Monday, May 14, 2007

Untitled…

This past Saturday I had a happening that I am struggling to deal with.

A 14 year old young woman I know told me that she had been raped.

She related that she went home after and then noticed that she was bleeding.

She then went to the hospital where she was examined. She was offered counseling and testing…and comfort in the arms of nurses and a doctor.

Then she was sent home.

Six days later we met for a Saturday outing.

When she told me I was horrified for her…deflated because this young woman has already been through a lot of shit in her life...and angry that rape was now being added to a list that reads like an indictment of our society’s devaluing of human dignity and life.

Then I asked her if she was offered emergency contraception.

She wasn’t.

I asked if she knew what emergency contraception is.

She did, but admitted that she was too upset to even think about asking for it.

That’s when I got angry.

As I drove her to Planned Parenthood…I offered that as a way to get a handle on her options and she accepted…my blood pressure shot through the roof.

A 14 year old was raped…she did the right thing and went to the hospital…she was offered tests and counseling…but she wasn’t offered emergency contraception.

As a sister in the struggle I am beyond words.

A 14 year old was raped and she wasn’t offered the emergency contraception I have personally spent time working to make available to all women who find themselves in such situations.

I certainly want 14 year old rape victims to be given the option.

I sure as shit wanted the young woman in question to have been.

When we arrived at Planned Parenthood we got another dose of reality. It was too late for emergency contraception but too early to find out if the monster who raped her had also gotten her pregnant.

With an appointment having been set we left…walked out and got into my car…drove past the crowd of anti-choice protesters who chose that moment to thrust dead baby pictures at my window…and out onto the road.

I drove…and then I pulled over, turned and folded her into my arms.

We wept…rocking back and forth on the side of the road...and I have no idea who was comforting whom.

The thing is...this young woman is strength.

That 14 year old is the very definition of what strength is.

But I am struggling to turn rage back into usable energy…frustration into action.

Beyond the rhetoric and policy debates over emergency contraception there are clients and patients.

Beyond all the political bullshit there are women who deserve the respect of choice.

Now I know that there are those who speak of a world where emergency contraception is never necessary.

But for those of us who live in the real world choice is very necessary.

In this specific case, a lack of choice has a 14 year old rape victim counting days and praying for her menstrual cycle to come early…all while trying to come to terms with having been raped in the first place.

I am struggling to come to terms with that.

Struggling to put these feelings into words that motivate something…anything…some kind of understanding that women’s lives are involved in this shit! Women with hopes and dreams and fears who are being denied choices because of someone else’s feelings on the issue of emergency contraception…because of misinformation about the issue of emergency contraception...

…because some seek dominion through this issue of emergency contraception.

And I just can’t make myself come to terms with that.

59 comments:

Bomboniera said...

Shit.

I don't know what else to say except that you're an amazing woman.

EverydaySuperGoddess said...

I'm so sorry. About all of it. Please send my love to your friend.

In you, ABB, she has one deeply human and also fearsomely fierce champion on her side.

And that's no small something.

thatfarmgirl said...

Wow. That's wretched. Perhaps it was ignorance/oversight? I'm involved in safe haven advocacy in my state and during a trip to the ER a month ago (I'm fine) I decided to quiz the ER workers about what they'd do if I had shown up with a 2-day-old baby I wanted to hand over. They looked at me like I had a third eye. I'm hoping your situation was the same.

Lina said...

That is absolutely. fucking. disgusting. I would make a formal complain, for all the good it would do.
I hope she's ok and glad she's got a strong woman to support her through this.
Fuck, it's bad enough that happening to her without being let down like that.

Travis said...

Hugs and tears to both of you.

I can't get my mind wrapped around it either.

Travis

bfp said...

thank god she had somebody there with her--that she doesn't have to be *that* strong.

a side question--would she be able to get it anyway being so young? I know there was some type of wrangling over the age thing--that it could only be over the counter for 18 and older or something, so i'm just wondering what the final "solution" was...

bfp said...

btw, I'm praying for the both of you and for her especially that things turn out the way she wants and needs them to.

Anonymous said...

This isn't about the Right to Life. This about a young woman who did not asked to be raped, who did not ask nor want for sexual intercourse (Unwanted in this case). This is what pro-lifers need to understand. Half of the fight for emergency contraceptive and for abortion rights is for women like your young friend. Women who are not ready for a child. Women who are not ready to accept a child. Women who do not want children yet. Women who did not ask for sexual intercourse.

This isn't about women who just don't want a child and are't willing to use contraceptive or 'forget'. This is about a child, unwilling, unwtanting.. unnecessary being forced to accept something she is not ready to deal with.

It makes me sick and makes me want to fight all the more for a women's right.

Katchen said...

I have no words for this; I'll be thinking of you both (and wishing really hard).

karl said...

The same people who deny women the right to contraception are the same people who complain about "teenage moms on welfare".

Kamrin said...

That is just terrible! I am glad you were there for her. I am sad that many in society havn't been.

Anonymous said...

I was just lurking by as I usually do, and this post caught me right in my chest. It's a rare thing indeed for me to comment on a blog these days, but as someone who was once a teenage girl praying for a period while coming to terms with rape, I wanted to tell you what an amazing thing it is that you're fighting alongside this young woman. I'm appalled that this is happening to her, or to anyone, and praying my hardest she comes through it alright.

dcsavvystar said...

wow. this post is heart breaking. rape is by far the most violative crime, but it is often treated as though it is petty theft. it's sad how our issues aren't addressed and handled accurately. thanks for the post; it has given me the opportunity to take off my rose colored glasses and see the reality of the shortcomings of our system.

Anonymous said...

Goddammit. I'm so sorry, and so angry with you, though I know there aren't words to convey what you or she is feeling right now. I'm wondering if they even offered her the option of reporting it to the police, not that that's always an option (or one that girls can handle at moments like that). I'm glad she has someone like you she can talk to.

Betsy

pdxprofessor said...

lord ha' mercy. a 14-year old girl? strength to her and to you. as weird as it sounds, i'll be praying for her period to come early. thank you for doing what you do. not enough of us do and it's inspiring to hear you talk about your work, as frustrating and heartbreaking as it is. stay strong. we need you.

Josh said...

I sincerely hope your young friend is able to recover, and that she is not pregnant.

As for the protesters...

It's about control. They make a lot of noise, but they don't really believe what they're saying--they don't have funerals when they miscarry, and they certainly would take emergency contraception after being raped.

They need to shut up about the symptoms of problems and start addressing the causes.

sly civilian said...

'I drove…and then I pulled over, turned and folded her into my arms.

We wept…rocking back and forth on the side of the road...and I have no idea who was comforting whom'

That really struck me. There's grace in that moment, even in the midst of such pain. My prayers are with you both.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being there for that girl. It takes strength to stand up for people in these situations.

B. Kitty said...

Shark,

As always, you are an inspiration.

Is there anything that we the public can do to assist you in your fight to ensure that emergency contraception can be offered? Letters to write or calls to make?

Point us in the right direction, please.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance that people display makes me want to march down to D. C. and kick some of those anit-choice politicians in the nuts. The fact that men make decisions on how women treat there bodies is stupid and illogical in the first place. I really can't relate to what your going through, but as long as you hang tough, things might just work out.

Matt said...

I have no faith in society anymore...

Maya's Granny said...

I am so angry I could just spit. And so sad I don't know what to do with that emotion, either. I am so glad that your young friend had you, so sorry that she has had so much pain in her life. I find it hard to understand how the hospital could not offer her emergency contraception. How they could be so calous and unfeeling and just plain small minded and cold hearted.

Not Looking, Just Finding said...

I was fortunate.

I was too young to get pregnant.

They didn't do much that would get me pregnant anyway.

They just did everything else.

Thank you for working so hard, channeling your outrage into a thankless job that is making a difference...however small it may feel sometimes.

Some of us just appreciate the effort. Remember, thanks to people like you, people like me sleep better at night...knowing that you're looking out for the other damaged and wounded women.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

If you feel up to it go to the hospital that did such a poor job and get answers, get their act in shape for the next...

Ig-meister said...

You should -not- come to terms with it. You should be pissing mad every time you think about it.

I don't have kids but I have a goddaughter. If anyone ever touched her and I got to the scumbag before he father did [not good, not good at all], he'd be my prime candidate for meeting oncoming traffic.

The really bad part though is that the medical help that this girl received was shamefully, offensively inadequate. In this kind of situation an emergency contraceptive should be part of the basic treatment plan. Why did that not happen here? Do the doctor and nurse really believe a child should bear the responsibility of a rape-induced pregnancy? Are they really so far removed from the world?

The post does not mention it so I don't know if it happened or not. But the doctor should also have called the police to take the girl's statement. I have a sinking feeling they did not even do that.

What kind of country do you live in?

The treatment of abused women is simply appaling. I'm actually ashamed to be a member of the species.

Anonymous said...

What about the people at the hospital... did they "forget" on purpose? Was it the only time they "forgot" to give a rape victim an emergency contraception?

storm indigo said...

Even more appalling is the fact that if given a prescription, a pharmacist is able to refuse to fill it based on their presonal beliefs. There are vast areas in this country where doctors won't offer or write the prescription and pharmicists won't fill them. Talk about adding insult to injury.

It is so demoralizing and insulting. In 2007, women are still fighting for power over what happens to our own bodies.

I have been where that young woman is and for a while she may feel that she may actually fall apart from the pain. I did not have anyone like you in my corner.

peace to you both...i share your anger and tears as well.

Stella said...

Thank you, bitch. All my thoughts and prayers today go to your girl. I hope you'll continue to take care of this poor child.

Please send this beautiful piece of writing far and wide for publication.

Anonymous said...

Where are her parents and who are you to be taking a 14 yo to PP?

proudprogressive said...

Well, Shark Fu i guess you said it all. Is so galling that emergency contraception is used as a political tool to oppress women, girls of all ages. Galling that people oppress others,simply because their personal beliefs which interfere with common sense.

In other words IF they don't want emergency contraception don't have it. BUT ALL WOMEN MUST BE OFFERED THAT MEDICAL OPTION - its their birthright. Dammit !


I feel the outrage too. This young girl is lucky to have come to know you. And yes it very hard to be so infuriated, dealing with the terminally ignorant and make some good come out of it. Channelling that anger is a life long challenge for me. Carry on Sister, we are more untited in our progressive views then we know. The pendulum has got to swing back to common sense, and humanism,science and progress..Its just got to and we will not stop or be silent until it does.

peace, PP

Anonymous said...

Yeah the story sucks but you are amazing. Keep it up! You are making a difference.

Anonymous said...

wow i agree you are amazing i wish i knew somebody as caring as you


- L strong

turnet@rogers.com said...

can we have an update on this girls status? was there any action taken against anyone? The monster? anyone?

Anonymous said...

---there are a lot of people out there that need to open their eyes... un-biased counseling should be as mandatory as as the examination.
I'm proud of you for this post.

Lindsay Beyerstein said...

What a heartbreaking story. I hope your friend is okay. She's lucky to have a supportive adult like you to help her.

Anonymous said...

I think you should send this to the P.D. as an editorial or letter to the editor. I am sorry for your friend--and you're right about the assholes who use women's bodies for their personal power trip. take care.

Anonymous said...

She's lucky to have you in her life.

Andy Dabydeen said...

Sometimes, stories like this makes me want to rail against the world with my fists. A 14-year-old shouldn't ever have to deal with shit like this.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

One of my college students, a black woman who is really trying to do the right thing, raising two children on her own, went to Planned Parenthood in Houston and asked to have her tubes tied. She told me that they told her after the third child they would be happy to provide the service.

I have a law school girlfriend who is quite white who has used Planned Parenthood twice for abortion services. She votes Republican every chance she gets.

I am working to get a non-profit started to help counsel my inner city college students who are literally from all over the world, all over the socio-eco-politico-religio-cultural thing about the availability of options for women. They don't know that emergency contraception is endangered. They don't know that pharmacies are not filling pills.

God bless you and I am glad you are there for that young woman. I could use your help in my classroom.

bug_girl said...

I'm so thankful that you were there for her.

and so angry she had to go through this.

Anonymous said...

Emotional appeal doesn't change the fact that abortion is murder of a human life. The rapist should be killed for what he did, but the child has done absolutely nothing, and is therefore innocent: death is not just in this case.

Anonymous said...

There are no words to describe how heartbroken and furious this story makes me. Thank God you are there to help this poor girl.

Christopher said...

Your compassion for young women like this is inspiring. I'll be thinking about both of you, sending you some extra strength to get through...please keep us up-to-date on her situation.

If I were finished with my degree, I'd want to take the Missouri Bar Exam just to come out there and sue the bejeezus out of that hospital for her. That is a major breach of their duty of care, resulting in possible physical damage and definite mental distress. I hate how litigious we are as a society, even as a future lawyer, but sometimes suing the shit out of folks is the only way to get them to do their damn job properly.

Kathryn said...

I have to echo other commenters and say that you are amazing, and thank you for being there for the 14yo, especially when the doctors and nurses weren't. You'll both be in my thoughts.

tubesy said...

I'm so sorry, ABB. I'm glad for your friend that she was able to talk to you, and I know that your help and your outrage on her behalf was of some comfort to her. I'll be thinking of her in the next days.

Sara said...

Well, at least she has you.

Meanwhile, please tell me they gave her an AIDS test. And please tell me someone showed interest in catching and prosecuting the rapist, though I would certainly understand if the girl opted out of pursuing that herself.

Poor little thing.

Anonymous said...

An absolute nightmare, what's happening to this country?

belledame222 said...

god, this is so wretched. thank you for posting it.

first anon, you stupid fuck: if they'd given her emergency contraception there wouldn't BE a "baby," that's the whole frigging point. let's just pray to your God or someone's that there isn't one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking care of this girl. And thank you for sharing your experiences. You're one of the good ones.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a really sad story and something needs to change. But is the solution just to hand out emergency contraception? If this were to take place think of all the low lifes that would abuse another system and most likely lie about being rape just to get free morning after pill. The issues never stop. I hope for the best for this strong you woman

Chicago Socialista said...

I'm so angry this happened to that young girl. I'm REALLY FVCKING ANGRY that the hospital did not bother to offer her EC.

I'm always reminded, in too many sad ways, how lucky I am that I left the miserable state of MO and the fvckwit conservatives that ruin sh!t there.

Prayers to you both...

Steven said...

My mother was a victim of rape when she was 15 years old. That was 30 years ago. I can only imagine the pain and suffering and feeling of unfairness she must have felt, like this unfortunate 14 year-old. We both thanked God, though, when I turned 30 this year...

Meghan said...

What an abhorrent failure of our medical system. She should have been offered Emergency contraception.

I am glad that she has you to advocate for her.

In the mean time I will pray that she doesn't have to deal with the pain of an unwanted pregnancy in addition to dealing with the trauma of what she has been through. Poor sweet girl.

The Angry Independent said...

I came in late on this one...

I know this is a message about contraception. blah blah.... But one thing about these kinds of stories that pisses me off is the lack of reporting...or seemingly, the lack of even an instinct to report it.

This is why so many of these cases go unreported/unsolved....and lets the Monster know that "well.... I was not caught this time... I can go ahead and do it again to someone else". In fact, he probably did this to someone else prior to attacking this 14 year old.

While everyone was doing all the running around mentioned above, did anyone think to contact Police?
The offender is now free to come back and do it again. And God forbid if the suspect is an adult who she has to listen to or live with or put her trust in... THIS WILL KEEP HAPPENING...if that's the case.

Did the Doctors do a crime test????? WTF!!!!!!!!!!!

Why no police report? I think in cases of a minor...any adults involved in the response (including the Doctors) should be required to contact police for an investigation. And I thought that was already required for hospitals...

But these kinds of stories raise my blood pressure....

The beginning of the message said that she went home afterwards... and later decided to take action after complications???????

Why didn't she call police?

Then the first thing she was asked (i'm assuming) by a trusted adult was if the hospital offered her emergency contraception & if she knew what that was?????? WTF!!!!

Yes...that's a very important question...I will concede that.. But it should not have been the most pressing issue at that very moment.

Why wasn't she asked if she reported it to police so that something more could be done about the asshole who raped her? Why wasn't she asked if the suspect was under arrest or whether anyone was looking for him? That should have been the first question... then we could move to the contraception and all the rest.

Or will she be one of these young women who doesn't press charges when they are raped?????

*Now I have a migraine*

Amadi said...

To Anonymous @1:11 p.m. --

You actually think that women will lie about rape for free EC? Do you have any idea what happens when you go to an ER and say that you've been raped? Do you really think that there are women who will go the lengths of having a humiliating and painful examination of their bodies, complete with swabs, scrapings, combings and photographs and the barrage of questions and interviews in order to get a dosage of a medication that is available over the counter for less than the cost of dinner out?

And are you under the impression that ER visits for rape victims are free, so that this would somehow be more economically feasible than buying EC?

And do you believe that there are no ramifications for filing a false report for rape, so that any woman who wanted to do this could, for kicks?

To be kind, you're nuts. And no woman should be denied EC after a rape on the basis of nonsense "what if" scenarios dreamed up by people who have no grasp on logic.

Ant Annie said...

Oh, ABB, I'm so sorry that something like this has touched your life and that of your 14 y.o. friend. I can't even begin to imagine what she is going through as she waits for her period.

I'm at a loss for words regarding the inaction of the hospital staff as they skipped over what should have been a no-brainer with the emergency contraceptive. What were they thinking? If it's just something they overlooked, they better update their checklists. If it was purposely overlooked, they should just do their jobs and get over themselves. I am sick and tired of people forcing their idea of 'morality' down our throats.

I hope they catch the monster that did this and he does some serious jail time. And I wish you luck with your sit-down with with hospital. If she is pregnant, they should pay - big time. I usually steer away from law suits since it seems that everyone is doing it, but maybe suing them might be the only way to teach them a lesson.

You are one strong woman, and that young lady is lucky to have you around. Thank you.

And good luck.

Ant Annie

leah said...

I just linked to this in a feminist discussion community where people were talking about a new WI law that makes it mandatory to give rape victims information about EC.
I had no idea it wasn't mandatory to offer EC and in the context of the horrible experience this young woman had to go through, I realize I need to make sure that the hospitals in my area make it mandatory.
I'm sure it feels kind of weird to have strangers idolize your over the internet during such a horrible time, but you being there for this girl when the people whose fucking job it was to help her failed is going to make such a difference in helping her heal from this.

Anonymous said...

...Emotional appeal doesn't change the fact that abortion is murder of a human life. The rapist should be killed for what he did, but the child has done absolutely nothing, and is therefore innocent: death is not just in this case...

Um, should't you stop trying to use emotional appeals to convince people that abortion is murder then? Practice what you preach much?

Even better, you are not this girl, therefore, you don't dictate what happens to her body. Simple as that.

The victim didn't do anything either, so why should she be forced to endure a pregnancy that she didn't ask for? Because it makes people like you feel better? You need to pull out a better reason than that to drastically later someone's life, especially someone you don't know, and have no intention of knowing or supporting.

Anonymous said...

All my life, to this day I fear being raped. I was molested as a child. Of course, my heart goes out this young girl that was raped.

Nonetheless, I can't condone your rage and senseless recomendation of an obortion.

In my opinion, the girl did not deserve to be raped and you had no right to influence her so heavily about getting an abortion.

I'm sorry but I think you like the rapist are a bad person.

Ignorance is bliss (is seems to me that it fits you and the rapist)!

You think that by emphatizing with her you are doing a good job (making you a good person), but you were just messing things up even more.

Rethink you Options
Reevalute your motives

ITS NOT ABOUT YOU LADY
It's about life and facing it

You can pretend all you want, that you knew what was best for that girl. Nevertheless, you never had a clue.

My heart truly goes out to that young lady.