1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don’t know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let’s do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let’s share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth.
Apparently this has prompted an outpouring of heart-wrenching stories, and that made me feel like I should add my voice to the ever-increasing, truthful, agonized din. Because #youknowme. (I’ll add some other stories to the end as well.)
When I was 21 years old, I was living alone in a studio apartment in Jacksonville, Florida. I didn’t know anyone there, but that was where the decent job was, so off I went. My family was only 2 ½ hours away in Central Florida, but they may as well have been a million miles away in terms of my day to day life.
I was lonely. I’d come in to work on Mondays and my voice would crack, because I hadn’t talked to a soul over the weekend. The loneliness was physically painful.
One day I was sitting in a lawn chair in front of my apartment when a guy approached me. He lived in the same complex, a few doors down. He’d just moved in. We talked for a couple hours. It felt good, talking to someone. It felt good to be listened to. So when he asked me out, I said yes.
I can’t even remember what we did or where we went. All I remember was the rape afterward, when he brought me back home, pushed his way into my apartment, and got what he had been after all along.
It was a Friday night, so I spent the weekend hiding in my apartment. I didn’t call the police. I didn’t tell anyone. It would have been my word against his. And I was so ashamed for having been so stupid.
And he would pound on my door at random times of the day and night. Three in the morning, for example. And he’d be laughing. Laughing. I would curl up in a fetal position on my bed, crying, and hope the lock would hold. He’d also ring my doorbell. Over and over and over again. I put a wadded up paper towel between the striker and the bell. He’d still do it. The click, click, click sounded as loud to me, emotionally, as the bell. Because it proved he was crazy.
For weeks I would do nothing but rush to and from my car when I had to go to work. I’d try to stagger my times so he wouldn’t be around. I’d peer out the window, then make this desperate dash.
Then I found out I was pregnant. I never wanted children, and I certainly didn’t want one that would keep me in this horrible moment for the rest of my life. I also did not have the means, financially, to care for a child, and I didn’t have the ability at the time to raise one. I was coming from a place of total emotional instability.
So yes, I had an abortion. And no, I have not had one minute of regret about it. And meanwhile, this guy was still harassing me.
So I exercised another choice. I bought a baseball bat, which I still own to this day. The next time he pounded on my door in the middle of the night I threw open the door with the bat in my hand and came at him like a banshee.
“LEAVE ME ALONE YOU SONOFABITCH!!!!”
He backed off my porch, terrified, and never bothered me again. Shortly after that, he moved away. But he did manage to get a last word in, of sorts. Just before moving away, he parked his car in front of my apartment and made out with a girl on the car’s hood, all the time looking over her shoulder at my window. And the circle of violence is unbroken. (I did find her and warn her, though.)
So, yeah, #youknowme.
And I know of other stories, too, of abortions that should have been, but never were.
When I was in junior high school, one of my classmates was pregnant. She must have been about 13 years old. One day, she disappeared, never to be seen again. They say she had the baby, and threw it over the back fence, killing it. So I can’t imagine that the rest of her life went well.
Also there are these stories from when I was an eligibility specialist for Aid to Families with Dependent Children in the state of Florida.
One guy, a single parent, actually stepped up to care for his children, but just needed a little help. But when the 6th baby came along, I guess it all became too much for him, so he threw the baby out of his moving car on Interstate 95, brutally killing it as it bounced along the pavement. The kid didn’t stand a chance. I had the pleasure of sending his cancellation letter to him at the county jail.
Another woman was receiving assistance for her 10 year old daughter. And then the 10 year old daughter got pregnant. How on earth are you not able to protect your 10 year old from that? Well, the girl died in childbirth because her little body could not cope with the birth. The mother’s response was to make sure that I added that baby on to her welfare check so that she’d receive no interruption in funds. Because yeah, the baby is all that matters, isn’t it? Or is it the money? Or the control?
Nobody WANTS to have an abortion, but sometimes you can’t see any other way. The idea that there are people out there who think they know better than me about how I should handle my life is outrageous. We are living in scary times, my friends. Very scary times.