Planned Parenthood

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.

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Wherever it leads me…

Just back from running errands and while I was out, I thought of various things I wanted to write about. It kind of seems like that’s when I get ideas; when I’m somewhere I can’t write them down. Such as driving.

  Someone followed my blog recently, so I went to check out hers. There was a post where she said something that indicated being raped was one of the lesser traumas she had been through. Yeah I can relate to that. It’s an individual thing. What twists one person up inside may be completely different than someone else’s nightmare. I don’t think that makes how the person feels any less valid. I was raped twice as a teenager. The first one I was passed out for most of it though, so if you don’t remember something, how much does it affect you? I guess that depends on the person too. I read about these slimeball football players getting these young girls wasted and raping them, and having the audacity to take pictures of it, and it makes me sick. I think the photos/videos must make it worse. What a horror show. Anyway, thinking about this stuff reminded me of lots of things.

When I was 19, I was hospitalized. They sent me there straight from ICU and I was not a happy camper. The catalyst had been a messed up love triangle where I was being pulled in two directions. So when we had to do the group thing, I said that’s why I was there. There was this head doctor who had a way of looking at me like a bug under a microscope and I think he knew I was playing them. Say what they want to hear so you can get out… or so went my reasoning. A week or two of this and they pinned me down. “Is that all?” someone asked. I said that was why I was there, but they kept pushing so I gave a brief history of me. I said I had been abused when I was little, and my mom had left when I was eight, then died before I turned eleven. My father was an abusive bastard who made my life hell. I had been raped twice. I listed these things sort of casually and this girl in the group started crying. I didn’t understand why she was crying then, so I  stopped talking, but I think she was crying for me. And when I dissociated, the Doctor leaned forward and peered at me. I don’t know if he knew what was going on, but he knew something was.

When I was sixteen my father almost killed me. He had me down on the floor strangling me and I was losing consciousness. I knew that if I stayed he would kill me eventually, so I ran away. To Miami (from Maryland). However, this girl that went with me got scared and called her momma and the police snatched us up. Yeah I was pissed, but it’s probably a good thing they did. They took us to this shelter for runaways called ‘Miami Bridge’ and I told them I would just run again. There was a lady there that gave me the numbers to shelters in my home town that I could go to, so when I got back, I told my stepmother that if he ever laid a hand on me again, that’s exactly what I was going to do.

After that, I got a full time job, 4-12 after school, so I rarely saw him any more, and I moved out at seventeen, the day after I graduated. Anyway, this is the sort of thing my mind skips around to when something gets me started. I really don’t think that’s the sort of thing people want to read about, is it? All those nights hitch-hiking home from work in the dark, and the various creeps I encountered… there were a couple of cars I actually jumped out of. Being a teenager kind of sucked in a lot of ways. But there were good things too.

Being a teenager

It’s hard to be a teenager. You have hormones surging through your body, wreaking havoc on your emotions. You’re caught in between childhood and adulthood and the future seems unimaginable and so very far away. You are a slave to your passions, and you follow your heart, stepping off the precipice again and again, believing you will be caught. You try to keep most of your life a mystery to adults, sometimes by necessity. You have your own mind working against you at times, you have school, family and drama with friends. Sometimes it gets overwhelming.

 That’s for the normal teen, if there is such an animal. But if you’re a teenager who has been traumatized, it can be so much worse. Your friends don’t understand your oddities so you’re the weird one. You embrace it and wear it like a badge of honor. But it’s all a smokescreen for what’s really inside and what you want is for someone to care enough to see past the disguise. You are something wild and you feel your savagery in your bones. Sometimes this makes you prey for those who hunt the wounded, compounding the confusion you already bathe in daily.

When people get older, they often forget precisely how it feels to be a teenager. They forget the fierce joy you feel at being out at night, the warm breeze riffling your hair as you scream defiantly. They forget the heady seduction of danger, and of breaking the rules. They forgot about how it felt the night they swam naked in a storm at night, the waves tossing them about like so much flotsam.

They forget they were once awake, fully awake, feeling excitement tingling in every cell of their bodies, not afraid to experience it all. Or maybe they were never awake and don’t understand what I’m writing about at all. Perhaps they think this is just a sort of psycho-babble that sets one apart in some way.

You believed in magic. You were part of the mystery and you knew things you had no way of knowing. The games changed, but still you played. Always play. I think when you quit playing, when you are afraid of the absurd and start to feel you are ‘too old for such things’, that’s when you actually do get old.

The mystery is still there, but it’s harder to get it back than it is to maintain it.