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Michelle Knight’s brother reports she wants to be reunited with son conceived in gang-rape

Kidnap and rape victim Amanda Berry is a recent high-profile example of a woman’s love for a child conceived in rape. Her fellow kidnap and rape victim, Michelle Knight, is reportedly another example. Michelle’s brother Freddie tells the New York Daily News that Michelle wants to be reunited with the son she had before she was abducted by Castro. He was born after Michelle was gang-raped by boys at school prior to her abduction.

“She was a delightful girl, outgoing,” Deborah Knight, 62, told the Daily News. “She was very helpful. We just had a lot of fun together.”

But all that changed when three classmates “grabbed her by the arm and raped her at the school,” the great-aunt said. “That’s how she had Joey.” [...]

[...] “She was, like, ‘Give me a hug,’” her brother said. “She was so freaking happy. I gave her a hug, but I couldn’t give her a bear hug because of all the things that happened to her.”

Freddie Knight said his sister has said little about her years in Castro’s prison. “She was just happy to see me,” her brother said.

After enduring so much torment, cruelty and isolation, Knight is now eager to make up for the decade she lost, and wants her son, who is 13, back.

How could any woman possibly want to carry to term, give birth to, and parent a child conceived in rape? We hear this question all the time on political soapboxes. It is a mantra that hurts women, because it rejects the idea that women will naturally love their children regardless of the circumstances of their conception.

In the real world, we see many examples of mothers desiring a loving, protective relationship with their children conceived in rape that is consistent with all that we treasure about motherhood. Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight are two shining examples of this. Society’s rejection of such children can cause many children, and their mothers, to fall through the cracks. This is what happened to Michelle.

Michelle Knight was brutalized long before she was kidnapped by Ariel Castro. First, she was brutalized by being gang-raped by boys at school. Then she was brutalized when authorities stripped away from her the child she had conceived as a result of that rape. There are indications that this action by authorities was taken at the urging of family members who would not support Michelle in caring for the child. Michelle is now reluctant to reunite with some in her family, reportedly because of a custody dispute she had with her family prior to her abduction.

It was after she was gang-raped and her child was taken from her that Michelle was abducted and brutalized by Castro. This included his murdering five children she conceived as a result of his raping her repeatedly. Michelle’s life, then, has been mostly made up of people robbing her of her most precious treasures: the treasure of herself and the treasure of her children. The boys from school who gang-raped her robbed her of herself. The community, including possibly her own family, robbed her of a relationship with her child. Since it is now clear that Michelle’s brutalization began long before Castro entered her life, we would all do well to understand the community’s role in that part of Michelle’s tragedy, just as we are trying to understand how we can do more as a community to recognize that our own neighbors can be people like Ariel Castro.

Few among us would not recognize that healing for Michelle will come partly through being reunited with the child who was taken from her against her will. Reaching out and supporting Michelle now is an opportunity, then, for societal healing. Community support for her now will help to make up for the community support that was lacking for her when her child was taken from her.

Our learning to understand, as a society, that it is natural for Michelle to desire a relationship with her child conceived in rape is an important part of healing for Michelle and others like her. Women like Michelle fall through the cracks that we fashion with our pickaxes in the law when we say that abortion should be an option for raped women “because it’s natural for a woman not to desire that child.” We have failed as a society to understand that it is natural for Michelle to desire that relationship. Attitudes like this bring about the lack of support that resulted in Michelle’s child being taken from her. It is time for us to heal the cracks that women like Michelle, and their children, fall through – cracks that are made by those who advocate for abortion in cases of rape.

Michelle Knight, as Amanda Berry, teaches us a great lesson about children conceived in rape. Such children are a balm on the wounds of their mothers, not a blight. We need to support women who conceive children as a result of rape by responding with love for both them and their children. We need to let them, and all women, know that the love that they have for these children is natural and, as such, can be healing for them in the process of healing from rape.

The reality of motherhood, that motherhood itself is a treasure in and of itself, is something that we all need to stand ready to embrace in our families and in our communities, especially when the tragedy of rape occurs. When we preach violence as a response to violence, women like Michelle become brutalized – first by the rape, and then by the rejection of her natural desire to have a relationship with her child. Just as the community participated in the brutalization of Michelle Knight by taking her child from her, the community participates daily in the brutalization of other women like her because their children conceived in rape are treated under the law as non-persons who have no inherent right to exist.

If it is true that Michelle Knight wants to be reunited with her son, then we all need to come together in supporting her in that, as a community, for her sake and for the sake of her child. Just as Amanda’s story teaches us that children conceived in rape can be a source of hope that inspires mothers to persevere, Michelle’s story teaches us that community support for women who conceive children as a result of rape should always be an important part of our efforts to bring healing to women who are victims of the violence of rape. It is only in understanding the dignity and value of all women and their children that society can experience healing from violence against women. If our society’s answer to these women is that they are disordered in some way if they love these children and desire a relationship with them, we fail them as we failed Michelle.

  • ldwendy

    “In the real world, we see many examples of mothers desiring a loving, protective relationship with their children conceived in rape that is consistent with all that we treasure about motherhood. ”

    Only rape victims can speak for themselves. Apparently, Ms. Graas thinks all women who are pregnant as a result of rape want to relive their rape experiences on a daily basis by carrying the pregnancy to term.

    Treasuring motherhood does not mean minimizing a rape experience, which is what carrying the pregnancy to term could mean to raped women. Forcing or begging a woman to carry a pregnancy to term (because the potential life is so “super special”) is just cruel. It only adds to pro-choice notions of how pro-lifers treat pregnant women as incubators.

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      ” Apparently, Ms. Graas thinks all women who are pregnant as a result of
      rape want to relive their rape experiences on a daily basis by carrying
      the pregnancy to term.”

      I’m a mother of four. When mothers look at their children, they aren’t thinking of the sex act that they were conceived in. There is something seriously wrong if they are.

      • Reg Inchmale

        For some women, having been raped constitutes the something seriously wrong.

        • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.eilerson Sarah Eilerson

          Snork, that you actually have to point that out – repeatedly – is seriously wrong too, isn’t it.

          • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

            Maybe you should read the article again. Rape and abortion are both the same evil. Both rob people of themselves.

          • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.eilerson Sarah Eilerson

            No, I got the gist of it in one reading, thanks. Michelle desires something that I personally would not be remotely interested in. Good for her, and I hope it works out well for both of them.

          • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

            The desire she has is natural and in accordance with basic human dignity. The alternative is not.

      • EST1913

        Well, if you are raped, you do think about it! If you choose to have a child from rape, you really need to distance the act from the child. The sex act only comes to mind because of the situation – you were raped. The person isn’t blaming the child but the thought of the act does come back. It does haunt people and some don’t receive help. Each person handles rape differently. You can’t judge them either way. It is an awful experience.

        • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

          I’m unaware of any woman who has given birth to a child conceived in rape having any regrets about doing so. Further, adoption is always an option.

  • vlos4

    Women and girls need to be supported no matter what their choice is regarding a child conceived by rape. There cannot be a blanket statement regarding their feelings. Like the phrase “You can’t legislate morality” you also cannot legislate feelings.

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      The choice to kill isn’t a valid choice.

      • vlos4

        The choice to rape isn’t a valid choice. Your point?

        • Brooke

          Nobody is telling rapists that it is a valid choice. People do, on the other hand, support abortion.

          If you believe that aborting the ‘unwanted’ child conceived through rape is a valid choice, how does it make sense for you to compare it to the initial ‘choice’ of rape? In your mind, one is okay, but the other is not. How can you compare them?

          • vlos4

            The victim is being forced to make a choice, no matter what. And people will tell her, “That choice isn’t ‘valid’. I will tell you what choice is okay and what isn’t, no matter that this is *your* body and *your* life and I do not have to deal with it.” Only the woman/girl (with support) can know what is right for her. She already had no choice in being raped. She now needs the empowerment of knowing no matter what she decides, that it is the right choice *for her*.

          • Calvin Freiburger

            Your entire comment is predicated on a lie. It’s not just the woman’s body and life. Her child is there too, and the decision to abort will kill him or her. No more excuses for pretending the victim doesn’t exist.

          • Brooke

            1. Not every choice is “the right choice.” There can be wrong choices. You, yourself, even said that rape is not a “valid choice.” Murder is no better. Two wrongs do not make a right and killing yet another innocent victim is not going to solve anyone’s problems. It just makes the situation more twisted and disheartening.

            2. Even if you view it as the right choice “for her”, is it the right choice for all parties involved? In many cases, killing the child hides evidence of the rape and lets the rapist go on without being caught. It also snuffs out an innocent life. One that did not ask to be created in that situation.

            I maintain that killing an innocent should not be a valid choice in any situation.

        • JimfromCTown

          The Supreme Court of the United States in all its’ ‘wisdom’ has decided that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment for rapists, opt even child rapists are subject to the death penalty. Why should an innocent child conceived from that rape be given the death penalty that is too extreme for the actual criminal?

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    The reprint of this article at LifeNews has been shared over 9,000 times, as I write, on Facebook. Thanks, everyone.

  • Maria Ashot

    Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/vic_meg †Megan♥

    All the love and prayers in the world go to Michelle and Gina and Amanda. Let’s all give them the support they need, do all we can to help keep women and children from falling through the cracks. Beautifully written article Lisa!

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      Thanks, Megan.

  • Reg Inchmale

    How could any woman possibly want to carry to term, give birth to, and parent a child conceived in rape? Yes, but should the threat of criminal prosecution be used to force her to carry to term and give birth the child?

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      You’re asking me if the law should say it’s okay to throw a child away. The answer to that is ‘no.’

      • Penny Newton

        Ms. Graas my daughter had a baby boy in 2007 she was a Liver Transplant recipient at the age of 10 years old and at 18 she got pregnant and was told by her team of doctors that she needed to abort the baby because she would not carry the baby to term and that her very life was at stake. She chose to go on with the pregnancy and at 26 weeks she gave birth to a 1lb 10oz baby boy. After having her son that process destroyed her liver and she was placed on the Liver Transplant List for a new liver, she died in 2011 waiting for a liver but she WAS NOT going to abort her child under any circumstances. We miss and love her so much and we stood behind her decision 100%. We are (her parents) raising our grandchild. We serve a awesome GOD!

  • EST1913

    Your article obviously supports your agenda. For those of us who have experienced rape, we appreciate the choice to or not to abort. It is a personal decision and should remain just that way personal. If Michelle wants to reunite with her child, then she should be able too. However, I am sure she was a child when she was gang raped which means her parents had to make the decision. After all, her parents were responsible for her at that time and we don’t know the circumstances. Having a child and having the ability to raise a child are two totally different situations. I am sure the parent(s) did what was best for them and her at the time. We should support women regardless of the decision that they have to make especially when they are raped.

    • Calvin Freiburger

      How can the decision be “personal” when it concerns the death of someone other than the woman making the decision?

      • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.eilerson Sarah Eilerson

        I’m past that sort of worry, but if it had ever become not a personal decision, I’d just have traveled wherever I needed to go. Women with resources will continue to do that at probably the same rate they do now.

        • Calvin Freiburger

          And that answers the objection how?

          • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.eilerson Sarah Eilerson

            I’m not trying to answer the objection. I’m not debating. I’m telling you what I would do, what women with the means would do, if it becomes not a personal thing. There are women who will still be able to keep it personal, as they currently do in places where abortion is illegal. It’s just not necessarily illegal for them, practically speaking.

          • Calvin Freiburger

            When you’re talking about killing your child, there’s no such thing as it “becoming not a personal thing” or “keeping it personal.” It’s by definition NOT personal. Basic facts are not relative.

          • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.eilerson Sarah Eilerson

            I see what you’re saying. In terms of it not being anyone else’s decision, though, it is personal. In terms of the fact that I can travel elsewhere and have an abortion IS personal in that I don’t have to ask permission and am not obliged to discuss it with anyone. That’s what I mean by personal and private. I just don’t see that particular circumstance changing, but if you’re successful it will indeed prevent most abortions for women who can’t afford it. Things won’t change too much for those who can.

  • ysbladonna

    My heart goes out to Michelle. But at this point we need to focus on the child that was taken away. It would be a tragedy to return Michelle’s child to her after all she has been through and this child has had some sense of normality since being placed. We are dealing with a child that is 13 at this time. I say that after counseling and therapy she should be allowed to establish a relationship but to retain custody we wouldn be doing this child a disservice.

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      My article is not about who has custody but whether she has a right to have a relationship with her child. Having a relationship and having custody are two different things.

  • Mary

    Men are assholes

  • http://www.facebook.com/kconverti Kathleen Hicks

    What insight and heart Lisa. Thank you for this article- certainly a breath of fresh air.