My Story

by Rebecca

April 6, 2021

Content Warning: physical & mental abuse

I met him in the summer of 1991, I was 16, about a month shy of my 17th birthday. Mark* was everything: tall, tanned, dark hair, beautiful jade green eyes, and older. A lot older. He was 29. He was also married, but I didn’t know that at the time.

It started out great. He was sweet, made me feel special, made me feel beautiful, and was always buying me gifts. As he was doing this, I started spending less and less time with my friends (I had just finished my junior year in high school). Looking back, I can see that he was socially isolating me, however 16/17 year-old me would do anything for him and didn’t think twice about it.

The first time we had sex was my first-time having sex. I was never expecting rose petals on a bed, but I wasn’t expecting rough, painful, and not entirely consensual. But I loved him and he loved me, and I didn’t want to seem like an immature high school kid.

Shortly into my senior year of high school, I got pregnant. I wasn’t happy or excited and I was scared about Mark’s reaction. His response was to kick me in the stomach repeatedly and I ended up having a miscarriage two days later. He was careful to never leave any marks where someone could see them. And if he did, I stayed at my best friend’s house until makeup could cover the healing bruises.

About 4 months after that, he told me that he needed money so he could start saving for our future. He had a friend, who had a friend, who had a job for me. A job where I could make a lot of money. It was then, at 17, that I took off my clothes and danced on a pole for money. He kept all the money I made. It’s funny, looking back on that time I felt so empowered. I could show off my body, make men want me, take their money, tell them they can’t touch me, and then leave with my boyfriend.

The physical and mental abuse got worse as time went on. I knew I needed out, but I didn’t know how. The day of my high school graduation, I found out I was pregnant again. Upset at myself because I let this happen again, I shouldered the blame. However, I had to leave my state and go to Maine to spend the summer with my dad. I didn’t tell Mark I was pregnant until the day I was leaving. He began to threaten me and told me that he would do anything to protect his family, that is when I found out he was married.

Since there were no cell phones, and he didn’t have my dad’s number, he couldn’t get ahold of me. It was so freeing, except for that one little hurdle…being pregnant. Once I started getting sick, my dad figured out what was going on. He had me talk with my older sister, she also got pregnant at 18. As I was talking with her, it became obvious to me that I wasn’t in a position to raise a baby. Hell, I didn’t want to have a baby. I sure as hell didn’t want to have a baby with an abuser. After an awkward conversation with my dad, I had another option available to me, abortion. No one in my family pushed me to choose a certain outcome, it was more an “you can’t make an informed decision without knowing all your available options”. Abortion really wasn’t a difficult choice for me to make. Once I had made up my mind, I felt so much relief.

Massachusetts had the closest abortion clinic, so my dad drove me. The first day, I had to speak with a counselor, watch some videos, and then had to have an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and determine the estimated due date. If I was over 12 weeks, they wouldn’t be able to perform the abortion. I was never forced to watch the ultrasound, and they kept the volume off so I didn’t have to hear the heartbeat. As I was doing that, my dad had to sign all the forms and waivers, as I was 17. After that, they placed seaweed sticks into my cervix to force dilation. I was told no baths or swimming, I would have some mild cramping, and they sent me home until the following day.

Mild cramping my ass. It was excruciating. I couldn’t stop vomiting or crying. My dad had no idea what to do, so my sisters came over to help me. I took a bunch of ibuprofen and some Benadryl and went to bed to sleep it off.

The next morning, we drove the 2.5 hours back to Massachusetts. The building that the clinic was in was separated into two separate wings. My dad had to drop me off at one side for the patient entrance, and then he went around and entered at the front of the building. There were protestors everywhere on the patient entrance side. They were yelling, chanting, and holding up signs. As soon as we pulled up, two giant men came up to greet my dad. These were two of the clinic escorts. They were tattooed, fully bearded, giant teddy bears. They introduced themselves and explained what they do. My dad and I agreed to let them escort me in. They flanked me, so I couldn’t see any signs the protestors were holding. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe. Those two gentlemen told me jokes and got me laughing. I’m sure the walk into the clinic didn’t take more than a minute, and even though I was beyond nervous, they made me feel better. To this day, I regret not remembering their names.

Once I got into the clinic and was called back, they did one more ultrasound and started an IV. I was administered a local anesthetic to knock me out. When I woke up, I didn’t remember anything. I was told that they were able to complete the procedure and didn’t need to return for further testing. My dad was given the discharge paperwork and we left.

I don’t regret having my abortion. I don’t think about “what-ifs” or what that child would be like today. I stayed in Maine for awhile so I didn’t have to deal with any drama. I have no idea what happened to Mark, he could’ve fallen off the face of the earth and I wouldn’t mind. I am 100% certain that having an abortion saved my life.

*not his real name

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