By Dorothy Prophet
It started when she was 5. It was simple enough, starting with touching non-private parts, tickling and hugging, and moving on from there. Then it escalated when her mother was in the hospital giving birth to her first stepbrother and she was left at home to be cared for by her stepfather. In those days, women stayed in the hospital for days even with a healthy birth. Looking back, she can see that what was happening is now known as grooming. The invitation of, “I’m going to take a nap, come lay down with me,” was the start of things to come.
Being a child of divorce and living in an alcohol-soaked home, she had felt the sting of neglect and this attention felt good. She always had clothes, shoes, food and even toys, but was shuffled aside to busy herself while the adults led their lives. The “special” attention her molester gave her was as close to love as she had ever experienced.
The incidents became more frequent and, at 7 years old, she was skilled at pleasing her molester. Now in school, she began to have the sense that what was happening was not normal, which made her begin to have feelings of shame because her body betrayed her. It is biologically natural for a body to feel pleasure when stimulated, but the shame that accompanied it ate at her.
There were times the molestation would subside for months at a time, but then would start up again randomly. When she started her period at 12 years old, there was almost a year without any incidents. But then she began to develop and look more like a woman and it started again, this time with much more aggressiveness.
While she had already technically had lost her virginity, at 15 she re-lost it of her own accord by becoming sexually active with her boyfriend. Sex really didn’t seem like anything valuable — after all, it had been a part of her life for 10 years at this point.
Then it happened, she discovered she was pregnant, but was it her boyfriend’s or her stepfather’s?
At that time abortion was illegal in the state she lived in, so the decision was made by her mother and stepfather that she would fly to Seattle through an Underground Railroad-style network to have an abortion. By the way, her stepfather graciously said he would pay the bill.
She flew alone to Seattle on a Friday afternoon and was met by a very kind, gentle woman, who drove her to a nearby hotel. The makeshift abortion clinic inhabited adjoining rooms — one room set up as the surgery room, and one as recovery. The recovery room had seven gurneys around the perimeter for women to rest after the procedure until they were ready to leave.
At most they had an hour.
The doctor was rough, and told her he hoped she had learned her lesson. It was over in minutes. In the recovery room the moans and cries of the others still ring in her ears to this day. She laid in silence waiting to leave.
That night, at the home of the kind woman who had picked her up at the airport, she had soup and was treated with empathy, although she did not share her story of what happened to bring her to this place. The woman did. It seems when she was in her 20s and found herself with an unplanned pregnancy, she had to fly to China to get her abortion. Then, 20 years later, she was helping other women to be able to have safe, if not sensitive, care when in such a situation.
Saturday afternoon she was on a plane back home. Monday morning, she went to school like nothing had happened. It was never spoken of at home and she never told her friends — it was just locked away.
However, secrets locked away tend to fester. In her case, it resulted in acting out in promiscuous ways and drinking. She moved out of the home she grew up in when she was 17. She finished high school while holding down a nearly full-time job and living on her own.
Many years later after many other twists and turns of life, she tried to commit suicide to stop the pain and shame of having been molested and the consequences of it. While in the hospital after the suicide attempt, she was given a choice: jail time or court-ordered counseling. Trying to commit suicide is illegal. She chose counseling.
With time and trust built, for the first time she admitted out loud to the counselor what had happened to her as a child, as well as the shame, anger and helplessness that had taken root in her soul. How it changed the very essence of her personality; and, consequently, her entire life.
I won’t bother to tell you the rest of the story, as that is not the point. The bottom line: She survived and thrived because the abortion gave her that opportunity. If she had been forced to give birth, that life trajectory would have been too much to bear.
Not allowing safe, empathetic and compassionate care for women in such unfathomable situations is tantamount to bondage by the government. Additionally, limiting access to birth control will only exacerbate the situation. More people — mostly women and children — will become dependent on government programs to survive. Programs that are already overburdened and insufficient. Taxes will rise and poverty in this county will explode in ways you probably don’t want to imagine.
Is abortion a good solution? No, but at times it is a solution. Sometimes the only one. No one makes the choice without profound consideration. No one forgets they made the decision.
This is not a black-and-white topic. It has many shades and circumnstances — pedophilia, rape, incest and financial strees — and each stands alone.
Now we must all either fight for a better world, or be complacent and wait until what they come after next affects you personally.
Oh, and by the way, this is my story.
Author’s note: The only reason I’m willing to share such personal information is so people can see that this is not a black-and-white issue.
While we have you ...
... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.
You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal