Compassion, Not Judgement, For Girls Like Me

I have been unwillingly sucked into a Facebook conversation with the wife of an old and dear friend.  She loudly condemns abortion, and calls everyone who has had one a “murderer.”

In that case, I guess I am a murderer in her eyes.

At age 16 I was drugged, dragged into a dark, damp basement, and brutally raped.  Then the same rapist started “sharing” me with his friends.  I finally escaped, onto the streets, where I traded my body for food, shelter, and sometimes a five dollar bill.  I was in a state of dissociation that has followed me down the years–45 years, to be exact–as of this coming April 22.

This righteous lady crows that she was also raped, and managed to have her baby, with the help of my friend.

Lucky lady.  I had no friends at the time, nor anywhere to turn.  I was homeless, and knew that my baby would be taken from me by the state if I had her.  I’m sure it was a “her.”

So I took the only path that I could see, and I had an abortion.

It was horrible.  It turned out to be on the the last day of the third month.  It traumatized everyone, including the doctor who did it.  On my follow-up visit to the hospital, he accused me of “having sex irresponsibly and then getting rid of it.”

I could not reply to him.  His judgmental attitude triggered feelings of my mother’s constant judgment and criticism, and it rendered me speechless.  I took his verbal thrashing and went away feeling like a kicked dog, along with the terrible sadness of pregnancy loss.  I had already felt the little flutter of life, I knew I had killed my baby, and I was being castigated for taking the only path open to me.

A few days postoperatively my breasts swelled up and started leaking fluid.  I made a panicked call to the medical resident who had performed the abortion.

“You’re lactating,” he said coldly.  “Buy a tight bra.”

“Lactating.”  I had to look that one up.  “Producing milk.”  Oh no.  More grief, fueled by the physical evidence of no baby.  And I bled profusely, because of the lateness of the abortion.  Money for pads there was none, so I relied on rags ripped from cloth things I found in the dumpsters, that I washed by hand without soap, because there was usually no soap in the public restrooms where I washed my hair in cold water, and rinsed out my underwear when they got too stiff to be comfortable.

“Tight bra?”  I didn’t have money for a 25 cent hamburger, let alone any kind of bra.  So I leaked and ached for a couple of weeks till it went away.

Oh God, those were horrible times.  And yet, they were nothing compared to the abuse that drove me from the parental “home.”

Sure, I could have gone to one of the “homes for unwed mothers.”  One or two of my classmates had suddenly disappeared, only to return several months later, depressed and bereft, stigmatized and avoided.  Our mothers strictly forbade us to socialize with them.  One of them whom I knew well suicided.  I could not bring myself to go that route.

Yes, I had an abortion.  I don’t regret it.  I’m sad about it, always will be, and wonder what would have happened if I had had my baby.  She would have been almost 45 now–what would she be doing?  She would not have had much of an upbringing, if I had kept her the way this lady did.  I had no resources myself.

Nowadays there are many options for girls who get pregnant: open adoptions, where the girl can participate in her child’s life, and in the adoptive parents’ lives, almost like another child in their family.  There is foster care, which can help a girl grow up while her baby is in a safe place (usually!).  There are many programs that support pregnant teens with educational and job skills while they complete their pregnancy, so that they can support themselves and their baby and not be dependent on their own families or the state for sustenance.  And of course there are the many grandparents–more grandparents than birth parents are willing to help their grandchildren through an accidental pregnancy and with helping to raise the child, for multiple reasons.

So I ask, don’t judge me for the decision I made as a child.  What I need is compassion.  Even if you are vehemently against abortion for your own reasons, and would never have an abortion in your own life–please be kind to those who are in desperate straits, and choose abortion because that is the only avenue they can see at the time.

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43 Comments

  1. you are so so right. we do what we gotta, even if we dont wanna.

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  2. That it was not the right time (and it so clearly wasn’t for you) is the only reason you need to give anyone ever. You made the decision that was the right one for you and no one has the right to judge that or second guess you. People now have no idea what it was like 45 years ago for ‘unwed mothers.’ I do. I hear you. Your FB friend needs to be unfriended and go talk to herself for a while.

    Reply
    • Bless you, Jan. You’ve helped me pop out of the dissociation and grief that accompanies the opening of this wound. I’m sorry you had to go through that too, but sometimes “it is what it is.”

      Reply
  3. Terri

     /  January 24, 2015

    Our lives are so alike…I’ve had 3 or 4, can’t even remember now. Survival does that to you…your memory gets distorted. Anyway…Been thinking about you and your need to make money. I’m in the same position…managed to become an environmental scientist. Did it for awhile, but crashed…can’t work like a ‘normal.’ For the last 7 years I’ve had an ad in the Craigslist Services as a professional technical/academic/resume writer. Basically I can write anything and you can also.
    Through this ad I’ve been able to earn from $5-12 thousand annually and am currently contracted with two consulting firms and just doing there writing. I don’t have to see anyone, hardly have to talk on the phone, don’t have to drive……and it is working well. Just an idea for you, sister in heart.

    Reply
    • Hey, we are sisters. I also do proofreading and copywriting. My problem is that my motivation level is so low, I can barely force myself out of bed, let alone write someone else’s stuff. I did just take on a volunteer editing/writing job for a cause I believe in, so I’ll see how that goes and hopefully it will energize me to branch out. Take care, wishing you success!

      Reply
  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  5. I cannot get over the abuse you went through even after the sexual assault! No one, NO ONE can judge another person for such a difficult decision…and you were just a kid!! That doctor and the other one who said to wear a tight bra…I could imagine terrible things happening to him…but I believe in karma. I avoid arguing with such people about topics like abortion, religion and politics BUT I sure will post something here. Thank you for sharing

    Reply
  6. This sad story is a good reminder that we should never judge anyone else, especially if we don’t know the whole story……..and I think we rarely do. So sorry you’ve had all this heartache, LAura.

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    • Thanks, Janet. This is just a snippet of the whole story. Meh. I told that lady that she should walk a mile in my shoes before issuing such blanket statements, but that didn’t go anywhere. I feel sorry for her, and next time I’m feeling judgmental I’ll think of this.

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  7. I feel so bad for all your pain, I would want to scream at anyone who would judge YOU. I almost feel like you should be wrapped in a baby blanket and cared for, you need the nourishment and comfort. I’m so sad that you didn’t have it. I have similar elements of being hurt emotionally in my background, There is NO comparison. No one should judge you, no one should judge anybody, unfortunately sometimes we do. Thanks for the wake up call.I FEEL that I hope you have loved ones that you trust in your life. You can read my blog if you want, you can trust me. hibernationnow.wordpress,com

    Reply
    • Awwwwww…..you are so kind and gentle. I’ll let your wrap me up in a baby blanket and rock me any time! I have to warn you, I’ll be certain to cry a lot, so have plenty of tissues around 🙂 May your kindness return to you tenfold. –Laura

      Reply
      • I’m what you call an Empath Intuitive, I get hurt Easily, Painfully too. I take on everyone elses pain and anything I feel is magnified x a million. I was called “over sensitive” all my life but I had to learn that I wasn’t too sensitive, people weren’t sensitive at all. So, please u can cry on my shoulder and I’ll probably join you. I am kind and gentle and most everyone thinks so with the exception of my sister, the only relationship I have that is not working. Blessings to you, I hope you sleep peacefully tonight.

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  8. My sister is bi polar too.

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  9. ?????????????????? don’t understand.

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  10. Dear friend
    The pain you must have felt sharing your story, overwhelming. I do appreciate you looking at girls today forced to live on the streets and want to help is anyway. As for judging I will not claim I’m quilt free but have taking on the attitude, walk a mile in my shoes. Only you and the Creator know what was write for you. The two only opinions that matter. One of the greatest gifts you have is having empathy after the treatment you received. You are a true survivor, you can conquer anything in your path.
    Hugs
    M

    Reply
  11. Judge. smudge. When she is perfect, she can judge. 😐

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  12. It’s curious you should write about this now. I had a memory of the time I was living in Yemen. There was a hospital in Hodeidah on the Red Sea that was staffed by Italian Doctors and American and Irish nuns as nurses. The Doctors did abortions at night in a brutal manner without washing hands or sterile technique. They left the bloody sheets and threw the fetuses in the trashcan for the nuns to find in the morning. Then the girls would come to the nuns because of bleeding and infections. The nuns were horrified.
    I also saw a circle of men three or four deep in the center of town one day. They were yelling and shaking their fists in the air. Naively I asked my husband what was going on. It was a stoning. A young girl was is the center. She had been whipped and the men would then kill her by stoning. Her crime was pregnancy before marriage.
    A girl could be raped or give in to natural urges and get pregnant. She had no recourse. I think most of them died but I don’t know. It’s all so secretive. I hate it that people condemn without looking at the situation. They live in a vacuum of religious beliefs. God would not condemn those girls and He wouldn’t condemn you. These are narrow, ugly people. Don’t listen. You are a good person. She is not. You have compassion. She does not.

    Reply
    • My goodness! You have had some amazing adventures, Anne! I hope you are writing a book of anecdotes about your travels and episodes like this one. As horrible as the night-time abortions sound, it also sounds like they saved some women from the horrible fate of being tortured to death for their “crimes”–the ones that survived the abortions, anyway.

      Your story clearly demonstrates the innate misogyny that crosses cultural boundaries: the Italian doctors’ brutality toward the women who needed their help, and the Yemenite men who tortured their own daughters to death…daughters who might very well have been raped by their own relatives…..in the name of their god, they commit such atrocities. I’m not sure anymore whether I believe in an Afterlife, but if there is one, those bastards will have a lot of accounts to be settled. Blessings, Anne! Hope I get to see you sometime! Laura

      Reply
  13. It’s heartbreaking, but the only truth I know is that we can only make the best decision we can in that one moment. It is only those who have no compassion, no imagination and no beating heart who can judge and condemn.
    My heart bleeds for the pain, suffering and loneliness you had to endure.
    We are told we must forgive our transgressors…I wish it were that simple. I have some work to do obviously.
    Bless you Laura. You are a stronger person than I.
    Blessings, Susan 💖

    Reply
    • What’s interesting is that in Judaism, forgiving transgressors only applies if the transgressor repents and asks forgiveness. If not, we are also forbidden to “hate your fellow in your heart.” This means that we have to at least tell the person that we were wounded by their words or actions. Once we do that, the ball is in their court. They have now got the choice to apologize and make amends, to decide not to, to involve a third person to help work things out, or other means of finding resolution. If the transgressor decides not to engage, then it is between them and Heaven, and it’s up to the injured party to let go of any residual hatred.

      This does not apply to actual crimes, which must be handed over to the courts.

      In any case it’s still not simple!

      Reply
      • My oath its not simple… I still think there are times for “an eye for an eye”… perhaps the Macabees had it right. (Too much TV perhaps,)

        Reply
  14. Kelley

     /  January 25, 2015

    Hi Laura
    I’ve been reading your posts for a while now, and relating to so much of what you say. Like Terri, we seem to be sisters.
    I too lived on the streets as a teen and got pregnant at 16, not by a rapist (although that also happened), but a boy whose grandparents had taken me in. I wanted to do the right thing, so I asked my parents to dinner and my boyfriend asked for my hand in marriage. I wanted to start the rest of my life the right way, even though my mom was a narcissist and my father was sweet but absent.
    Needless to say, that conversation didn’t go well. My father said no. My boyfriend asked what he’d done wrong and my father came back with, “what have you done right?”
    That was the end of that. I went home with my parents when they offered.
    Big mistake. I do regret my abortion. My mother wouldn’t let me “ruin” my life by having a child. She set up an appointment to “see if” abortion was the right thing to do (I’d argued for keeping my baby), but the procedure had to be done out of town because I was so close to the cutoff date that the local clinic couldn’t get me in soon enough. When they did the procedure–what was I going to do, live on the streets with a baby? God knows I barely made it through by myself–I was a month farther along than they’d thought and I saw my baby boy sucked out of me and into a big acrylic box.
    Everyone was shocked and a nurse quickly pushed the box out of the room. I was back on the streets within the week, this time by my choice. I couldn’t face my mother or the fact that I’d killed my baby so I drank. A lot. Self medicating, I found out years later when I was diagnosed BiPolar.
    Yep. We have a lot in common.

    Reply
    • Oh Kelley, you’ve had such a rough time! I cried when I read about your horrible abortion experience. And you wanted the baby, and you had to watch them take it away! I don’t think I could have lived through that, no way. It’s no wonder you started drinking! Yes, it sounds like the streets were much kinder than your “home,” as awful as the streets can be, are.

      We should have a meeting of the Wounded Warriors Society. I’m only half joking here…

      Reply
  15. Kelley

     /  January 25, 2015

    Oh, and my father passed away from a pulmonary embolism after the hip surgery he needed when he fell in the nursing home two years ago. He was a wonderful, amazing man who suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. My mother treated him like your mother treated your father. It was so hard to watch. I used to sneak him out of the house or sign him out of the home to let him have some peace and attention. I just want you to know that your posts have helped me to process my grief.
    Thank you for writing this blog. I’m sure I’m not the only one you’ve helped. May G-d bless you and keep you safe.

    Reply
    • Wow. I’m so glad that somebody is benefiting from my public cryings-out. Sometimes I feel like a jerk, just letting it all hang out here; but if you are finding help in your grieving process, I feel blessed to be able to produce these ragged-edged wanderings. Thank you so much for telling me. It means a lot.

      My mother lives about 1/4 mile from me by car, closer by a mountain path…I stay out of her way. She hastened my father’s demise, and I will never forgive her for that, even though he was in terrible physical pain and I’m glad he’s relieved of his broken body and mind. She has finally got the picture that I avoid her like the plague, and although she of course blames me for not paying attention to her, she has learned that I am not pleasant to be around (in her presence!) and has learned to avoid me as well. Good riddance, I say!

      Blessings back to you, for strength to get through this part of life, and to fulfill your fondest dreams. ❤

      Reply
  16. People sell their kids, in rural Asia still a female child can be killed on birth. These are the limits of desperation not some cruel and violent actions. How can we be sure that we do not do the same, if we are placed in same situation?

    We are all brave in other people’s misfortunes. Laura, what happened with you was your karmic journey. No one can judge you for that.

    The Lord loves you for whatever you are.

    Be blessed always and know that you are a love child of God

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Ashu. That’s what my guruji told me. I absolutely believe it, and in a future post–the near future, I hope–I will explain my karmic root according to ancient Jewish beliefs. My heart breaks for the situation of Asian mothers who are forced to let their girl children be sold into slavery, or killed. Can you explain here why that is? I’ve had it explained to me, but I think if you explained to our blog members, it would be more real.

      Blessings back to you, and I am saving up for that Mahindra (Jeep to Westerners) and driver! I have long thought of actually buying a Mahindra and going into the oxcart villages to do some simple pediatrics, but still I would need a driver/translator, since I don’t even speak Hindi, let alone Malayalam or Tamil! But as you say, the Lord has plans, and I don’t yet know what they are. But I can send up my dreams and desires, and He will sort it all out for me.

      Much love to you, Ashu, and may you be blessing in all things…….Om Shanthi–Laura (Libi to my Indian friends–I don’t know why, but they all call me that–it means “my heart” in Hebrew, so they can keep calling me that 😀 )

      Reply

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