Saturday, March 28, 2015

XXV

On Wednesday, during a debate in Ohio, a representative of the state became angry during a debate over a bill that would ban most abortions, not including cases where the mother's life is in danger. She revealed that she was a rape victim, became pregnant, and subsequently had an abortion. For anyone that has been following my blog, you know that I have a son, Matthew, because Theo Keyes chose to rape me. He chose to abuse me countless times and one of those times, I ended up impregnated. So, in a way, I am similar to the Ohio representative.

However, she took the stance that victims like her should have the right and choice to abort their unborn baby at will. But let's not mince words here: abortion is the choice to take a life--and when it is not done to save the life of a mother, which is a deeply hard choice I know some mothers have to make, it is a selfish, thoughtless, conscious action to end an innocent life. The bill in Ohio suggested charging doctors with a fifth-degree felony for performing abortions when a fetal heartbeat is present: approximately at 8 weeks of pregnancy. Week 5, however, is when the heart of the fetus starts pumping blood and arms and legs begin to grow. Although I believe that life begins at conception, which is a statement that draws a lot of debate, I think most people can agree the fetus at week 5 of pregnancy sounds like it's very much alive.

Courts throughout the U.S. have generally allowed abortions up until 24 weeks. I have a close friend, Sami, that was born at 23 weeks. She was so tiny that her dad could literally slide his wedding ring all the way up her leg. Her twin died shortly after birth, but my friend survived. She is one of the most amazing women I know. When we were young she participated and excelled in dance, writing and in school, and is going on to continue her education through college. Sami and Matthew are both living testaments to the argument against abortion.

When I was pregnant with Matthew, I admit I was beyond scared. I remember the moment I definitively found out I was pregnant: it was in a hotel room in Oregon. I was with my parents and we had booked the room to rest for the night, but we all wanted to know if I was really pregnant. I cried when the test came up positive. I was upset and scared, but abortion simply was not an option. I was carrying a life, a baby, inside me. I made the decision to adopt, which later became giving my parents legal guardianship of Matthew so I could remain "Mom" and receive support from my family in several aspects of raising my son. I could not have imagined anything that would bring me more joy than that little boy has, and I can't imagine life without him. When my parents take him on vacations, I wonder what I did before I had a son. He is the most beautiful thing ever created and I have absolutely no regret for keeping him, no matter the trials I've been through during the course of both the pregnancy and the continuing learning experience of raising my first child.

I wish women considering abortion could be around mothers like me--girls who have been through similar or exact situations of horrible abuse. I felt tainted for a very long time, and I felt that nothing would ever change that feeling. Even though I felt tainted, though, I knew Matthew was so innocent and sheltered from everything that had happened to me. He was the best thing to ever come from such tragedy, and I wish the representative from Ohio could hear this. Defending "women's rights" when regarding abortion is selfish and weak. I've never loved anyone the way I love my son, and that love would never have been known if I chose to terminate my pregnancy and end his life.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

XXIIII

Last Monday, March 9th, 2015, marked the three-year anniversary of the beginning of the relationship I had with Theodore Aaron Keyes that would turn into the most violent two-month period of my entire life. It was also the day that something else happened: something that reaffirmed my belief that my struggles were not in vain. At around 1:30 PM that Monday, I received a call from a long-distance number. Usually I ignore these calls because they are more often than not telemarketers, but for some unknown reason, I picked up the phone, and the person on the other line almost made my heart stop: it was a police officer from the Bellingham Police Department.

I sat in the car, next to my mom as she drove home, my beautiful 2-year-old son in the backseat, and told the officer everything I could about Theo. She told me that they were investigating an "assault on a woman" and that he wasn't an official suspect, they had no leads, but his name kept popping up. I re-told my story with dates and events, the memories almost as vivid as the times I actually experienced his abuse. I told her of the deep-seated hatred he had for women, that it was beyond hate and had transfigured into something much darker than that. I was on the phone with the officer for almost forty-five minutes, giving her every piece of information I had, but I left out the address of this blog.

I don't know why I did it. I thought about calling back that entire day and most of the next day to give the officer the last piece of damning evidence, hoping that Theo actually was involved. Around 5:00 PM the next day, I called the police department and offered the address of my blog as well as the name and contact information of a woman who Theo had harassed before moving onto me. The officer told me she had already read my blog, which shocked me, because in the scope of things, two-thousand views didn't mean nearly as much to me as it should have. I didn't think it would reach people, but it ended up falling into the hands of law enforcement, exactly where I wanted it to go.

In previous posts, I've discredited law enforcement, because the police chose not to investigate my case. I realize now that even though they didn't, it was the right thing for me to do to file a report and write this blog: both things that were a struggle at the time I did them. The information I gave to the police three years ago is now helping them catch Theo, even though it's not for the abuse inflicted upon me. I will continue to fight for those who are current, past or future victims of sexual violence and this most recent experience with the police makes me even more dedicated to the cause.

Friday, March 6, 2015

XXIII

Recently I have found inspiration from the fictional character in House of Cards, Claire Underwood. In the show she pushes a very controversial sexual assault bill through Congress and tries to get it approved and her determination on the issue made me want to start blogging again. I realized that this isn't just for me to get my thoughts out onto this blog: this blog is a tool and gives me a voice to speak up against the growing, omnipresent problem of sexual violence. This post deviates slightly from the trend of my past entries, but I feel it is important all the same.

While many internet and social media users were (and still are) obsessing over the color of the dress, something came to my attention via Facebook that made me sick to my stomach. Admittedly even I got caught up in the debate over the dress and I was embarrassed that it distracted me from a real issue that I should have written about months ago: the "re-homing" of a six year old girl and her three year old sister.

Arkansas Representative Justin Harris and his wife Marsha adopted the two girls in September 2012, taking them out of a household that exposed both girls to a sexually abusive older male relative. This is a noble gesture by any means, but it obviously didn't last. The Harris family gave the two girls to Eric and Stacey Francis in October 2013, citing irreconcilable behavioral problems with the girls. Harris knew the Francis family because Eric previously held a job at Harris' family business, Growing God's Kingdom Preschool, from November 2013 to January 2014 and was fired for "poor work attendance".

Harris said that "[w]hen our adoption became final, we went to the court, the whole family, exchanged teddy bears and everything -- and it was like a light bulb suddenly flipped on for the girls. They knew, suddenly knew, that this was their forever home, and they were no longer ever going back to Mom's house...[t]here was anger and an instant behavior change."

The Francis household then gave away the two girls to a third family, unbeknownst to the Harris family and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). A hotline, operated by Arkansas Crimes Against Children Division (CACD) exists specifically to report child abuse. On March 28, 2014, an anonymous caller contacted the hotline and revealed the children were in a third household living with a couple that were not their legal guardians. CACD subsequently reached out to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and conducted an interview with the six year old girl, who revealed that Eric had raped her while his wife was out of state in January of 2014.

Eric Francis was around children constantly and after the truth of the sexual abuse was exposed, police immediately interviewed parents of the children who attended the preschool, but no one had anything incriminatory to say about Eric Francis, although there were two other incidents of sexual abuse in the outside community. Francis was arrested April 4th of 2014 and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Justin and Marsha Harris have been claiming to be victims ever since the news of this horrendous situation was revealed to the public. Rep. Harris has been dodging questions and interviews and has said little about the situation. A statement released late on March 5th, 2015 stated that the children had "reactive attachment disorder" and "[d]ue to threats of possible abandonment charges, they were unable to reach out to DHS for help with children who presented a serious risk of harm to other children in their home. Upon the advice of both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician, they were forced to move the children to the home of trusted friends[.]"

I am horrified that the practice of "re-homing" children is acceptable. Utah has no statute regarding the practice of re-homing, but I found that several states have tried to limit, as best they could, the practice of placing children in another home after they've already been adopted (see here for a full list). Children aren't animals and shouldn't be treated as such, and certainly should feel loved and cared for in any home. I'm disgusted that the Harris family chose to abandon their adopted daughters and put them in a home where they were once again exposed to abuse. The trauma that the six year old will have to endure is beyond my comprehension and I think the Harris' choice to do something like that to children they promised to parent is inexcusable.

Articles Cited:

A Child Left Unprotected

Daily KOS

Raw Story