This testimony was shared from a Freedom Rider at the People’s Hearing in Houston. You can view this testimony and more if you watch the webcast here. Please send your own testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org and view the Austin People’s Hearing on Wednesday at 7PM by going to stoppatriarchy.org.
When I speak about patriarchy I talk a lot about how women dare to do basic things because of how dangerous it is to be female in this society.
When I structure my sentences in this way people begin to comprehend how outrageous the notion is that we can somehow exist safely in these bodies under patriarchy. The reality is that we have no choice. Becoming warriors by necessity, we dare to exist in these female bodies every day.
We dare to wake up. We dare to go to sleep. We dare to fall in love. We dare to forge our own paths. &we dare to walk home from work.
On May 15th, I was walking home from work when I was stalked and raped by a man who I had dared to ask for directions.
This is not the first time I was violently reminded my body is not my own. In fact, I almost expected it to happen again, although I couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to simply survive after collecting the misogynist collateral damage my body had again been reduce to.
I’m not going to assume that you don’t know what that’s like because the statistics scream my story is not unique. The piece of me that survived shares a common ground with people in this very room.
I didn’t have time to consider the possibility that I had become pregnant because life just sort of went on. I had to finish walking home. I had to be at work the next day.
When the pregnancy was finally confirmed, my whole world stopped spinning. How could I just go on now? I was already broken, but this news shattered me.
The first doctor I consulted informed me that they could use fetal DNA as evidence to store in case I chose to report anything later. She helped me schedule an appointment for my eighth week. I was five weeks at this point. Apparently, somewhere around the eighth week of pregnancy, fetal DNA enters your bloodstream. So I had three weeks to wait for my rapist’s DNA to be present in my blood draw. The thought of his DNA infiltrating my body again; climbing through my veins to my heart…
I spent those long days in wide-eyed silence. I was only physically capable of silence. I don’t think I could even smile. I saw another doctor at week seven, begging him to check my blood now. He conducted a transvaginal ultrasound a terribly painful and physically invasive procedure state mandated in great stretches of this country, including here in Texas. He discovered three heartbeats. “Triplets,” he said. That was the first time I allowed myself to cry. “Please, you have to do it today. I don’t care about the DNA. I don’t want him in my body anymore.” I begged him so desperately he had to refuse. “I cannot allow you to consent to any medical procedure until you calm down.” So I waited eight more days.
There was the routine nausea that often accompanies the first trimester, but something else was happening. The pain I felt on each of those days as I witnessed my body change to accommodate three embryos, is a special type of pain.
I went to the clinic the day before my procedure to get my blood drawn. The next morning they called me to tell me the DNA sample was strong enough and that my appointment was still on for noon. That whole time I couldn’t really breathe and my heart, it couldn’t really beat.
I had an abortion. I would have had an abortion even if there was no doctor willing or able to perform the procedure. I would have had an abortion even if there was no way to afford the cost. I would have had an abortion even if no clinics were open. I cannot imagine experiences more awful than rape. BUT not being able to make the decision whether or not to carry a pregnancy? That thought seems pretty close.
Nothing would have stopped me from ending this pregnancy, even if that meant I had to end my own life: because the alternative continues to shadow my memory with a horror I never want to fully understand.
I get incredibly infuriated when people talk about abortion as some “tragic choice.”
My abortion was empowering and liberating.
The fact that anybody anywhere has been raped; that somebody right now is being violated like I was: THAT is tragic.
Abortion wasn’t just some option for me; it was my only means of survival.
I cannot begin to express the relief I felt walking out of that clinic. It was like I had this post-abortion glow. And now I’m here in Texas, fighting to ensure that women and girls get some say in their own destiny.
When we’re out on the streets talking to people, I’ve met a lot of women who genuinely care. They have stories from their family and friends and they even have their own. BUT I am noticing that some folks are concerned about their reputations. They’re concerned about their safety. I get it. I do. BUT really, if you’re a woman there is nothing you can do to be safe under patriarchy. The act of existence is already dangerous. I was raped because I dared to leave my house. When I got the abortion, I was daring to determine my own destiny. We were condemned to terrible statistics because we dared to be born female. If you care about the hopes, dreams, lives, and futures of women everywhere, get with this movement. Our existence is already dangerous, so make it count for something.