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What God Intended? As a Victim and Survivor of Rape I am Appalled and Disgusted

4:37 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Cindy Harding for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This is one of a series of powerful stories from survivors of rape, you will find them all here.

Richard Mourock (Photo: Indiana State Government / Wikimedia Commons)

Twenty -two years ago I gave birth to my lovely daughter who was conceived as a result of rape. This rape was a “legitimate rape,” just as all rapes are. It was a horrible, degrading experience. I did not report it because I did not want to have to go through being treated like I was somehow to blame for it, I didn’t want to hear that I was the one in the wrong and the rapist was the victim as often happens.

As a victim and survivor of rape I am appalled and disgusted with the statements that have been made by members of the GOP and although it is a very difficult thing to talk about, especially to strangers, I decided that I could not, nor would I remain silent any longer.

Today, I wonder what kind of world we live in. Richard Mourdock, a U.S Senate candidate in Indiana, this week said, “if a woman gets pregnant as a result of rape, well it is what God intended.”

It is clear that these men have no clue what it is like to be assaulted in such a horrible disgusting way, to be raped. It is also clear that they have no idea what a woman struggles with after a rape, and then what she goes through if she becomes pregnant as a result of that rape.

I knew it was not my baby’s fault but I struggled with how to raise a child without spewing the hate I felt for that man. I thought about how my child would feel, and as a mother I hurt so much for my child and what feelings she would have to live with her entire life. I can tell you it hurts a whole hell of a lot.

There is nothing anyone can say that justifies the statements that have been made about sexual assault, rape, abortion, and women in the last month. I believe Richard Mourdock, Todd Aiken, and others like them who’ve spoken out against women in the last month do not belong in public office.

For GOP leaders to continue to endorse Mourdock and for them to say that the Senate needs Mourdock in office shows that they agree with the disgusting statements that have been made. They have no clue what a woman who has been raped goes through, and now they are showing that they don’t care what she has gone through.

These statements have set us back years, they are degrading to women, and they are part of the reason women do not report rape, and part of the reason I did not report my experience with rape. Women are sick of being treated like a criminal instead of a victim. We are sick of the shame and the blame.

I chose not to abort my pregnancy but I can find no fault with any woman that chooses an abortion if she becomes pregnant as a result of rape. That choice is essential.

I am a rape survivor, I am a strong, and I am a woman with a voice and a vote and I will do what I need to do to be heard and to alert people that the GOP platform is one that cares nothing for women nor their feelings. I will stand up and be heard, and I need you to stand with me.

Legitimate Rape? A Rape Victim and Counselor Reflects on Rape Culture Myths

11:08 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Kim Shults for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A caricature of Todd Akin

Todd Akin isn't the only one who believe myths about rape (Image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr)

“The events as you’ve described them, Kim, constitute a felony rape. If you do not make a statement, we will still proceed with prosecution and regard you as a hostile witness.”

I was 20 years old, on a semester leave from college. Those were the words of the police officer to me, in a hospital room, after I recounted what had happened to me a couple of days earlier.

It was my first interaction with the police, other than Officer Friendly visiting my elementary school class, or one of the officers my parents had befriended when they started a Neighborhood Watch program in the community where I was raised. Surely I could trust the police, I thought, to understand what had happened and to help me.

Although this was more than 20 years ago, I remember the moment vividly, because it was the acknowledgment, the naming, of something I had been struggling ferociously to reject: I was raped.

I desperately wanted it to be something else, like a misunderstanding between me and this man I’d been dating for a week or so. I felt locked in a life-or-death battle to deny this heinous violation, because it threatened to undo me–my sense of personal safety and well being, my mental health, my personhood.

In the years since, I’ve had lots of therapy, including group therapy with fellow survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I’ve volunteered at two rape crisis centers. One involved a speakers’ panel, visiting college classes, rehab facilities, police training sessions, even a group of men incarcerated for violent crimes including rape. At the other center, I served as hotline counselor and in-hospital victims’ advocate. Most of the other volunteers had stories of their own survival, and saw their volunteer efforts as a way to give back, to create and foster the same kind of community that enabled us to find our own voices and our sanity, to reclaim our selves and reassemble the pieces of our lives.

I rarely think about the assault and its aftermath anymore. The counseling, both giving and receiving, not to mention the tremendous education I got from the centers where I volunteered, helped make triggering a rare event for me. The experience became just one painful part of my life, rather than its central, agonizing, defining core. Occasionally (about every two years in the District of Columbia) I am called for jury duty. As part of voir dire, I have to tell the judge and attorneys that I have been the victim of a crime. When pressed for details, I recall them with startling clarity. My account is invariably met with compassion, followed by a quick dismissal.

Despite the officer’s words to me in that hospital room, the justice system and all those I encountered as I navigated my way through it seemed hell bent on proving that what I had experienced was not, in the words of Senate candidate Akin of Missouri, “legitimate rape.”

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Operating Under a Broken System: On Legitimate Abortions and Forced Triage

2:38 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Steph Herold and Megan Smith for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Cross-posted with permission from the Abortion Gang blog.


Poster: Break the Silence about abortions

Poster: Faviana Rodriguez / ihadanabortion.org

Coverage of Representative Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments have ignited a media storm. It’s clear that Akin’s remarks are more than just misinformation about reproductive health, and that they could have devastating and divisive policy implications for abortion rights and access. Akin’s comments have also sparked a conversation about abortion exceptions, “legitimate” reasons to have an abortion, or if we should even be talking about those reasons.

What do we know about abortion exceptions? We know that they make it harder for anyone to get an abortion, including each person who falls under exceptions such as rape, incest, or threat to the person’s life. Many of us in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements have written about and fought against the concept of “legitimate” or “acceptable” reasons to have an abortion. Of course we agree that no one should differentiate between an individual’s circumstances surrounding an abortion decision. But that doesn’t mean that we, and by extension, our movement, don’t also play into labelling some abortions as more necessary, important, or worthy of funding than others.

This happens most noticeably at the policy level. We fight for legislation that grants military insurance coverage for abortion in cases of rape instead of fighting for military insurance to cover abortion regardless of if it was an instance of rape or not. When state legislators try to ban later abortions, we trot out stories of people who’ve needed later abortions for fetal anomalies, not those who need later abortions for less sympathetic reasons. And, more recently, the progressive media is aghast that the GOP platform includes an anti-abortion amendment that doesn’t give an exception for rape, when really, shouldn’t we be up in arms that there is an anti-abortion amendment, period?

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“New Life” Trumps “Existing Life” in the Modern Republican Party

1:06 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Carole Joffe for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

“I believe that if you have to choose between new life and existing life, you should choose new life. The person who has had an opportunity to live at least has been given that gift by God and should make way for new life on earth.”

These are the words of the late Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the conservative Heritage Foundation and a driving force behind the creation of the movement we know today as the Religious Right. As the above quote implies, Weyrich had no patience for those in anti-choice circles who advocated for an abortion exception when the life of the pregnant woman was threatened.

This sentiment, voiced by Weyrich in 1984, has never entirely disappeared from some sectors of the anti-choice movement, though for quite some time, it was not a position widely spoken of. This is hardly surprising given that a huge majority of Americans support access to abortion in life-threatening situations.

However, the Republican Party’s official platform is one place where the absolute ban on any exceptions, including one to save a woman’s life, is retained.

 

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