I was raped as a teenager. I had just turned seventeen and was a senior in high school when I found myself in a very bad situation. I do not want to go into what happened that night. It is enough that you know I was raped and terrified. I was from an abusive home, and there was no way I could tell an adult. However, I knew I needed help. The rapists were not kind enough to use protection, and I was afraid I might be pregnant or have gotten an STD. I was seventeen, had been traumatized, and my boyfriend, who I loved very much, had decided to blame me for what happened. Suffice it to say, I was not in a good place emotionally.
I did the only thing I could do – I contacted my local clinic. I remember calling them from school, using the payphone out front. This was when payphones were still a thing and before everyone had cell phones. I made an appointment and the lady asked me what I was coming in for. I told her I needed to be tested for pregnancy and STDs. She asked if I had reason to believe I may have been exposed, such as having sex with someone who was a known carrier. I didn’t want to tell her, but I did. I told her I had been raped and that I just didn’t know. I remember the woman was horrified and asked if there was someone I could talk to about it. She wanted a phone number, but I told her I was calling from school and did not have one to give her. I told her I was fine, I just needed to make sure, and no, there was no wonderfully wise and compassionate adult I could speak to about the issue. I made the appointment and held my breath.
The day of the appointment, I had to get to the next town over, where the clinic was located. It’s been some years ago since this happened and I don’t remember how I got there, but it would have been complicated. I did not have a car so getting there would have been a real problem. It was a rural area so there was no public transportation available. No taxis, no buses, no trains. I may have hitch-hiked, but after my recent rape I rather doubt it. At any rate, it would have involved some planning to get just to the next town over. Thank God I didn’t have to go to another state. To get to my appointment, I would have either skipped school or taken time off of my job. At that time I was working 4-12 after school, full time, trying to save up the money to escape my miserable home existence.
I don’t remember getting there, but I remember the appointment. The lady I spoke to was the one I had spoken to on the phone, so she knew what had happened. She was compassionate and concerned for me. I was seventeen, isolated, had serious trust issues, and was highly independent. I often adopted a tough attitude as protection, hoping my prickly exterior would keep people at a safe distance. I had not cried over what happened since that night. I had been trying to pretend like it hadn’t happened. Until that appointment. The lady at the clinic was gentle and she was so genuinely concerned about me that I started crying. I don’t remember what she asked me, but it came out that it had been two men, which made it that much worse. She examined me, tested me for STDs, spoke to me, gave me a bag full of prophylactics and a referral to see a therapists, all for free. This is what Planned Parenthood did for me.
Her compassion was what broke me. I had expected her to blame me, to think it was my fault, and that I was a horrible person. She didn’t think any of those things, and she helped me feel a little less tainted. My results came back negative and I went on with my life with one more scar, but I have never forgotten the kindness of that unknown clinic worker.
The current attack on Planned Parenthood by a bunch of old men is unacceptable. Planned Parenthood does so much for so many women. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have been able to be tested. They do cancer screenings, pap smears, give classes, and give prenatal care, among many other services. Providing safe abortions when necessary is just a minuscule part of what they do, and zero funds from federal money goes towards that. Planned Parenthood clinics help millions of girls just like I was. These old men would have demanded that my father was told right off the bat. That would have gotten me beaten and more, and it would have made the whole experience a lot more traumatic. My story is just one, and it happened long ago, but it mattered. Planned Parenthood matters. Abstinence education doesn’t work… teenagers will do what teenagers do. When provided with birth control and protection, unwanted pregnancies and STDs drop dramatically. When you take them away, they rise dramatically. It’s really not a difficult concept. If you want less federal money spent on supporting unwanted children and their woefully unprepared young parents, you spend a little up front on prevention. In my case it wasn’t even a matter of teenagers doing what teenagers do – it was rape. And Planned Parenthood was there.
I don’t think a bunch of old men have any business deciding what woman do with their bodies. Demonizing an organization that does so much for so many is self destructive and it’s just plain stupid. With our current administration, Planned Parenthood is going to need the support of individual people, even if you can only donate a little. It won’t replace the money lost through federal grants, but it might help keep them afloat for a little while. We don’t need more nuclear weapons. That’s ludicrous, dangerous and expensive. But the same old men who don’t think any money should go towards health care are fine with spending money on war toys. They should not be allowed to feel self righteous. They should be called out for the bitter dinosaurs that they are.
You can donate to Planned Parenthood here. They will even let you donate in someone else’s name, so that person gets a nice little thank you note. I, and thousands of other women, have donated in Mike Pence’s name, just because he’s such an extreme miserable example of an old man mucking about in matters that he should have no say in.
Just a suggestion.