I was 16 years old and in love for the very first time. The relationship started off great, but gradually became physically abusive. I was too young to really know what to do, and naive enough to believe that the abuse would stop. When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. When I told my boyfriend he actually punched me in the stomach and said that we couldn’t have the baby. I knew I could not tell my parents. My grades had already been slipping, I had been disobeying them in order to stay out and spend the night with my boyfriend. I had just already disappointed them so much, I couldn’t stand the though of telling them I was pregnant. I knew I couldn’t have a baby at 16. I knew I was in an unstable relationship. The state that I lived in required parent consent for anyone under 18 to have an abortion. However, a state next to our only required you to be 16. My boyfriend and I drove to that state and stayed in a hotel room. The next day I had the abortion and we headed back home. I remember being in so much pain for the hours we were in the car on the way home. I got back home and told my parents I didn’t feel well. I stayed in my room until the cramping finally eased up. I never told my parents.
I went through a string of abusive relationships for most of my young adult life. At 25, I found myself in another similar situation. I was in college and in a relationship with a man who had become physically abusive. I think I had just become numb to the abuse. I thought I was strong enough to handle it, or maybe even that it was normal. But, this time I was older, I would graduate college in a year, I could do this. I had the baby. A perfect baby girl. I finished college and graduated, but the abuse from her father never stopped. I couldn’t find a full time job and we were struggling to pay the bills and pay for our daughter. On one night, when he became particularly abusive, I called the police to help me. An officer pulled me to the side and told me that if I continued to let the abuse continue in the house, I could loose my daughter. I was so shocked. He had never laid a hand on anyone but me, she wasn’t being abused! But, the truth is, seeing the abuse happen would affect her. She shouldn’t have to see it. That gave me the courage to leave her father. In the weeks following our split, I worked hard at finding stability for my daughter and myself. Then, the last thing I expected happened. I realized that my period was late. I figured it was just because of all of the stress, but it never came. I was pregnant again. I had just got away from this abusive man. I was building a life without him for my daughter and I. I swore after my first abortion, I would never have another. That I wasn’t the kind of person who would use abortions as birth control. I knew that if I continued on with the pregnancy and had another baby I would go back to my ex. I couldn’t support TWO kids on my own. I would need him. I was barely getting by with just one child. Having another baby really felt like I would be taking the little extras I could give my daughter away form her, talking food out of her mouth, and she deserved more than that. The first abortion I had was for me. I was young and scared. The second I had for my daughter. If I went back to her dad I would have eventually lost custody of her. If I tried to raise two kids alone, she would never get to go on a vacation, never get to go to an amusement park, never have nice things, we just couldn’t have afforded it . Today, I work full time as a high school teacher and I teach parenting classes. We discuss teen pregnancy and domestic violence in my classes. My experiences have given me an empathy and insight that help me so much when talking to teens. I am succeeding and thriving as a single parent. I am focused on me and I have educated myself on patterns of domestic violence and why they continue. I am determined to never get myself into another situation like that again. My daughter is succeeding and thriving as well. We even went to Disney World on her 6th birthday! To be honest, I don’t regret my first abortion at all. I know that I wouldn’t have the life I have now if I had a child at 16. I know that if I would have stayed in that abusive relationship, I might have even died. I do have mixed feeling about the second one. Just because I was older at the time. Sometimes I think it would be nice if my daughter had a sibling. But, I know that I would have just gone back to my abusive relationship and that I could have lost my daughter or my life. I don’t wish this path on anyone, and it would break my heart if my daughter had to go through the things I went through. But, I do believe in my heart that these were the decisions I had to make to get to the place I am now. For the first time in a long time, I am happy and safe, and so is my daughter.