I’m not alone now

by Anonymous

August 17, 2022

Content Warning: rape

It’s only now I can see that the man I believed I loved had groomed me. I was 17 when I met him and he was 30. People around us knew that he had been ‘working’ on me and recently one of these people told me that he had actually talked about separating me from this group so that he could get closer to me.  When I was 18 I got pregnant. He was married and a father of two already. I had met his wife, they were estranged but that didn’t make the guilt any easier. My parents had punished me for being around this man, even though we worked together and I did not know how to get away. He encouraged me to terminate the pregnancy. I did. The guilt and pain has been constant.

Fast forward to two years later and I was in a settled relationship and felt as if I was healing. However, I travelled away from home, again for work and was invited to stay with a colleague who also shared his home with a couple. They were lovely. But, when it came time for bed he said there was no where for me to sleep except his bed, with him. I was scared. He raped me. I was frozen in place as he did this. Some weeks later I found out I was pregnant again. This was before my 21st birthday. He was in his 40s.

I should say that hormonal issues had kept me on birth control since my early teens but the Doctors kept changing the pill I was taking. I was also coerced into not using other protection.

My boyfriend at the time assumed it was his. I was so in shock when my parents admitted that they knew I was expecting before I did that I just went with it when mum said I must terminate. I did. It was horrendous, because the shame I felt at having another abortion was crushing. I was still grieving my first. I had no advice. I had little support. I believed that I was the worst person. Even though I had always wanted children I believed that I was not worthy of being a mother. I had been brought up in a sheltered environment,  sex was shameful and so I was labelled a whore by my family.

However, I know now, largely thanks to reading other stories that this simply isn’t the case. I was too young, too inexperienced and too traumatised. At this point I had no job, no home of my own and I believed,  no prospects. I am so grateful for the other women telling their stories, it has been so healing. I have discovered that if all this played out again I would have made the same choice. I wasn’t wrong. Later health issues have meant that any child would have suffered if I had managed even to bring a child to term.

I never went on to have children and am now in my 40s. It has been a long, painful journey towards healing from the abuse and the trauma,  but I will get there. I know now that I am not alone and I am so grateful to live in a country where access to women’s health services exist. Thank you to all the courageous women who have helped me on this healing journey. We don’t know each other, but we share experiences that, while they differ in terms of regret or relief we know that without the option of abortion our lives would have been very different, and often to the detriment of our futures. Thank you again. You are all incredible.

I think if the stigma surrounding abortion had not been so great when I was younger I think I would have owned my choice instead of punishing myself all these years. Today I can own it. Children were not an option for me at that time,  nor are they now. I no longer regret what happened. I can open myself to dealing with the unresolved trauma before and after (I ended up in a violent relationship afterwards) and know that I was not capable of being a parent at that time. Health issues, long suspected but not diagnosed until 3 years after the second conception have meant that having a child would have been selfish and irresponsible for so many other reasons as well as my health.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!