Christians, Rape, and Abortion

Periodically,  I see something about adoption being the ‘best’ option with pregnancies from rape, usually by someone who has never been in that situation.   I got pregnant from a 6 hour violent rape in 1987, and was tormented about what to do.  As a Christian, abortion was something that was too painful to even think about, but I did think about it (and felt guilt and shame for just that).  And I understand why other women do as well.  I’m in no way condoning abortion, but I understand the pain behind it.   Being adopted, and knowing how much that had consumed my life with wanting to have contact with my biological family, giving away the baby would have been incredibly difficult as well.  Now that I’ve had contact with my biological family, I understand how that changed my bio-mom’s life forever.  She wasn’t given a choice about what to do with me… she was shamed  (or totally ignored about that pregnancy after returning back near her childhood home) because of getting pregnant with me when she was 17.  Nobody really thought about HER during that time.  Just get rid of that baby (me).  In terms of emotional outcome, a forced adoption leaves lasting, intense scars; so does an abortion resulting from painful circumstances, even if the latter involves more relief as well. The situations  are very different- but it would still have been very difficult to give away something that was %50 ‘mine’.  And a disaster to raise it.

It was a horrendous 10-12 weeks from the time of the rape and the actual miscarriage that started  one morning before work.  God saved me from the decision. I had horrible morning sickness all day long starting very early in the pregnancy.  Whenever something was in my mouth, I dry heaved.  I lost 30 pounds in the first month, and agonized over what to do with ‘it’. The ‘dismissal’ by other Christians that I see in various articles/posts about other people  is really hurtful.  “Just pray.”  Prayer is so important, but sometimes God could use another Christian to actually DO something tangible to be of some support to a woman going through a pregnancy from rape, without judging (something Christians are so good at).  The shame gets dumped back on the rape survivor.  I was VERY thankful that God took the decision out of my hands.  That miscarriage in my situation was a huge blessing. I still have the image of it in the toilet.  It took years to tell anybody about what had happened.  Ironically, it was a nun who happened to be the nurse practitioner doing my annual female exam who validated what I’d known for years.  I’d been pregnant.

Normal Christian response to a rape pregnancy:  “Just buck up and give birth to the kid”.  THEN get rid of it through adoption.  It’s not that easy!   But that’s what most Christians want done with babies from rape, mostly in situations they have no personal connection to… makes their judging so much easier.  No consideration for how difficult the decisions really are for the one who was raped, impregnated, and then basically disregarded by the Christians she grew up with, or even didn’t know (why turn to a church who shows disdain towards someone who is hurting).   The platitudes are incredibly painful.  God can do  anything- I truly believe that.  But He doesn’t keep those who love Him from making some thoughtlessly  painful comments.  Those who knew me before the rape know just how much I loved babies.  I spent eleven years in the church nursery taking care of little ones during church services. By the time I moved to another state, that was half of my life.

I need to clarify a few things. I am not pro-abortion.   I’m not even moderately pro-choice. But I ‘get it’.  I couldn’t go through with it.  I also don’t believe that it should be a legal/political matter; legal or not abortion will happen regardless.  People don’t want government in their business, but they’re all too eager to crawl up in a woman’s womb and tell her exactly what she should, or can do.  Having been through the experience of needing to make decisions, I ‘get it’.  It is excruciating It’s not done with some flip sense of apathy- at least in my situation. I was a virgin, and was raped for 6 hours to the extent that uterine ligaments were torn from the ‘impact’ of his penis, fists, and a wine cooler bottle he used repeatedly to  impale me- for six hours.  I still couldn’t choose abortion.  But I definitely understand the mindset for many who do…. they’re not hateful women who don’t care.  They’re traumatized women facing more trauma.  This wasn’t some flash of consideration of an abortion as some sort of cheapened birth control from a mistake the woman made…I’m absolutely opposed to  lack of accountability for actions.  But getting pregnant in the case of rape isn’t by consent… the woman who is raped is forced into accountability for a criminal action and situation that  she didn’t initiate.  Or deserve.

I’m also adopted. That wasn’t a choice I was comfortable making, and not so much because of the adoption itself. I believe adoption is  a very viable solution to unwanted children in many situations.  I’m thankful my birthmother didn’t get rid of me (I was born before Roe v. Wade) and I was even more thankful to know I wasn’t conceived in violence, or even indifference.  There was love behind my existence. That was hugely helpful in feeling like I did belong on the face of the earth after all !   I was the product of monogamous teenage love (who ended up staying in contact until my biological father’s death in 1994, though they’d gone different ways to have their own families, primarily because of my biological maternal grandmother’s absolute refusal to have a bastard child in her family).  I wasn’t the product of deceit, violence, and pain.

I  don’t think I would have made it emotionally if I’d had to carry a baby to term, and then give it away, even though I didn’t want anything around me that reminded me of the man who raped me (he got a 60 year sentence after being shot in my bedroom by police, and is in and out on parole; he’s a career criminal, each more violent offense committed while on parole, including my rape- not fodder for genetic material).  I feared that my ability to parent without prejudice towards the kid wouldn’t be good for the kid- and yet ‘giving away’ a baby also hurt, though would have been the only option when it came down to it.  But, I felt backed into a corner, and my 23-year old brain wasn’t doing well. I wasn’t equipped to cope with any of it.  My faith in God was strong.  I think people don’t think it was, since I don’t tow the  pulpit line of ‘no clue’ when it comes to actually being in an inflicted  felonious situation with ongoing complications.    God got me out of that rape alive (the ‘plan’ , as the rapist spoke to me during the rape,  was to dismember me alive, then leave with my car; I was still on workman’s comp for a back injury, so nobody would have missed me for a while).   God  gave me the opportunity to escape after six hours- as soon as it was as safe as it was going to be, I got out.  God  allowed me to meet my downstairs neighbors (where I ran to, in a towel and barefoot) just days before the rape, after moving to a new apartment complex.   And I talked to God a lot during that morning.   God is the reason I survived.  And I’ve known that as far back as when the rape was still going on.  My faith has been intact when it comes to God.  My ‘faith’ in many of His followers?  Not so much.  I know of a man from my childhood church who survived a brutal attack, much worse than the beating I survived .  Nobody questions anything he had to deal with afterwards.  Of course, no unwanted child involved there.

What would I tell the child when it came looking for me 18 + years later?  How could I ever make it “right” that the child was fathered without my consent by a career criminal?  How could I ever tell that kid that it was never wanted by the woman who carried it to term, even if indirectly just by saying the word ‘rape’ ?   I know all of the Christian platitudes by people who have never been in the situation.  I know of some stories about Christian women who have carried the rape-baby to term and given it up for adoption, and how they all ran towards each other in lavender fields one day, to live happily ever after. That’s great that it happened to be such a blessing  for them to get raped (you know what I mean).  I was just flat out violated and tormented.  My miracle was surviving.  I could never have moved forward with any sort of intact mental functioning with a rape-child returning as an adult.  As it was, when the parole protests started I was a mess. A lot of stuff I’d managed to bury for 20 years blew like Vesuvius ( 20 years is 1/3 of the mandatory part of the 60 years he agreed to in a weird plea bargain).  Twenty years after the rape, it was like I was back being threatened again.   My faith was strong (still is).   That doesn’t make dealing with ongoing reminders of Jan. 10, 1987 easy.  Nobody forgets that kind of attack.Miscarriage for someone who is actively trying to have a baby, or who would welcome a baby at any time during their life, is a kind of pain I can’t even imagine.  I’m not saying I’m thankful for the miscarriage itself;  I was SO glad that the situation was ‘fixed’.  It’s never over, but I had no decisions to make about a child.   My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage (or any other reason).  That has to leave a huge hole in someone’s heart. My mom (adoptive- one I grew up with from the time I was 10 days old- so who I consider to be my mom) lost two newborns a couple of years apart in a time when it was just sort of explained as what was ‘best’ (babies were too sickly).  She wasn’t even allowed to see either baby, who lived two and six days (now they would have had more than a %90 survival rate).  Her derailed grief process went on to impact her intensely, as she was unable to really acknowledge any bond with me. She was terrified of another loss. I truly believe she wanted me and loved me – but she wasn’t able to convey any sort of warmth in a way that a child understands.  Looking back, I see all sorts of examples of her love.  But a kid needs things that are much more tangible- hugs, patience, etc.  That isn’t the same as what I went through at all.  I understand that.   I recognize her losses as the losses of wanted babies.  I hope that one day in Heaven I’ll see that unwanted baby that I lost, in a place where pain is erased.  But for here on earth,  God saved me from the agony of deciding what to do, and the aftermath.  Giving up a baby isn’t ‘simple’, regardless of its conception.

What saddens me so much is that the people who claim to be all about love and God are the ones who judge and shame  the most.  I’m a  born again Christian, and have been for more than 45 years.  I’m far from perfect, but I know where my spiritual foundation is. I love God deeply, and am so thankful for what Christ did on the cross for me. And yet, I’m afraid of having any sort of deep relationship with Christians because of the level of judgement.  I never get that shame from non-believers.  With most Christians, finding out that someone they know from church has been raped is met with silence, not support.  It’s as if I somehow deserved it- even if the silence is just out of ignorance. Ya can’t talk to a Christian about rape !   I wonder how many Christians suffer in silence over rapes they feel shame about, when they have nothing to be ashamed of.   I’ve had things edited and censored when I’ve tried to reach out to an age group ready to head out into the world on their own.   How I got raped was all about ‘helping my neighbor’, without thinking about myself, and that almost got me killed.

I’d never been taught at church that assessing my personal safety, or listening to that funny little voice that says  something isn’t right, is OK  (and in fact Biblical- Proverbs 27: 12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”).  I didn’t deserve it. Nobody does. Rape is about violence and defects in the rapist.  I was wearing a sweatshirt from the Christian  camp I went to as a kid  (and worked at during 2 1/2 summers in my late teens)  when he started to violate me. I was answering a call for help (turned out to be a lie, but I took it at face value, and felt obligated to ‘help my neighbor’).  And yet, Christians are the ones who have been the most critical of me (or anybody who is raped) and the things I have felt about the pregnancy.  I’d love to speak to church high school groups (and their parents if they wanted to come) about making smart decisions when going out into the world/college.  Being a Christian isn’t a safeguard from non-Christians who have evil intentions.  Evil comes disguised as a beautiful creature, remember.   We’re in the world, even if we’re not of it. 

I also thought about what I’d do if I’d had the baby, given it up for adoption, and it later came to me asking about its father. I would not have lied to that child.  To have a child come back in 18+ years and ask about its biological family, only to hear that it wasn’t wanted from the get go (no matter WHO wanted to adopt it) would have been heartbreaking for the child… and there’s no way to tell a kid they were conceived during a rape, and make it out to be a desired conception.  I know what sort of things ran through my head as a kid long before I met my biological family.  Even if “God has  a plan for you” would be pretty hard to take after “You were conceived during a 6 hour rape, where your father was shot by police shortly after I got away.”  How can that come out as something less than devastating?   I found out I WAS wanted (even if unplanned), conceived by teenagers who had been monogamous for several years, and who loved each other.  I couldn’t give that to the child of rape.  I couldn’t sugar coat it, nor would I; a child seeking birthparents deserves the truth.  Finding a biological father’s primary address over decades is the Texas Department of Corrections would have been a nightmare for the product of a rape. The child would deserve answers, delivered with compassion.  But the truth no matter what.

Some may view me as ‘ a bad Christian’ for my views-  and that’s fine; they’re only human beings.  It hurts immensely, but judgement from  people is essentially meaningless in the long run.  God knows my heart. He knows the struggles I had with being pregnant, and trying to figure out what to do. He knew I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle what was going on. That is why the miscarriage was a blessing. That is why I can understand why some people consider abortion after rape.  That is why I couldn’t just give a baby away, though I wanted nothing to do with it.  It’s NOT simple.  It’s horrifically painful, and continues to be a very tender subject.  And I know that I can’t depend on the majority of Christians I know for any sort of support when I’m having a hard time (every three years there is another parole protest).  Christian love goes out the window when abortion, rape, and rape pregnancies come up.  Forgive the church member having an affair, but get that pregnant woman out of town if she’s not married, or was raped.   Regardless of the lifelong pain of being raped, and it not being my fault, there is judgement because I understand why someone would consider abortion.  Not because I had one.  That gets forgotten.  Just because I am honest enough to say I wanted nothing to do with that baby, I’m considered “less than” acceptable to include with the people they know.   Again, God knows my heart.

Here’s an idea to those who make abortion a political issue…. it’s going to happen no matter what the laws are.  It’s a choice that is between that woman, possibly the sperm donor,  and God.  HE is the one who will make the ultimate law when that woman stands before Him, and He sees her heart.  If Christians don’t like doctors who perform abortions, don’t go to them, and pray for them !  Don’t like an organization that deals with abortion?  Don’t support them, and pray for their management folks.  We have bigger issues in this country right now (like getting Congress to work?). Why is so much time blown on making abortion a political issue, when it has nothing to do with government?  Don’t like funding issues?  Then vote for a special referendum. And pray for the folks doling out the cash.   Maybe put more effort into realizing that an unwanted pregnancy deserves some compassion (for the baby, if not the mother), so the woman feels that there is some support out there to get the baby to term, and into a loving home.   Fussy, fussy humans trying to control the choices of someone else, who (in the situation besides rape/incest) made a bad decision, wasn’t on birth control to prevent more consequences from random/unprotected sex, and got “in trouble”.   God will forgive.  Why won’t His followers? Forgiveness isn’t condoning.  It’s leaving it to God, and is a mandate BY God (Matthew 6 and 7 ), and has little to do with the “offender”, but in the relationship one has with God themselves.   Even self-righteous Christians aren’t in charge of judgement.

Try timing the contractions of a 12 year old in labor with her father’s baby, and not thinking about appropriate times for abortion.  I had to do that when I worked adolescent psych.   Talk about heart wrenching .  Her child (a baby girl) was put up for adoption, and the 12 year old and her three younger sisters were put in foster care. The twelve year old was appropriately terrified (not even sure if she knew how she GOT pregnant).   All she knew was that daddy diddled her.  That was her ‘normal’.   Christians don’t like to think about the real world.  It happens if they think about it or not.  And the real world could use a LOT more Christian love, and kick the judgement to the curb.

The rape is how I ended up never letting anybody get close enough to end up in a marriage, with my own family of kids.  I always thought I’d have at least four kids.   And, church is how I never thought it was OK to protect myself if I was asked for help.   The ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ argument can also end up in one rape plus one pregnancy/abortion = one suicide.  Is that better?   I’m thankful God got me past that and took that baby away to a safe and beautiful place.  He definitely was in control.  And I’m eternally thankful.

EDIT: After seeing a comment on one of the searches for my blog, and seeing  “I was raped, am now a Christian, and can’t get over it”, I MUST let anybody who is raped know that it is NEVER your fault. Rape isn’t about anything you did or didn’t do, or what you wear, or anything else- it is an act of violence committed ON you- you aren’t the one who did anything wrong.  God isn’t going to judge you for being raped. ❤  Please, please… know that you are NOT damaged goods, and you are still a precious child of God.  I wish I knew the folks who are in pain who end up reading this- I’d want so badly to let you know that you’re not the one who is defective- it is the one who raped you who is accountable for what he did TO you.  Please know that God cares about you and wants you to feel His love for you.

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