I was a sophomore in college when I got into a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. I was young and stupid and had no idea how I was supposed to be treated. When he verbally berated me, physically pushed me around, and forced me to have sex with him, I just thought it was part of a relationship… in church I had learned “obey thy husband” (or boyfriend, in this case).

At the time, I couldn’t be on birth control for medical reasons, but this did not deter my boyfriend from having sex with me whenever he wanted despite my protest. Within a few months, I was pregnant. To be honest, it was my boyfriend who coerced me into an abortion, as I was raised to believe it was a sin.

While I was riddled with guilt at first, I came to realize that abortion is NOT a sin, and came to marvel at what a life saving decision it was for me. It kept me in school, and kept me from being permanently attached to a terrible man who would have undoubtedly continued to abuse me… to what end, I could only venture to guess.

He treated me even worse after the abortion and told me that I was damaged now, that no one would ever love me. I know a lot of young women might think this about themselves for having an abortion, but I’m here to tell you, he was WRONG and so are you. It was he who was damaged, and there are so so so many amazing people in my life who have heard my story and love me despite (and because) of it.

20 years later, I can legitimately say that having that abortion was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It was transformational and core to who I’ve become: indepent, smart, and strong. I’m a highly educated, productive member of society: a businesses leader and a pillar in my community. I can only venture to guess what a shadow of myself I would have become (perhaps dead) had I not had an abortion.

So I thank god every day for the reproductive rights and access in this country, and I stand every chance I get with the brave men and women who fight for our continued access, so women could choose for themselves, could save themselves, just as I did.