Friday, December 19, 2014

Our Grandson -- the Light in the Darkness After Our 14 Year Old Daughter Was Raped by Angi Grogg


Four years ago, I was going through life like I had it all figured out -- perfect family, perfect job, perfect home.  Our proud military family was living the American dream -- we had it all.  On December 21, 2010 -- the darkest day of the year, everything changed for us as a family.  Little did we know our lives were forever transformed or what that ill-lighted date would come to represent.

Mother’s Day 2011 -- the memory of that day is so surreal.  It is the day I found out our 14 year old daughter Pyper had been raped by an 18 year old soldier and was pregnant as a result.  There was no going back to our perfect life, and this would be the first of many painful days for our family.

Our family has experienced too many low points over the past four years to count.  For me, the hardest is a reoccurring nightmare which happens around the same time every year in December.  Invariably, over the past three years, instead of making holiday plans, we found ourselves reacting to or reeling from some event resultant from that day in December, 2010.

In December, 2011, while joyous over the birth of our grandson Noah a few months before and looking forward to his first Christmas, we were haunted by the circumstance surrounding his conception and the fear of what the future held for us.  The process of reporting the rape to the military and civilian authorities and the investigation into happened to Pyper was in its infancy, so the wounds were still fresh.  It seemed that everything and everyone was against us.  Our friends and family questioned our choices, they blamed my husband and I for what happened, and some even abandoned us because they just couldn’t process it.  In fact, our church family urged that it would be better if we didn’t make a big issue of it -- just ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room. 

As 2012 progressed, the fight to right Pyper’s wrong intensified.  In December, 2012, we were facing one of the most daunting tasks of our lives.  No one could have prepared us for the horrors of what we were about to endure, which included a defense attorney suggesting to our daughter that she wasn't really raped because she failed to abort.  We spent the week preceding December 21st sitting in a military courtroom half-way across the country praying that our ordeal would end.  It didn’t.  What prosecutors told us should have been a slum-dunk case involving not only forcible rape, but strict liability statutory rape, inexplicably ended in a 3-3 hung jury.  In the military, this means the rapist is acquitted.  On the 21st -- that same dark date, we found ourselves packed inside a minivan, in shock and disbelief, driving a thousand miles to get back home. 

Our situation was about to get worse, as our grandson Noah was in danger.  In response to our daughter pressing charges, the rapist's attorney had filed for custody.  We'd been warned that this was a common strategy, and with the failure to obtain justice in the criminal trial, the stage had been set for a bitter custody battle in civil court.
  
Over the next twelve months, we were hit with a deluge of court documents and besieged by harassment and threats.  Each day brought a new fear -- the distress was consuming, but as our days grew darker, our resolve grew stronger.  There was no way we were going to give up!  December, 2013 found us sitting in a different courtroom, in a different town, over the same dark days as the past three years.  This time it wasn’t about right and wrong -- we were fighting for our very lives; we were fighting for Noah.  Expending every fiber of our being, down to our last breath, we battled for our precious little boy.  This time, the outcome would be different. 

On the day the court’s decision came in, we didn’t celebrate. Instead, we passed the day in reverent silence with just a few calls to the family and friends who remained.  The freedom from our tormentors was final in March, 2014, and we slowly began to regain some of what we lost; to find our new normal. 

As December, 2014 clicks by, we still find ourselves looking over our shoulders, watching and waiting; paying close attention to what is happening around us.  Our enemy is silent, but we remain vigilant; ready to fight hell itself to protect our “hand-picked” angel.  We have our little Noah -- our gift, our daughter's beauty from the ashes.

My husband has this to offer, "There is nothing that can sufficiently prepare you for the trials you face.  Although there are many horrible things that could happen, the present conflict is always the worst.  What happened yesterday is past, tomorrow is not here, focus on today and no matter what you are up against, keep pressing forward.  As a parent or grandparent, you have to stay strong and fight with an unbridled tenacity because at the end of the day, next to God, your family is all that matters."

It has been by God’s mercy and grace alone that we are where we are.  He has taken an act of iniquity and turned it into an act of goodness to bring glory to His name.  Our grandson is the ark that carried our family through our darkest days.  He has been and is the light in the darkness; the anchor given to us by God to hold us firm in our faith.


BIO:  Angi Grogg is a wife of 20 years and mother of four.  She's the co-founder and a Board Member of Hope After Rape Conception, and a national pro-life speaker and blogger for Save The 1.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How I Faked an Abortion and Escaped Sex Trafficking by Darlene Pawlik

I was trapped in the sex trafficking industry from age 14-17.  Trafficking in persons is not like any regulated industry.  It is unmitigated anarchy. There are no rules.  

I was conceived during a brutal rape and learned of it when I was very young. That knowledge and child sexual abuse by my own father and later by a maternal uncle had me feeling worth less than others and vulnerable.  I was 12 when my mother got her second divorce.  By thirteen, I’d been dabbling in drugs and alcohol, wandering the neighborhood and hanging out with a bodybuilder in a black Cadillac.  He was patient as he courted me and manipulated me into his bed.

I wasn’t held in sex trafficking with locks, bars or handcuffs, but by fear, threats and hopelessness.  I had no hope in the authorities helping me.  One apartment I stayed in was leased to the candidate for sheriff of that small city.  Some of the buyers were businessmen, a city councilman, professionals, as well as derelicts who thrived on violence and pain. 

He sold me for the first time on my fourteenth birthday. I stood in three inches of slush, my sneakers full of icy water, shivering in front of a local drug store at the end of the street where we lived waiting for Ace to pick me up.  The buyer was thrilled to know I was so young, awkward and afraid. 

Ace sold me for sex hundreds of times. He then sold me to another man who sold me for sex too. It was a quagmire of abuses, gang rape, attempted suicide, sleeplessness, huddling in doorways and church steps, drugs, drinking, arrests and foster care, and running away again.  At seventeen, I was sold to a man as a "house pet." I thought I’d be safer -- at least I would only have to serve him.  He dressed me up and took me to nice dinners.  I got a job.  Finally, I felt kind of stable, kind of normal.

He’d told me that if I got pregnant, I would have to have an abortion.  It scared me, but I didn’t feel I had any choice.

After four months, I did get pregnant.  As he slammed his fist on the wooden arm of the couch, he shouted, “I want NO life!” It was terrifying -- his voice shot right through me.  The man was a small-time organized crime boss.  He said that I would have an abortion or he’d kill me, and I knew this was true.  One of his enforcers had been my trafficker and beaten and raped me numerous times.  I made the appointment in his presence.

That evening, I literally threw my hands in the air as I cried and prayed, “God, if you’re real, please help me!”  Somehow, I fell asleep and I had a dream of an abortion in living color from the perspective of inside of the womb.  I had no knowledge of abortion at the time, but I now know that it was accurate for the level of development in great detail.  Those little hands and feet, that tiny face, the ribs and blood -- it was horrifying!  I wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember.  

When I awoke, I called everyone I could think of, going through old business cards people had once handed me.  I reached a social worker who had tried to help me as a runaway.  She found a maternity home that would take me.  Some friends would take my things to storage.  But how would I get away?  My captor insisted that we would go out to dinner after the abortion appointment.

So, the day came.  I left and made arrangements with the social worker, but I returned and got ready for dinner.  I’d been so scared that I was crying and near hysterical all day.  With my face swollen, eyes bloodshot, trembling and shallow breaths, I got into the car.  I fidgeted -- my breaths uneven.  I stuttered, as I told him that I wanted to go live with a cousin who would give me a job. “Something happened to me on that table,” I said, “I don’t want to be here anymore.”  I thought he would understand because he had told me of other girls who he’d forced to have abortions and they were let go. The whole evening, I couldn’t sit still at all because I was so afraid he’d find out.  I went to the bathroom frequently and cried through the meal, pretending to be nauseous and in pain.  On the way home, he said I could go, but if I came back to town, I would have to find him.

I moved quickly the next day.  I promised God that I would bring my children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, if my baby was okay.  She was, and I did.  People who know me today, cannot fathom that I had lived such a life.  I explain to them -- saving my baby saved my life.

BIO:  Darlene Pawlik is a wife of 24 years and mother of 5.  She's also an author, a practicing nurse, the Chair of the Educational Trust for New Hampshire Right to Life, an Executive Board Member of Personhood Alliance, the Vice-President of Save The 1, and a pro-life speaker and blogger for Save The 1.
Monday, December 15, 2014

THE PEACE CORPSE: THE INNOCENT CHILD CONCEIVED IN RAPE -- There's Nothing Peace-ful About Abortion, by Rebecca Kiessling

The liberal press and abortion advocates are presently celebrating a victory – the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate on Sat., December 13, 2014, which includes unprecedented abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape, incest and “life endangerment.”   Think Progress reports:  Government Spending Bill Quietly Resolves Peace Corps Abortion Coverage Debate .  “Quietly” – because not one GOP member of the House Appropriations Committee spoke out against it back in June, 2014, although the Republican committee members had blocked the measure in 2013.  In 2014, there was no debate to be had – the GOP committee members summarily wrote us off, allowing the discriminatory practice of targeting and killing innocent children for the crimes of our rapist fathers.

For the record, those silent Republican House Appropriations Committee members are as follows, with each one inexplicably enjoying a 100% approval rating with National Right to Life Committee on their scorecard, except for Frelinghuysen from New Jersey and Charles W. Dent from Pennsylvania who both have a 75% approval rating:

  • Harold Rogers, Kentucky, Chairman
  • Frank R. Wolf, Virginia
  • Jack Kingston, Georgia
  • Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, New Jersey 75%
  • Tom Latham, Iowa
  • Robert B. Aderholt, Alabama
  • Kay Granger, Texas
  • Michael K. Simpson, Idaho
  • John Abney Culberson, Texas
  • Ander Crenshaw, Florida
  • John R. Carter, Texas
  • Ken Calvert, California
  • Tom Cole, Oklahoma
  • Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida
  • Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania 75%
  • Tom Graves, Georgia
  • Kevin Yoder, Kansas
  • Steve Womack, Arkansas
  • Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi
  • Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska
  • Tom Rooney, Florida
  • Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee
  • Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington
  • David Joyce, Ohio
  • David Valadao, California
  • Andy Harris, MD, Maryland
  • Martha Roby, Alabama
  • Mark Amodei, Nevada
  • Chris Stewart, Utah
Please do contact them, as well as NRLC to find out why they don’t keep score of votes in support of killing children conceived in rape.  Are we really that negligible?  Who is more important to protect – children conceived in rape, or congressional Republicans?

In a Lifesitenews article covering the committee vote last June, pro-life nurse and blogger Jill Stanek strongly condemned the GOP action:  "This is outrageous. . . . The GOP, whose platform formally opposes abortion, just passed a pro-abortion bill through one of Capitol Hill's most influential committees. . . .  This might be good politics in the Beltway, but all the GOP really did was cave to feminist rhetoric and decide that throwing more taxpayer money to the abortion industry is acceptable public policy.”

In the same article, Human Life International Communications Director Adam Cassandra vehemently defended children conceived in rape and their pregnant mothers:  “further assaulting a woman who is a victim of rape with the violent act of abortion is in no way a humane or compassionate response to her situation, and taking the life of that child can never be justified."

The Peace Corps’ federal funding provision has had a no-exceptions rider in place since 1979 barring any of their funding from being used to pay for abortions – until now.  A 35-year precedent, and the Republicans stood silent.

Reporter Dustin Siggins, in Lifesitenews’ most recent article on the passage of the “Cromnibus bill”, calls the Peace Corps abortion funding “the greatest loss for pro-lifers” within the huge spending package.

 So is this now to be the standard protocol within Congress whenever a rape exception is introduced?  No objection?  None?  Congressman Chris Smith introduced the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, with the rape exception already in it.  Is this now the norm?  I pray that it’s not. 

My hope that pro-life activists will become more aware of the blatant discrimination within these congressional bills, and will rise up to object to the seemingly now-standard “exceptions.”  It shouldn’t just be the voices of those of us who actually fit into the “conceived in rape” category, because our class of persons is small.  But Jesus made it clear that it is every person’s duty to protect “the least of these,” and to leave the 99 to save the 1.

BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is a wife, mother of 5, attorney, international pro-life speaker, and founder and President of Save The 1, as well as co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception.
Monday, December 8, 2014

Raped While on a Business Trip, My Husband and I Chose Life!

Last January, I was travelling on business, staying in a little hotel in a college town.  I like to think I'm usually more aware of my surroundings, but it was so snowy and windy that I wouldn't have heard his footsteps even if he had he been stomping.  It happened so fast.  I got the door open, turned around to close it, and he was there - a huge man.  My first instinct wasn't fear, just confusion.  In an instant, he punched me in the face.  I don't remember being dragged from the room, but I was found in the stairwell.  I don't know why -- maybe I was trying to go for help.
The rape kit came back negative for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and dozens of other things I'd never heard of.  God is gracious.
The following month, I was scheduled to work on a cruise ship.  Struck with dysentery on day two and not getting better with antibiotics, I was taken to what passes for a hospital when we docked in Cartagena, Colombia.  Concerned about intestinal obstruction, I was given an ultrasound.   And we saw the pea -- my son.  Happy Valentine's Day.
Back on the ship, I told the doctors an abbreviated version of my story, which resulted in me being quarantined.  Suicide watch?  In danger of a psychotic break that will have me running naked across the shuffleboard courts?  Who knows.  What I know is that I spent the next week listening to a team of very well meaning doctors and nurses console me with how "easy" it would be to "take care of it" -- to kill the child.  To start over.  Easy???
There were a lot of things discussed over scratchy, tearful transatlantic phone calls home that week, but the possibility of "taking care of it" never came off my lips.  Or my husband's.   When I told him I was pregnant, he said with his voice calm and steady, "Okay.  Okay . . . all right . . . this is all right."  I asked him, "What do you MEAN this is all right?"  "I mean we can do this.  We'll get through this.  It'll be okay.  And, . . . I love babies.  We're going to have another baby.  Sweetheart, this is a gift.  This is something wonderful from something terrible.  We can DO this."  And I began to feel the stirrings of joy for the new life in my womb, blossoming under my heart.  That new love that would grow so fierce it overwhelmed any trepidation or angst.  And my husband was right.  We could do it.
On my last morning aboard the ship, I said to this caring team, "If you ever think about this again, if you ever wonder what happened to me -- I had a beautiful baby in October 2014."   Their reaction . . . , the looks on their faces . . . , the doctor who had pushed abortion more vehemently than the others -- she had tears in her eyes.  For the first time, I thought of how God can use this, this nightmare I'd endured.  Use me.
I live in North Carolina.  My OB who delivered my last two children was running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.  He talks to people all the time who challenge him with the "What about in cases of rape?" question.  What about them?  My son will have a voice.  Until he can use it, it's my responsibility -- my privilege -- to speak for him.  That's my story.
During my pregnancy, I was in and out of the hospital for a couple of months - more in than out.  I had preeclampsia, high blood pressure and uncontrolled seizures.  It was terrifying at 26 weeks when they admitted me saying they might have to deliver that night -- terrifying because I desperately wanted my son to live!  We got past that fear.  I had strict bed rest, but was home.  Every week we made it further was awesome, knowing how glad I'd be once he got here safely in my arms.  Emotionally, I was doing very well.
We were working with a really godly team of doctors.  It's just a matter of trusting utterly.  This wasn't new.  I'd felt completely out of control since the assault in January -- not that "control" is ever anything but an illusion, but, you know.  8-1/2 months ago the world upended and hadn't righted since -- until my son was born.  It's not a bad thing.  It keeps me on my knees, keeps me from my arrogant, self reliant "It's okay, God. I got this" attitude, which I'm so quick to adopt.
Our little boy may have been conceived in violence, but he is a gift from God -- a delicious gift that filled the hole in our family that we never realized was there.  He made us complete.
I'm so thankful to have been connected to other mothers who became pregnant by rape as well.  We are survivors.  Not victims.  My son has healed me.
The pressure to abort from the medical community was extremely eye opening to me.  So many times I was told how "simple" it would be and how quickly I could just "get on with my life" once it was over.  It was heartbreaking to have to repeatedly hear it.  Even some friends thought keeping the baby was a mistake -- that I wouldn't be able to handle things emotionally.  Every time we, as rape survivor mothers, share our stories, we are strengthened as we strengthen others. . . .  And who knows what lives might be spared?


BIO:  Jennifer Christie is a wife and mother of 5, and a blogger for www.savethe1.com.  She's using her middle name in lieu of her surname in order to protect the identity of her family.
Monday, December 1, 2014

Terminating Parental Rights of Rapists

My custody case in Florida against my rapist started in 2010 and went on for a little over two years.  Though I had a restraining order and had pursued prosecution, he was not convicted of rape.  At the time he sued for custody, I did not know how many states had no or limited legal protection at that time from a rapist biological father when the child was conceived from his attack. Those states which had laws required a rape conviction.  For me, all that counted at the time was that Florida had no legal protection at all for this.  I recall the judge asking if there was any law to prohibit this -- even a federal law --and me replying:  "Not yet, but I am working on it."

I'm one of the original co-founders of Hope After Rape Conception (HARC.)  We came up with model legislation through HARC with the "clear and convincing evidence" standard which the U.S. Supreme Court has required for terminating parental rights.   No rape conviction should be necessary -- the same as other termination of parental rights cases such as child abuse or neglect, where a criminal conviction is not mandatory.  

Having this model legislation, I contacted a friend of mine I had known and whose opinion I have valued since years ago when I was a law student at Florida State University College of Law.  Since he had also served as a Florida legislative member in the past, I asked who he recommended contacting about sponsoring our model legislation.  It was my hope that Florida could go from being one of the worst states for this situation where there was no legal protection in place to being the best.  

I followed through on that recommendation, and contacted the member of the Florida House of Representatives who was running for a seat in the Florida Senate.  Since that was an election year and some legislators were termed out from their service, we had to wait until after the election for the proposed legislation to be moved forward, but the newly-elected Senator Joseph Abruzzo followed through on his promise since he had also made this issue part of his legislative platform.  I continued to contact and share my story with legislators on both sides of the aisle in order to gather support.

Legislative members in the House and Senate were willing to get bipartisan support for the sake of the people of Florida.  Sen. Abruzzo found a house sponsor, Representative Dave Kerner.  I continued to work closely with Senator Abruzzo's office on the drafting. One thing that was needed was a better understanding of why the clear and convincing evidence standard should apply.  So, I reached out to a trusted law professor who had taught me years ago -- Professor Charles Ehrhardt at FSU.  He was eager to help during the legislative process and, since he literally wrote the Florida Evidence Code, was invaluable in helping to explain to those involved why clear and convincing evidence was the correct legal standard.

It became my personal goal to get this law passed with unanimous bipartisan support because I wanted Florida to set the example of turning things around for my daughter's sake, and for everyone else who was in this situation of choosing life and raising a child conceived in rape here in Florida -- so that they could be set free from the rapist.  Sharing my personal story with the legislature definitely made a difference -- especially because in Florida it is the "best interest of the child" that is of primary importance.  Here is some of what I shared with these state leaders:

Years ago I was raped and then learned that I had become pregnant as a result of his attack.  I thought that I had fought him off successfully despite the pain throughout every fiber of my body.  I fought to make him stop.  He would not.  I was eventually rendered unconscious from his attack.  He even subsequently broke into my home and pointed a gun at my pregnant belly threatening to kill “it” now or later if I did not drop the prosecution against him.

More than half a decade later, during which time there was no contact with my child by the man who raped me -- which is how she was conceived, there he was in a Florida court asking for visitation and all other parental rights to which he should have never been entitled.  I was horrified and shocked.  How could this now be possible when it was not before?  And how could the laws of the state where he raped me and where she was born -- Louisiana, which had kept us protected from this terror no longer seemed to matter?  It was because we were now Florida residents.  The State of Florida did not have any laws that would protect my child from suddenly being forced into a relationship with her biological father who raped me, and the State forced me to relive through this court action the circumstances of her conception, which resulted from his attack.

The absence of any legal protection for us here in Florida allowed this traumatic nightmare to happen.  I felt the same horror of being raped by him again, only this time it was through a Florida court where I had it explained to me by those involved that he had "only" raped me and not the child, and he is equal to every other father in Florida under the law -- that he had equal rights to her just as any biological father in Florida would and is therefore not deprived of his rights here since we reside in this state.  Even his past and future threats of harm he made did not matter because the child had not yet been born when that occurred, so therefore the child did not experience this directly since I had been merely pregnant with her at the time that occurred.  This was the logical explanation I was repeatedly given as everything in my body and soul screamed, "Why is this legal and how is this possibly in her 'best interest' ever?!"

I contacted grass roots activists and key individuals who are in Tallahassee government relations.  I shared my story for the legislative members and committees.  I kept saying we need unanimous bipartisan support and that I want Florida to go from being a state with no protection to having the best.  I was driven for my firstborn and by my love for all my children.  The biggest legislative obstacle was a legislator who wanted a competing bill which would have had the legislation only apply to future cases and, therefore, it wouldn't protect my daughter. So I was certain to continue advocating and got others to help get his alternate bill thrown out.  I was relentless, I persevered, and in the end, I got what I asking for:  the law protecting me and my daughter -- and all other Florida rape victim mothers and their children -- passed in 2013 with unanimous bipartisan support and reflects our model legislation from HARC!

After the law was passed in Florida in 2013, it became the state that not only had the model legislation we were seeking nationally through Hope After Rape Conception, but Florida is also where the first federal legislation on this issue originated:  Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz proposed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, echoing the Florida law, with the clear and convincing evidence standard.  And just like at the state level, she immediately reached across party lines and had a co-sponsor from the Republican side, U.S. Representative Marino.  I was invited to participate in a press conference at a rape crisis center to share my story and be a part of this journey forward from the terror I had survived before.  Video footage:  http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/09/04/wasserman-schultz-urges-the-protection-of-rape-survivors-parental-rights/   Currently, the bill is not moving forward and must be reintroduced during the next session of Congress.

Every pro-life organization needs to be behind our model legislation, making it a legislative priority.  Even though we had bi-partisan support, the law is pro-life in effect.  If pregnant rape victims know that their State protects them from the rapist having parental rights, they will be less likely to choose abortion.  The FL House sponsor, Rep. Kerner, was quoted by the press as saying that this new law can hopefully encourage those in this same situation to choose life.  Furthermore, it's a prime opportunity for 100% pro-life legislators to show how much concern they have for pregnant rape victims -- by protecting them from the rapist.


BIO:  Analyn Megison is a graduate of Florida State University College of Law.  In her second year of law school, she was a visiting student at Georgetown University Law Center and interned with a federal judge in Washington, D.C..    She was appointed as the Special Assistant on Women's Policy for the Office of  the Governor of Louisiana, and she currently serves on a Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force in Florida.   She's a pro-life speaker, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception and a blogger for Save The 1.