Content warning: relationship abuse
“My Story: I had an unplanned pregnancy with my ex-husband. He will never know about it. That shitty plus sign forced my eyes open to the realities of my abusive relationship, and an abortion was the only guarantee I could ever leave. For years, I made decisions as large as what continent to live on and as small as what shirt to wear based on how I thought it would make someone else feel and to avoid verbal attacks that skillfully cut to my deepest insecurities. He violently and frequently misquoted me, saying that I had promised to start a family when I was 26 (I had just turned 28). He isolated me from friends, convinced me to go off the pill for the sake of “my health” and then did not use other protection in an appropriate manner, spent our savings without asking me, and lied and lied. I became stuck under a bell jar that distorted my views of myself and the world. I felt ashamed thinking about a child witnessing these interactions, or, my nightmare, becoming a victim themselves.
Without hesitation, in that instant of clarity, I decided to end my pregnancy and conceal it from him. I am grateful every day for the unconditional, nonjudgmental support I received from my best friend and sister. At a time when our generation of women had more rights than ever and we congratulated each other’s achievements with theatrical “Yaas Queens!”, the three of us cobbled together over $500 that he couldn’t trace through our joint bank accounts or health insurance, arranged for the Planned Parenthood appointment in a different county, and fabricated an excuse for me to leave home for a weekend (not something I was allowed to do). It was a life-changing decision and they were the only ones I could tell for years. I feared others would think I had a moral or legal responsibility to disclose the pregnancy to him since we were “married.” I had hidden the pain and shame I felt in my relationship from others for so long that sharing the abortion came with the additional emotional tax of also speaking honestly about everything else.
True to life’s format, these defining choices branch off into a myriad of other events and emotions that cannot be neatly sorted. Five years later, my throat tightens unpredictably while watching comedies or a PBS Frontine dealing with the subject matter. I am triggered. Maybe this is because of how integrated the abortion is with the emotional trauma, or confusion when recalling the brief procedure during which I was moderately sedated and able to hear the rumbling of the suction, or anger over the disemboweling of our reproductive rights at the state and federal levels, or some fucked up smash up of it all. The unsettled feelings are more present recently too, as a good partner and I consider having a family and I imagine what a full pregnancy would feel and look like. I worry about complications and challenging decisions. I know that my experience will never be shared publicly, even though that is critical in order to destigmatize abortions. I choose to write about this anonymously because I do not want my choice to be spoken about by him or his circles, or appear vindictive. I can fight for people to have the right to choose and welcome into conversations those who disagree with what I and many other people never thought they would have to do. And, unless we address domestic violence, in its visible and invisible forms, some people will lose their self-worth and, very likely, much much more.” - Anonymous