In my second year of college, when I was 18 years old, I was very sexually inexperienced. I had only ever kissed a couple of guys in high school, and nothing more than that. I also had a very low self-esteem, as I felt I was not attractive at all, and my inability to date furthered this belief. By my second year of college, I had pretty much shut down emotionally.
There was a guy in one of my English classes. He was not my type in any way: physically I found him repulsive, and he was arrogant and full of himself. He was also nearly ten years older than me and married. This guy became very interested in me. He would follow me around between classes, telling me how beautiful I was. While I didn’t like to hear it coming from him, I am ashamed to admit that I did like hearing it. Looking back, this makes me sick. But at the time, I was so desperate to hear those words because they made me feel like I was worth something.
He was very aggressive. I did nothing to lead him on; whenever he dumped his flattery on me, I’d just smile and walk away. He was married, and I found that his hitting on me was repugnant. But I lacked the self-confidence to tell him to back off and leave me alone, and he kept persisting and pressuring me. Over time, I just kind of gave in. I just let him do what he wanted to do. I didn’t enjoy it; I just kind of tolerated it. I felt that he was all I deserved, he was the best I could do. In truth, I don’t think I felt much of anything. I didn’t realize it then, but I was depressed.
He cared very little for me, as he took no precautions and had no thoughts of my safety or well-being. He knew how inexperienced I was—I think that is why he went after me to begin with. Looking back, I believe now that he was a predator.
He got what he wanted, and I got pregnant. He panicked about that, because he was married. All of a sudden, he was thinking about his wife and how his actions impacted her. All of a sudden, I wasn’t so fun anymore.
I tried twice to go to a regular clinic to have an abortion, but the doctor there was incredibly impatient. I had a great deal of discomfort because I was so nervous and anxious, and instead of giving me time to relax and helping me through it, he got angry and said I obviously didn’t want to have the procedure done. I ended up having to go to a hospital, where I could be put under general anesthetic. I spent all day in a hospital bed, with an IV in my arm. As day progressed into evening, my arm became so swollen it was twice its normal size. The guy who impregnated me spent little time with me—he had more important things to do, like attend classes and have dinner with his wife. So I lay there all day, alone, depressed and crying.
Finally it was time. I just wanted it over so I could go home. But the anesthesiologist was a Catholic, and he wanted to know if the procedure was “voluntary”. I didn’t really know how to answer that. Was it? I was 18 and in my second year of college. I was unmarried and had no way to support myself, much less a child. My father had threatened to throw me out of our house if I was ever so stupid as to “get myself pregnant”. I had no one to support me. I felt everyone would despise me if they found out, and it made it worse that the guy was married. I feared censure, hatred, loathing, judgment from others.
I was still a kid myself, and I had made a horrible mistake. I had been vulnerable, and someone who should have known better had taken advantage of me. It had not been a rape, as I had consented as much as I had been able, but I had been preyed upon.
What could I do?
Looking back now, as an adult woman in my 30s with more life experience, it’s obvious what I should have done. But as a depressed, unhappy, vulnerable and inexperienced teenage girl, it wasn’t obvious. I made a mistake, and if I could go back in time, I would tell that guy to leave me the hell alone. I would run down the hall, away from him, screaming. I would punch him in the face if he tried to touch me, and I would tell him to go back to his damn wife. Maybe I would have a chat with his wife to let her know what he was up to.
But I was a teenage girl. I didn’t know what I should do. I wanted someone to want me, to think I was beautiful. I wanted to know what it felt like to be with someone in that way. I just wanted to feel something.
I made a mistake. And having an abortion did not feel like a choice, but I knew they meant “was my life in danger”, and the answer was no, the procedure, in that sense, was voluntary. So I told them that. And the anesthesiologist refused to put me under—it violated his religious beliefs. So I had to lay there for another hour while they brought in someone with more compassion and less judgment.
I have some regrets in my life. Getting pregnant is one of them, but getting an abortion is not. It needs to be available for people like me who make mistakes. I didn’t use it as a form of contraception; I used it to correct a mistake. I have not had another abortion since.
I wish people wouldn’t judge women who get abortions. You don’t know that person’s situation or why they need to do it. It’s so easy for people to say that if you make a mistake, you deserve to live with the consequences. Really? I deserve, at 18 years old, to take on all the risks and dangers of pregnancy and childbirth? I deserve to be the recipient of others’ hatred and loathing, the horrible comments about what a slut I am and how ashamed I should be? But no one would say that to the guy who impregnated me, because he got to remain anonymous. His belly wouldn’t swell; his father wouldn’t kick him out onto the streets.
There are those who say that girls like me should give up their babies for adoption, as though nine months of a fetus growing inside me doesn’t create feelings in me that would make just handing my child over to someone a heartbreaking thing to do. No one seems to care about the emotions girls and women experience. We are just incubators for the adoption industry, so that wealthy people who can afford to buy a baby can do just that. Those poor people can’t have a baby and they really want one, and they did everything right—got married, bought a house, have steady jobs—while you did everything wrong and somehow you owe them your baby. It’s the least you can do for being so stupid. I hate this. I hate this attitude toward girls and women.
And I hate that there are a lot of people out there who want to take away our choice, and make us carry and birth babies we don’t even want. We are not horrible people for not wanting to be pregnant and for not wanting babies—we are people who make mistakes and who have a right to make our own choices about our own bodies.