for women and families, it needs to be an option. An option if you’ve been raped. An option if the baby has a profound medical difficulty. An option for a young high school student who wants to be a mother after she’s finished college and is firmly established in her field. An option for everyone. And a safe, affordable option. Not anybody’s first option.

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