I will never forget discovering your website. I stumbled upon it not long after my son taught me how to use Twitter. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to find all of these brave voices being lifted up.
I am 55 years old and lived in silence for decades after ending two pregnancies in my teens. The first time, I was 13 years old, unskilled in navigating relationships, and entirely uneducated about sex. I had been under relentless pressure from a guy several years older. On my first encounter – which was frightening, painful and degrading – I got pregnant. My parents arranged an abortion and swore me to secrecy. When I was 19, I was in a long-term relationship with a man in his mid-20s. He was kind at first and I thought we might have a future. Then he began treating me like dirt, and I endured it for reasons that still mystify me. I couldn’t take the pill because it plunged me into severe depression, so I used the diaphragm. When I got pregnant, I spent a lot of time crying into a pillow while on the floor of my bedroom closet. I was living at home and could not bear to tell my parents or anyone. My shame and humiliation were deep. My self-esteem was non-existent. If he had wanted to get married, I would have done so because I was passive in my despair. But instead he arranged and paid for an abortion, and I am so grateful. Those two abortions in my teens saved my life. I am so thankful for being able to access care, and for the compassion of providers. I was able to get an education and build a family with a kind and loving man. The worst part has been dealing – alone and in silence – with incessant messages of religious condemnation. I lived a long time with many levels of fear, including the terror that I would lose all of my relationships if anyone were to find out. But I was finally able to tell a friend, and later my husband. Instead of abandoning me as I had feared, he embraced me and kept on loving me. Then I shared with my grown sons. They listened with compassion and now support me as I strive to share my truth in an effort to help end the stigma. The stories on this website have given me strength and courage. To everyone who runs this campaign and to everyone who has shared their story: You have made a profoundly positive difference in my life and I love you with my whole heart.