Letter

My God remembers: My story of rape and miscarriage

woman-sad
Becky Dunlap, age 14

Becky Dunlap, age 14

When I was 13, my best friend and I were inseparable. Her mom had her baby brother when we were in 7th grade and we pretty much “mothered” that little baby boy. I remember meeting him in the hospital the day he was born and his little wrinkled toes and legs were just so precious. I have always loved babies, from the time I was a little girl.

The summer before 8th grade, my friend went to stay with her dad in another state for a month.  One night, I babysat her two brothers so her mom and her mom’s live-in boyfriend could go out.  Around midnight I started to get worried.  I didn’t like the dark, and being only 13, that was a late time at night to still be babysitting. I started counting down the minutes for them to return.

They finally returned and the boyfriend said he would take me home.  When we got closer to my house, he sped up and drove past it.  I told him he had passed my house and he told me to shut up.  By that time, I was screaming and had no idea where we were going.  He drove down around winding roads for what seemed like a long time.  It was dark and I was terrified.  He pulled off the road into a gated parking lot surrounded by trees and bushes.  I was somewhat aware of where we must be, but I was far from home and disoriented.  He began pulling at my clothing, trying to undress me.  The more I resisted, the more forceful he became.

I remember every detail. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to live.  I sobbed uncontrollably, repeatedly begging him to take me home and saying I didn’t want to have sex with him.  He told me to shut up and said no one could hear or find me out there.  I wanted to try to get out of the car, but he was violent and I was scared to death.

After raping me, he drove me home while threatening me to never tell anyone.  When I got home, I went to my parents bedroom, stuck my head in the door and said “I’m home.”  Then I went to my room, hid my clothes in the back of my bottom drawer, and went to bed.

I told only my best friend, who told her mom.  Every time the phone rang, I was scared it would be my friend’s mom, calling to tell my parents.  She told me I should tell them, but I didn’t want to, because I didn’t want to ruin my family’s fun summer.

A couple weeks after being raped, my period was late.  I was concerned I might be pregnant, but I didn’t want to tell my parents. A  month later, still no period.

While visiting my grandparents in Pennsylvania, I began bleeding and having stomach pains.  I told my mom and friend Crystal I had started my period, but inside I was terrified that I was miscarrying.  I still wasn’t sure I was pregnant, but I knew enough to understand I could get pregnant from rape.  Over the next night and following day, I continued to have stomach pains and passed large blood clots. After that day, the pain subsided and I bled for 14 days straight.  I never told a soul.

On the first day of school that year, I met my English teacher and  knew that day that she was someone I could confide in.  She stood in front of class and said if any of us ever had something that we needed to tell, she would help us. I felt sick that day — a nervous sick, knowing that I might someday be able to tell my secret.

One day I handed her a folded up piece of paper that said “I need to talk to you sometime.” She called me into the hall that day and I told her everything. She cried, held my hand, listened, and asked me questions.  She convinced me that I had to tell my parents, and she called my mom and dad from the school.

My parents were heartbroken. They quickly pressed charges. Once the rapist was arrested, my best friend became very angry and spread horrible rumors around school about me.  Along with what had happened to me, I was hurting from losing my best friend.

By the time the trial started, it had been nine months since the rape.  I remember actually feeling sad for the rapist.  I thought of how incredibly lost he had to have been to do something so awful to a child.

The day of trial, he tried to lie to the judge, saying he thought I was 16, but the judge got angry and told him he needed to get his story straight.  So after talking to his lawyer, he admitted to what he did to me and agreed to a plea bargain.  He ended up serving less than 8 months.  Looking back, I understand that the prosecutors were wanting to spare me the trauma of a trial, but I think a trial would have been better than knowing he was free in my community and that he had raped at least one other girl before.

After I started going to counseling in 10th grade, I would read my bible and journal to God late into the night.  He was faithful to me and was very close.  One night as I was crying out to Him, He showed me a vision of Jesus on the cross.  I could see the pain and the sacrifice, and for the first time, I felt deep sadness that my sin had nailed Him there.  God reminded me that He died for the man who had raped me too.  That night, He helped me to forgive my offender completely.

I was eventually able to tell my counselor about the possibility that I had miscarried after becoming pregnant by rape.  I also told one of my church youth leaders, who said, “Becky you wouldn’t have wanted a baby with that man; it would have been a constant reminder of that monster.  God took care of that for you.”  Her words deeply wounded my soul because I adored babies.  After that, I vowed to never tell anyone else about the possible miscarriage, thinking no one else could ever understand.  Years later, as a mom to several children, I finally talked with my midwife about what had happened — the missed periods, the pain, the blood clots, and the prolonged bleeding.  She confirmed that what had happened sounded like a miscarriage.

In the years since, I’ve found healing and hope that could have only come from Jesus. Time helps, but doesn’t truly heal — only Jesus’ work in us can heal our wounds.  I’ve found Jesus to be a comfort to me when I was hurting, strength to me when I’ve been too weak to go on, light when all I could see was dark, peace when I’m afraid, patience when I try to walk alone.

Today: The Dunlap family

Now, at 38 years old, after 25 years, I am finally accepting the loss of my baby and feeling the grief that I never allowed myself to experience.  The truth is, I long for that child. Though I am at home with my six beautiful children today, there isn’t a child who can replace another. I still long for the child who I never got to hold.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it would have been like had I carried that baby to term.  I’m aware that it would have completely changed my life.  I also know without a shadow of a doubt that God created that baby and He would have given me everything I would have needed to love that child.

I don’t think of abortion as an option for rape.  Had I chosen abortion, I would have introduced a deeper trauma, a greater amount of pain, and more evil on top of an already evil act.  Nothing about abortion would have helped my situation.  That baby had as much a right to live as I do. Life is precious, and all lives are created and given by God, the giver of life.  I named my baby Zechariah, which in Hebrew means “Yahweh Remembers.” I take comfort knowing that my God indeed remembers.

I am deeply grateful for God’s love, faithfulness and healing, and grateful that He doesn’t just discard our broken places but instead He brings beauty for ashes and redeems it all.

Becky Dunlap is a wife of 17 years and a stay-at-home mom to six children.  She blogs at The 8 Dunlaps and is a blogger for Save The 1.

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