P.J. was only 14 years old when she met the man who would rape her.
Growing up in a military family, P.J.’s parents weren’t typically the kind to let their kids hang out with just anybody. But when the teen’s friends invited her to hang out with a military boy who was home for Christmas leave, they were surprisingly fine with it.
The friends all gathered in P.J.’s house, and in her parents’ basement, with several witnesses, P.J. was raped. Every one of them remained silent about what happened.
It wasn’t until five months later that P.J. found out that she was pregnant. The truth about what had happened in their basement finally came out when she told her parents.
They were shocked, and furious. They felt guilty, and P.J.’s mother, Angela, admittedly considered taking her daughter to get an abortion.
“I really thought I would take her to terminate the pregnancy,” Angela explains. “I was pro-life but with exceptions. I didn’t want to do that, but I was always told it was the thing to do in the case of forcible rape. My husband, however, said he couldn’t have anything to do with the death of a child. That it was still a human life. Everywhere we went, friends and religious people were very adamant that we should terminate.”
Wrestling with the decision that weighed heavy on her heart, Angela was at a loss of how to best care for her daughter. Many of the people closest to her were encouraging her to help P.J. terminate the pregnancy, but her husband, Doug, was encouraging the opposite. She was reminded of her own experience with abortion.
“In college, I got pregnant and I went to a health clinic. I was 24 weeks, and I had an abortion. My mother forced me to because she didn’t want to be embarrassed by my poor choices. We never spoke about it again. I have never gotten over it.”
Like any parent, Angela wanted better for her daughter than what she had. She didn’t want P.J. to suffer with the same guilt and regret that she was forced to experience every day of her life.
A friend called Angela and referred her to Trisha, who runs a Birth Right. She begged her to take P.J. there before they made any decisions.
“Trisha was the first person to say it was going to be okay. She was the first person who actually encouraged us to keep [the baby]. As a woman, even if you’re pro-life, you’re told there’s nothing worse you can do to a rape victim [than tell her to keep her baby]. I’ve been told by everyone, especially the media, that abortion is what you do. Trish gave us Rebecca Kiessling’s pamphlet. We prayed about it and it was the best thing we had ever done. After we left Birth Right, P.J. cried—not because she was upset—but she said she felt relieved and like we were in a safe place. She said she knew Miss Trisha had her best interest at heart. When we heard [the baby’s] heartbeat, it was over for me. This child will be a gift from God. P.J. spent a lot of quiet time reflecting. She had a wisdom I didn’t have. Her strength and wisdom is what got us through.”
As they pressed forward and prepared for baby James to make his grand entrance into the world, P.J.’s family decided to throw a baby shower. After all, this baby was P.J.’s first child, and their first grandchild. While the circumstance was unfortunate, the life of this beautiful baby was completely worth celebrating!
P.J. gave birth to her son, James, in the fall of 2011. It was an exciting time full of joy and love, but the legalities of this little baby boy meant a long road ahead for P.J. and her family.
As they moved forward with pressing charges against the man who raped her, they learned some disturbing facts that could severely endanger both P.J. and James.
Where they lived, there were no laws in place to protect women and their children conceived in rape from their rapist. Something that seems so “obvious,” isn’t actually legislation, which is unbelievable. This man was legally allowed to move forward and seek custody and parental rights.
In addition to the lack of protection they were up against, the man who raped P.J. had also previously raped another soldier—a male. He was also in the process of being discharged from the Army for illegal drug use.
The other soldier later recanted his accusation, and the rapist was acquitted of rape. He was convicted of a felony for illegal use of cocaine, but those charges were no punishment for the pain and suffering he put P.J. through.
Eventually, the rapist’s attempts at getting partial custody of James failed.
Today, P.J. is a happy mama who spoils James with love and truth. She attends a women’s Bible study once a week, and she prays with James every day, constantly reminding him that he has always been wanted and loved.
As for their decision not to terminate the pregnancy, Angela couldn’t be more grateful.
“The minute we laid eyes on this child, we didn’t once equate him to the rapist. He’s just as much a victim. He has healed our family in ways we can’t explain. He is the most amazing gift from God. I don’t even know how to put it in words.”