OpinionWed Jan 6, 2016 - 12:36 pm EST
I was forced to devise a parenting plan with my rapist
January 6, 2016 (Savethe1) -- During Christmas break of my Sophomore year, at age 16, I stayed with my 24 year old 2ndcousin. One night, she had a 19 year old guy come over who she’d met in a chat room. Everyone was drinking, and I believe that our drinks must have been drugged. I briefly "came to" in the basement while the guy was raping me and then must have passed out again. When I awoke, I was alone. I ran upstairs to get my cousin, but the guy was still there and I was frozen. Once I had the opportunity to speak with my cousin, I asked her what had happened, but she didn’t remember anything either.
The upcoming weeks after being raped were quite disastrous. I had vowed to myself not to tell anyone. I felt like trash. I felt disgusting. I felt like I deserved it, and that nobody would believe me anyway.
A couple of weeks later, after realizing that I had missed my period, I decided to take a pregnancy test. The pregnancy test was immediately positive. I was in disbelief. I felt ashamed and sick, as my child’s father was a rapist. I wasn't sexually active, so I knew that was the situation I was facing – that I was pregnant from rape.
Abortion never crossed my mind. I had a Christian upbringing and I was always taught that children are a blessing, so even though I was facing this pregnancy by rape, I actually became excited about having a baby. However, when I told my cousin I was pregnant, she immediately told me that I need to get an abortion.
My parents were upset of course. I’d never seen my father cry until I told him I’d been raped and that I was pregnant. He cried like a baby, then went through an angry period. He took me to the police station, but they just said it was too late for a rape kit and they weren’t going to do anything since I was 16 and they said they rarely get convictions under such circumstances.
Over the course of my pregnancy, especially during the summer of 2004 leading up to the birth of my son, I had people call and ask me if I was giving my son up for adoption. My mom would answer the phone and respond with “Baby not for sale.” My parents and I never discussed adoption -- it was just assumed that I would keep my son.
After a lengthy labor with no pain medication, I gave birth to my son Monday, September 27th at 2:57 pm. The process of the birth was both joyful and scary at the same time. My sister held one hand and my mom the other as I gave birth to my son. I instantly felt like he was a part of me, he was beautiful and I loved him.
While in the hospital, I called my grandma and grandpa and I remember just crying and my grandma asking why I was crying. I told her that I felt like I had let them down, still blaming myself for being raped, giving birth as a teen mom out of a rape. She reassured me, saying, “It’ll be okay dear. You don’t need to cry.”
When I came home from the hospital, life sort of proceeded as normal -- as normal as it could proceed, being a teenage mom. It wasn't until after my son was born that I began to dwell on the rape. The first few weeks of being a mom were great, but once I went back to school, it got a lot more challenging. I had to work full-time, be a mom full time, and go to school part-time.
When I went back to school and knew that I had to find daycare for my son, I applied for daycare assistance, as well as food stamps and WIC through the county. In January, 2005, because I was actively getting assistance and I was now over the age of 18, I was forced by the state of Wisconsin to pursue child support. I was absolutely terrified! I was told that he had just as much right to my son as any other single father because our case was “he said/she said” and they were not going to treat our case as a rape case. I begged and pleaded to not have State aid, but they said even if I chose to discontinue the State aid that he still had rights.
I decided to do what I thought was right, and was going to ultimately protect my son in the end and followed all court documentation to a “T”. I was so scared and worried that if I had one small mess up, then the rapist would swoop in and get full rights to my son. I also often feared that he would try to kidnap him as well, so I watched my son like a hawk and made absolutely sure that everyone at daycare knew who could pick up my son and only people on that list could pick him up.
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In early 2007, the courts ultimately forced me to start building a relationship with my son’s biological father. Under court order, I had to meet the man who raped me in Portage, WI at the Columbia County Health and Human Services building for court supervised mediation where they forced me to devise a parenting plan with my rapist, as he was granted joint custody by the state of Wisconsin. The stated goal was to build up to 50/50 time. The mediator agreed with my pleas that we start off slowly by having an initial meeting between the parents, then gradually developing a relationship between my son and my rapist. At the initial meeting, I was horrified as we had to exchange phone numbers and emails.
Over the next few weeks, the rapist and I would chat by Yahoo messenger here and there, along with some phone calls, as I was under court order to do. I was so scared. To this day, I still cannot believe that the Court of Law didn't protect me from him. I feel like the justice system failed me and that they wouldn’t even consider that I was raped. There was absolutely no hearing before the Court on this issue. It just wasn’t even allowed.
I had to meet my rapist face to face, and parenting visits began. After about 10 of these visits, something changed in my life which caused the rapist to back down – I got engaged. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but he just stopped all visits after I told him at our last mediation in March, 2006 that I was engaged. Maybe he realized that he wouldn’t be able to manipulate or control me because there was now another man involved. Maybe he had just been curious to meet his biological son. Maybe his parents had been the ones pushing for the visits. I don’t know, but I was just relieved it stopped!
However, the fact remains that I was failed by the court system. I shouldn't have had to tell him I was engaged. I should have been protected by the court of law. I was raped! I feel like they protected the rapist better than they protected me. Ten years later, it still makes me literally sick, and I fill with panic thinking that I was forced to interact with him. I would cry and be on nerves end for days before I would have to see him, or know that I would have to talk to him.
Because of the rape, the trauma of having to deal with my son’s biological father, and fighting so hard and ferociously to protect my son, I now suffer from PTSD. I deal with my trauma on a daily basis. It goes deeper than just being raped. The interaction I was forced to have with the rapist, feeling like I had to get married young to protect my son -- it didn't just affect me, it affected my son as well. With the rapists’ selfish actions, it turned my life upside down. Thankfully, my husband has been a good father to my son, and my son has no knowledge or memory of the visits with the man who raped me.
I’m sharing my story now because I was inspired by a recent story out of St. Louis of another woman who became pregnant by rape. First of all, I want people to know that a child conceived in rape is a blessing and is worthy of love. Secondly, I want to bring awareness to the plight of women who are raped and choose to parent their child. The law needs to be changed in Wisconsin. No woman should be put in a position that if she chooses to keep her child, she would have to co-parent with her rapist. I want to be available to testify before legislatures to make sure this never happens to another woman again.
AM is a mother, currently on long-term disability due to PTSD, residing in the Madison, Wisconsin area, and a blogger for Save The 1. Her goal is to become more involved with Hope After Rape Conception -- to testify before legislatures. Her son is the only child she’s ever had. Reprinted with permission from Save the 1.