From the time I was a little girl, all I had dreamed of was finding my prince charming and my happily ever after.
Unfortunately all those dreams came crashing down when in a blink of an eye I was violently raped by my fiancé. In that moment of violence my world was shattered.
You might be wondering how a fiancé can be guilty of rape. Well, “no” means “no” regardless of the relationship. Despite being engaged, as followers of Jesus Christ we decided to wait until marriage to have sex. I even remember him telling me “it will be difficult to wait, but it will be worth the wait.”
I had no idea that a man who vowed to always protect me would be capable of hurting me in such an intimate and profound way. This was a man who prayed with me for our future children and a man who read and quoted Scripture.
How could this same man inflict so much harm?
Everything was a blur, I knew I needed to seek medical treatment and found an Urgent Care close by where I relayed the harrowing details of the traumatic event, realizing that for the first time that my fiancés actions were the opposite of his words. This was difficult to believe that the man I had come to love was indeed no Prince Charming but instead a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The doctor’s response was even harder to digest as he placed his hand on my knee to comfort me and told me that by law he had to report this to authorities. He gave me the ultimatum to make the call to the police or else he would.
I couldn’t believe this was happening!
I sat by myself in that room waiting and wondering how my happily ever after turned so dark and violent? I went from being blissfully in love to feeling like the most unloved and alone woman in the world!
After the initial investigation, police escorted me to the hospital emergency center, where I found myself in some room, being prepared to have the rape kit performed. Most are completely unaware of the logistics of what this process involves. Some can’t even fathom what it might be like for a rape victim to endure a painful procedure like the kit after experiencing the initial trauma.
The purpose of this medical procedure is not only to retrieve DNA for potential criminal and legal action, but to also treat any exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
Even more harrowing, the kit is designed to end the potential of life born out of rape by issuing the morning after pill.
That was a lot for anyone to deal with, especially for someone who was all alone and scared. All rape victim faces unknowns, yet, I was laying on the table in that hospital room lots of thoughts ran through my mind. Thoughts propelled from the complexity of the fear of these unknowns.
I couldn’t understand how I got there? What did the future hold? I thought this man loved me, did his actions and violence mean I was unlovable? That’s what he had said after he raped me, that I was replaceable, forgettable, unworthy, and unlovable.
Was he right?
All I could do in that moment was sob as the future because my future looked so bleak.
Then the nurse posed an unthinkable question and quickly the future seemed to have some clarity. She asked if I could be pregnant.
I’ve been pro-life all my life, but in that moment, overcome with emotions, I finally understood why some rape victims would decide to have an abortion. And as a pro-life Christian, that thought shattered the rest of my heart. I realized how this one act of violence was impacting my beliefs.
In that moment, I remembered I was here for a purpose. My purpose was almost thwarted 60 years earlier when my grandfather took my grandma against her will to abort my father.
Their romance was something out of “West Side Story,” where the two were never supposed to mix. My grandfather being from a well-to-do Italian family and my grandma was a poor German girl with Jewish roots. My grandma would tell me stories of how charming he could be at times but that he had a vicious temper and quickly his words and actions could turn more sinister and even violent. She pleaded with him in the car on that day in 1958 as he had his arm outstretched across her chest to physically restrain her in the car.
Yet, she managed to get the door opened and tried to jump out of the car. He grabbed her by the back of the head and pulled her back in. She was willing to risk everything to save my father.
Her selfless and brave act of love spared my father’s life that day.
Remembering this family story while in that hospital room gave me a new perspective of real and raw truth: If my father had been aborted, I wouldn’t be alive today because abortion annihilates future generations.
The nurse strongly believed I was pregnant, so in a little plastic cup she offered me an out – one no one else had to know about. Not only was the emergency medicine used to treat exposure to any potential STD’s but so was also the morning after pill to end any potential pregnancy.
You see, even though my grandfather let my grandmother and father live, my father would never know that man. He was raised by a single mother. The story of his childhood always saddened me. I didn’t want to be a single mother – this was not what I had dreamed of.
But in that moment in the hospital, my faith overcame any fears. I truly believed that if there was a child from such a devastating event, that I would trust God. I knew He could conceive a purpose out of all this pain to fulfill His will, whatever that might be.
In a vulnerable state, I declined the morning after pill. I was crucified and mocked by the nurse and she even asked me, “Who would want a baby out of rape?”
Of course the answer to that question is “no one.” But we are not defined by what happens to us or by our past, we are defined by our worth in Jesus Christ, which His blood was shed for.
The nurse even threatened to physically assault me to ensure I wasn’t pregnant. I defied her again by closing my legs and telling her that we were through with the procedure. Even the police encouraged me to press charges before I left the state because if I was pregnant, this step could prevent my ex-fiancé from gaining custody of the child.
I left the hospital that night, risking my health and welfare in order to not jeopardize the potential of life, just as my grandma had done decades before.
I could have easily swallowed that morning after pill and told no one. If I would have done that and then later shared that I took it, I could have been attacked for taking a life that we never were even sure had existed. That’s part of the unknown – choosing life without compromise and in all circumstances.
The next weeks and several months would full of physical pain and anxiety as I waited to take a pregnancy test and receive the STD screening results. All tests results came back negative.
Regardless of what those tests results revealed, I chose life when I turned away the morning after pill under extreme emotional distress. It was a life that may have existed. I accepted God’s will, ready and willing to protect life no matter what the future held.
I know God is holder of all our futures. I also realized that through Scripture, as a child of God I am irreplaceable, unforgettable, worthy, and most importantly lovable; as are all God’s children.
As I reflect on that low valley I walked through eight years ago on this month, I look back over my life and see all the life-affirming choices that were made by my family.
I realize that those pro-life values and beliefs were deeply woven within the very core and finite fibers of my being and have made me into the woman I am today.
I am pro-life, pro-woman, pro-love, and I did choose life under the most unthinkable and traumatic circumstances while facing a world of unknowns. It’s also a choice I would make again.
Witlee Ethan is a speaker, advocate, survivor, and warrior in standing up in the fight against violence and injustice. Today she speaks on sexual and domestic violence, sanctity of life, suicide prevention, a variety of women’s issues, Faith and the Gospel, and other issues to spread awareness and share hope, faith, healing, and forgiveness with others.