At 17, I graduated high school early with honors as a student heavily involved with my community. A few months later, I jumped a bigger and more dangerous hurdle:
I got out of a 4-year relationship defined by abuse that culminated in repeated intimate partner rape.
I left with the support and protection of friends (one of whom became my partner) who interceded on my behalf during escalating harassment and threatening behavior from my abuser. Leaving the relationship caused instability that lead to a short-notice move, and acute post-traumatic stress interrupted my studies in college. I dropped out, losing access to resources I had relied on to relocate.
Within a few weeks, my partner was also houseless. We stayed between several places and spent nights out together when safe shelter fell through. For a while, we scrounged money for space in a room that was crowded, unsanitary and unreliable more often than not. We survived on food like white rice when we weren’t going without. When a condom and the morning after pill failed, I became pregnant. I was homeless, hungry, and, struggling with trauma in the immediate wake of escaping abuse, went through periods where suicide seemed imminent. While pregnant, hunger increased my morning sickness, and PTSD symptoms were heightened during mood swings. The only thing I could do was count the days until my scheduled procedure. There had been only one decision I was willing to make, and I was fortunate enough to do so with the full support of my partner.
Later that month, we finally hit new resources. Thanks to abortion access, we didn’t have to expend them while I carried a malnourished, unprotected, and trauma ridden pregnancy; we were able use them on building better lives. One year to the month later, I work in a cooperative and volunteer, my partner is pursuing an education, and we’re both recovering from our experiences with hope, support, and laughter. The two of us, now 20, are safe and healing, and treasure the possibility of becoming parents down the road.