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‘The Supreme Court made me relive my sexual assault’: How my experience changed my views on abortion

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By Taylor Chandler Hawkins

When news broke that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe V. Wade, I found myself reeling from the variance of emotions that flooded my heart and mind. Picture if you will the silly cartoons where a character falls from a tree and bounces on every single branch on their way down. That is precisely how I felt. One minute I’m angry, with smoke coming out of my ears and the next I am sobbing uncontrollably with hot tears and a snotty nose. With the leak of the opinion about a month prior, I tried to be realistic. I knew it was a possibility, but I still stubbornly held out hope that it wouldn’t come to pass.

When the day actually came, I still wasn’t prepared. I expected the anger and the sadness, but what I could not have predicted was that this event would bring back the trauma that resulted from New Year’s Eve 2012.

Before then, I was a staunch defender of the “unborn.” I believed with my whole heart that abortion was murder. The day that viewpoint changed for me was the first time my bodily autonomy was taken away from me by force. Eighteen years old and a recent high school graduate, I was working at my local Waffle House to pay for college when the guy I had a crush on in high school came in to eat after his shift. He was a star on the football team, and I was in the marching band. We could not have been more different.

To me, he was still out of my league and maybe that’s why I so eagerly said yes when he gave me his number and asked me out. A few hundred text messages later, and I was going to his house for the first time. It was New Year’s Eve, and his house was so dark that I could barely see. Without saying much he pulled me by the back of my neck into a kiss. I didn’t mind the kissing, but before I had a chance to react, he was using muscled arms to push me down on his bed. I pounded against his chest as hard as I could, trying to get him to stop, but it did no good. Fear held me by the throat and wouldn’t let words pass. The only way I escaped was grabbing his groin and squeezing as hard as I possibly could. I ran to my car as fast as my legs would carry me, the sound of his angry yelling chasing behind me.

I’m fortunate that it ended there but my story isn’t unique. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 in 10 women say they have received unwanted sexual advances or experienced sexual harassment. Crimes of this nature don’t just affect cisgender, heterosexual women. In fact, the CDC says that lesbian, bisexual, and gay individuals experience sexual violence at the same or even higher rates than those who are straight. Additionally, our trans friends and family are over four times likely to be victims of crime, according to the UCLA School of Law.

Likewise, the Supreme Court decision is extremely dangerous to those who are already a part of targeted communities and it doesn’t just affect women. Anyone with a uterus is at risk.

When this horrific decision came down, I felt like I was eighteen years old again, feeling the weight of men trying to control me and make me do things I didn’t consent to. It’s supposed to be to protect the lives of the unborn. But what about my life? Doesn’t my already living and breathing body have a say in what happens to it?

That wasn’t the last time I would be assaulted, but my first time had a huge impact on my views. One of my arguments used to be that a child was a blessing, even if it was the result of rape. My mind was quickly changed when I realized that could have been me. I wasn’t sexually active at the time, so I was completely unprotected and vulnerable. My assailant had no intention of using a condom. Humans can be very self-centered and unless an issue directly affects them, it isn’t that big a deal. That was the case for me. Once I realized how horrible it would have been to have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy in the midst of juggling college classes and working to try and make ends meet, I decided that no woman should have to be forced to endure that.

I’ve had ten years to learn how to cope with the PTSD that resulted from that night and to unlearn the toxic mindset that what happened to me was somehow my fault. Therapy became my best friend, but it is incredibly heartbreaking to find myself here, now with a daughter of my own, a victim yet again. Words cannot express the frustration in doing all the hard work to recover, only to be in a position where I don’t have a say in whether or not I choose to remain pregnant if I conceive again.

Sexual assault survivors know how it feels to have our bodily autonomy taken from us. That makes us dangerous. Dangerous to anyone who tries to get in the way of what is rightfully ours. We have put in the work to survive and even flourish in the face of ugliness. We will risk everything to make sure no one will be forced to go through what we went through ever again. We are reeling, but we won’t let this setback define us.

Taylor Chandler Hawkins is a creative writer residing in the peach city of Clanton, Ala. with her husband, daughter, dog, and nine cats. When she isn’t writing, she can be found devouring street tacos from her favorite taco truck or shoving her nose into a book.

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