Allison awoke in her bed with a pounding headache. Her body felt like a Mack truck ran it over. She noticed she was half-naked, not a way she generally slept. Time passed, and when she realized she had missed her period, she made an appointment at True Care. The nurse administered a free pregnancy test, which came back positive. Allison was far enough along for the nurse to also conduct an ultrasound, and when Allison realized the dating of the pregnancy, she realized something else – she had been sexually assaulted that night, likely due to a date rape drug put into a drink or some food she’d had at the party she’d attended.

Sexual Assault in America

Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, according to the national organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network). Young women ages 18 to 34 are ones most likely to be raped or assaulted.  Date rape drugs such as rohypnol (Roofie) and ketamine are often “used to incapacitate someone for the purposes of committing a crime, often sexual assault,” according to the Cheyenne Regional Hospital website. Alcohol can also be the substance of choice for a perpetrator, however, most likely the drink will be spiked with an incapacitating drug.

Therefore, RAINN offers the advice of not accepting a drink from others, whether stranger or friend. Allison thought she could trust her ‘friend’ – however, a paternity test after her baby was born showed the young man was the father of her child. Our patient continued her pregnancy and parented the baby, and the father was jailed for the rape.

Bonnie’s Story

Bonnie also experienced rape due to a spiked drink. When she came to True Care to confirm her pregnancy, she was torn between abortion and continuing the pregnancy. The emotional trauma was overwhelming. “The assault isn’t the baby’s fault,” she told her Advocate during her appointment. “But it wasn’t mine either. I don’t know if I can carry this baby – it will remind me of what happened to me.”

After hearing all her pregnancy options and later talking with her family, Bonnie opted to make an open adoption plan. She was able to choose the family of her child and have occasional contact. That suited her – she knew her baby would be loved by its adoptive family and she could continue her healing journey and the goal she set for her life.

Pregnancy Options and Their Challenges

Challenges come with whatever choice a woman makes about her pregnancy. Some women experience physical and emotional trauma from an abortion, often regretting the decision many years later. Making an adoption plan also involves grief for after carrying a baby for nine months and then placing it into the arms of another mother and father is not an easy thing to do. Parenting also presents challenges as a woman learns to care for a child and attend to its needs. Therefore, thinking carefully through one’s options is more ideal than making a hurried, emotional decision.

Although pregnancy through rape doesn’t happen often, (some sources say one to five percent), it does take place. Sexual violence by an intimate partner may also result in pregnancy. When such a traumatic event occurs, True Care is here with compassionate care and fact-based pregnancy education. We also provide resources for our patients, whether they need counseling, a safe house, Medicaid, or a physician.

Sexual Assault Awareness

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We urge all women to follow safety suggestions provided by RAINN here: Be aware of your surroundings and try to not walk alone at night. As noted earlier, don’t accept drinks from others – get your own. And be smart about online dating sites and apps. Unfortunately, sexual predators lurk everywhere, online, on college campuses, at parties – take as much control of your life and activities as possible. Encourage your friends to do the same.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, contact the Casper Police Department, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department, or Casper’s Self Help Center.

Get the help you need, and if you suspect you’re pregnant, please contact True Care’s Scheduling Line for your free appointment: 307-215-9684.