The story below is of Witlee Ethan, a courageous woman who rose above her circumstances.
“As a rape survivor I can tell you that giving women of rape support rather than shaming them is pivotal to not only their healing but could be life saving. A lot of women of violence will have suicidal thoughts and even try to commit suicide. I know I did, though mine was an unsuccessful attempt. But not everyone’s is! Another way that the support is a matter of life is that the rape may result in pregnancy. A victim of rape will need support that much more if that violent act does indeed result in the life of a child. What is crucial about getting support right away is that in matters of rape, it’s not often discussed or even revealed if a woman was pregnant from it. The reason for that is because women who seek emergency medical treatment soon after, are also subjected to a specific protocol – involving the rape kit. That protocol includes the victim being given emergency medicine to eliminate the risk of potentially life threatening STD’s and diseases including Aids.
Though, what most are unaware of taking place during this vulnerable timeframe is these women are also given the Emergency Contraception Pill (ECP) or Morning After Pill. Anyone who is not a medical professional would not know the difference between the pills that are for eliminating STD’s and the one for ECP- Morning After Pill. In my case all those pills were combined into the same plastic cup and I was advised to take them all at the same time. I couldn’t tell the difference from one pill to another. The SART nurse performing the rape kit firmly encouraged me that it was in my best interest to take the ECP – Morning After Pill to prevent pregnancy, because it was her medical opinion that I was indeed pregnant from the rape. She even said, “Who would want a baby out of rape?”. So, in the midst of being in an already very fragile state due to the trauma of the rape, I’m now facing opposition and being manipulated into taking the ECP – Morning After Pill. I was even told that she was going to scrape me internally of any possible traces of pregnancy. When I crossed my legs to prevent the SART nurse from doing that, she just laughed at me and mocked me for my choice of refusing to take any steps or actions towards thwarting a potential pregnancy. Of course I didn’t want to be pregnant out of rape, but I also value all life and if there was a life potentially forming inside of me, I was not going to play God and end that life. Especially knowing that if any life existed it was because He willed that, He created that life for His purpose even if life came out of such an evil situation such as rape. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the ECP – Morning After Pill does prevent life after conception from implanting, growing, thriving, and existing.
Victims of rape have a lot to process and the unsupportive behavior and environment that takes place while the rape kit is being performed is not one that victims of rape should ever be exposed to. We need to keep in mind that the rape in itself for victims is traumatic enough so we as a society should not be adding any anxiety or stress to their situation by shaming and blaming them. This violent act is in no way their fault! Society has a very skewed perception of rape victims which only hurts them more. From my own experience even some of the faith and pro-life communities have added more harm to victims of rape, by wounding them further through mistreatment and ostracizing them for an act they never committed but one that had been committed against them!
So, taking my experience into account, my suggestions for supporting victims of rape are the following. Even though the faith and pro-life communities are not always 100% supportive, I would still advise that If you or someone you know is a victim of rape, seek medical treatment from a trusted faith based or pro-life pregnancy center or doctor’s office. One that will not only be a medical support for the mother but also an advocate for any potential life conceived out of rape, before tests results can even confirm a pregnancy. Also this environment needs to be a safe non-judgmental haven that can offer compassion and emotional support. A place which can also refer the victim to a counseling professional to help assist in the long road to healing in the days, weeks, months, and years following the rape and its aftermath. The counseling professional will be able to help the victim work through feelings of depression and any suicidal thoughts they may have once they start processing the trauma.
Second, we as a society in general, including the faith and pro-life communities can and need to do more to support these victims. Especially since there are more victims that can result from this, including children conceived from rape. It is a 50/50 chance a woman can become pregnant. Blaming them for others actions is ridiculous! In any other situation you would never blame a criminal’s actions on someone else, so why in cases of rape do we do that? Shaming a victim does nothing to help them with healing, it only hurts them more and can make them more susceptible to being victimized again. We are supposed to be working towards preventative measures to combat violence not taking steps backwards by condoning and justifying the violent act. Also, we need to universally recognize that a life is a life and each one has worth and a purpose. Any method that can be used to destroy or prevent a life falls inline with abortion methods. Within the pro-life and faith communities we need to stand with those who take any pro-life stand that supports life, even if they are refusing the ECP-Morning After Pill before a test can confirm a positive or negative pregnancy result. To turn away the ECP-Morning After Pill, is being pro-life without compromise in action and should be recognized as such. Rather than ripping them apart, minimizing, attacking, or calling into question that pro-life choice. Because at that point how are you different from the pro-choice community or Planned Parenthood? Remember that to stand out from Planned Parenthood our actions and words should not just be pro-Life but also pro-love. Dissecting a woman’s pro-life choice and deeming some choices more pro-life than others does nothing to help aid in our fight to protect and uphold life. In fact it only hurts our mission and at the end of the day that mission is to save and protect lives, period! Pro-life choices are still pro-life choices, no different than a spade is still a spade. Life is still a life, right?
I know all this first hand because my own pro-life story has been attacked, dissected, and ripped apart mostly by faith and pro-life communities. It’s disheartening and can be mentally debilitating and emotionally taxing to victims of rape to be further wounded from people and communities that publicly proclaim to help them, but when push comes to shove instead their actions show the opposite causing further hurt. We need to show these women support but even more so acceptance and love. Going forward, review your process in how you respond to victims of rape, regardless of whether it results in pregnancy or not. It’s important that you are showing these women support so they aren’t turned away by your lack there of – via your shaming and blaming them. Which could cause them to seek help from the wrong places such as organizations like Planned Parenthood. We don’t want them turning to Planned Parenthood for any type of help or medical needs. Even if they aren’t pregnant do not want them to be relying on Planned Parenthood if they find themselves facing a pregnancy in the future? We need to be pro-life, pro-love, pro-woman, not just talking the talk but also walking the walk. Acknowledging every life and that every story of turning away the ECP-Morning After Pill in cases of rape is a Pro-life story, and a ultimately a win for God, regardless of pregnancy tests results. Remember that this mission to protect life is a calling from God – not for our own agendas!”-Witlee Ethan with Live Each Day With Purpose