I had an abortion when I was 18.

I am 36 now and I am still completely comfortable with my decision. At the time, I was a Sophomore in college and dating my first long-term boyfriend. We lived together and he didn’t work. He was sexually abusive, and coercion eventually became rape; he also showed signs that he was a potential child molester.

I found out I was pregnant shortly after my 18th birthday, and there was no discussion about it. He didn’t want a complicated life, and I didn’t want to be chained to a monster that might molest their own child. I went to the local clinic and this was before waiting periods, which was a relief. I remember doing the ultrasound and being forced to look at the image – a cluster of cells – which was the policy at the time. They told me about my “options” (adoption, staying pregnant, etc.) and I said no through them all. I went into the room alone. The nurse held my hand and I cried and screamed, a scream I didn’t know I had inside.

The process isn’t comfortable, but it’s not painful in the way you think. It’s a pressure inside where it shouldn’t be; it’s upsetting emotionally not physically. We drove home and I threw up, the procedure was so hard on my body, and started taking birth control on that day. We broke up about 6 months later, which was a blessing, since the abuse had been escalating. I never had children, and some days I feel sad that that child, who I aborted, was the only one I will ever have. But I know the most loving thing I could ever do was make sure that his/her father wasn’t a monster. I owed them that, and I will never apologize.

If I had had to “prove” I was being raped, I could have never had an abortion, because I could never have “proven” it, and if I had “accused” him of anything, I would have hell to pay when we were alone. Lawmakers don’t understand abuse. They don’t understand how hard it is to leave, not because you don’t want to, but because abuse doesn’t start until you’ve been socially isolated and financially crippled. You think it can’t happen to you, which is what everyone that it happens to think as well.