Sat huddled in the garden shed surrounded by darkness. It was cold, bitter cold, my breath warm against the crisp air. Sat wrapped in an old woolen blanket with a bucket next to me if I needed to pee. The shed door shut but never locked, yet I never tried to leave. Why? Fear, I guess, fear can paralyze you, take away your sense of self, a sense of self-worth. At 16 years old, I went from a violent home to a violent relationship with someone who was more than 15 years older than me and who would beat me regularly, lock me in the house when he went out, lock me in the closet, and quite often send me to the shed to spend the night during winter. He would kick me to the ground and drag me along the street by my hair. No one ever intervened.
At 17 years old, I missed my period. I was on the pill but due to the relentless violence, I was incredibly unwell both mentally and physically. I regularly threw up my food, unable to hold much down. I was pregnant. The beatings got a lot worse – I was scared. At around 14 weeks pregnant, I had never been for a check-up or a scan. Then, one evening, he sent me out to get milk from the corner shop. With only the clothes I was wearing and the coins enough for milk in my hand, I started running. I never went back. I got as far as I could and used the milk money to make a call from a phone box. I was lucky I had someone to call, and they came out to get me. I don’t know, even now, what snapped in me that night, maybe it was carrying a child I knew couldn’t come into this life.
Walking down that path of the abortion clinic, protesters with placards of bloodied fetuses and words of sin and murder close in. I woke later to kind staff members who referred to me as the little girl in bed one. They were right 17 was a child. I had been 16 when I started dating my abuser, a power imbalance not only in age but of the sheer control he yielded over me.
The idea that abortion is flippant and void of emotion is wrong, even if the sadness is not for the lost child but the loss of power that a woman may have felt over herself. By denying a woman the right to choose motherhood or abortion, we take away the future of that woman and the ability for her to gain power over herself again, both mind and body.
I have often wondered if I had not left that night and had an abortion, would I be alive?
I am now in my 50s and have two children in their 20s.