Christina P., Rape Survivor Mother Who Raised Her Child

Shortly after I graduated from High School, I found myself in the company of some people I didn’t really know. My friend and I had gone to hang out with them at a friends apartment. I was 18 and shouldn’t have been where I was and shouldn’t have been drinking, since I wasn’t old enough. But often at this age, we make impulsive choices we can’t take back.

I was still a virgin and despite it being 1970 and the free love movement, I had decided to wait for marriage, a few years earlier. Despite the plans I made, drinking with strangers derailed them.

After we got there an older guy poured me a glass of wine. I had dabbled in under age drinking a few times, my Senior year of high school, so having a glass of wine didn’t seem like a big deal. It was a good way to numb my mind from some things that were going on at home, besides it was “fun.” I never thought about someone slipping something into my drink.

When a battery powered radio didn’t produce the tunes we wanted to hear, the older guy sent my friend and another guy to walk to the store for a new battery, leaving me alone with him. While they were gone, I apparently passed out. My friend returned to find me naked on the bathroom floor. I had been raped and didn’t really know what had happened. He tried to make it appear I was a willing participant although I could barely stand and my speech was slurred.

Several months went by and I had missed a few periods. However, there was a bigger problem, my dad, who had heart problems was scheduled to have open heart surgery so I kept silent. My mother, who was diabetic and
father with a bad heart knew nothing of the fear and shame I was dealing with. I went to visit my grandmother and cousins out of state shortly after the rape. My grandmother was very loving and kind….my cousin was very supportive, too. I told both of them what had happened. My grandmother would have let me stay with her, but with my father’s upcoming surgery, I decided to go home.

Shortly after I came home, I celebrated my 19th birthday. I had enrolled in Jr. College with my dad’s help and lived my life as if nothing had changed. Four days after my birthday, my dad had the surgery and by the next day he was dead.

Another friend had offered to take me to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test the week after my dad was buried. Needless to say, the pregnancy test came back positive. The first thing PP offered me was a way to “solve my problem.” They told me if I had the money, they could send me to California for an abortion. They never asked if the rape was reported. Although I didn’t know much about abortion, it didn’t sound right.

My brother was with me when I told my mom. It was a huge shock to her. She never left my side. Her love and support helped me through a very hard time in my life.

The only option I thought available was to go the County Hospital for prenatal care. They turned me down, I didn’t qualify because of my age and being a student, they said my parents were responsible. I cried and felt like I wanted to die…why wasn’t it me, instead of my father?

My mother, knew a woman from church who was on the board of directors or worked for St. Elizabeth of Hungary clinic. She talked to her about my situation. I think her name was Helen…she was an answer to prayer.

St. Elizabeth offered health care for those who didn’t qualify for county assistance, didn’t have insurance or didn’t have the money. That would be me.

At St. Elizabeth Clinic, they offered pre-natal care and counseling. REAL counseling, which helped me to realize it wasn’t my fault and that even if I couldn’t care for a baby, someone else could and would love the baby with all their heart. For less than it would have cost to get the abortion, I had the best care and delivered the baby girl at a local
Catholic Hospital. It was my plan to give my baby girl up for adoption, just as many other young girls did at that time. I had been counseled and felt comfortable about giving up my baby to a loving couple.

The day after she came into the world, I was supposed to sign the adoption papers, but first I asked to see her. After I held her in my arms and talked to my mom, I changed my mind. The decision to keep her was based on the fact that I had enough “loss” and didn’t think I could handle any more. My mother was very supportive and said she would accept whatever I decided. I looked into my baby girls eyes and said, I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it together.

42 years have passed. Because of that little girl, I was able to get into a nursing program that was set up for single mothers and became an LPN. I worked at the same County Hospital that couldn’t help me, where I eventually met my now husband. My little girl was 10, when we met and he has been her father ever since.

Planting a seed, doesn’t make someone a father. A man who loves and cares for a child…sits up with her when sick, goes to every baseball game and helps her buy her first car, the man who nurtures and grows the child, that would be the father.

My little girl now has 2 children of her own. She has made a difference in this world, in her career in public service. I cannot imagine life without her or our grandchildren. I have never regretted my decision to keep my baby, conceived in rape. Every life is precious. Each person has a God given potential, unique to only them. Choosing life is never the wrong decision.

Sixteen years after I had my first baby, I had another little girl. I love them both the same, just as my husband loves them both the same. There is not difference in our love for them.

“You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.” ― Fulton J. Sheen