Rape survivor who had her child tells her story

Patti Harrison is from Toronto, Canada. At age 14 she was brutally raped by multiple men, but she had her baby. Her son, Austin, is now 25.

In a speech sponsored by two Canadian pro-life clubs, she gave her testimony:

“I was born and raised in Ontario, and we moved shortly after to a town called Oshawa… It’s just about half an hour, 40 minutes outside of Toronto.

So, growing up was a pretty normal childhood besides the fact that I was dealing with some undiagnosed mental illness. And [I] had two parents. Both worked. Two brothers. We got along pretty well. But I didn’t get along with my parents, and I broke almost every rule they set in place for me, which made living at home hard. And when I was 14, we got in a huge fight and I was thrown out.

It was wintertime, and it was cold. I was looking for a place to stay, and I had a friend who knew somebody from high school that had their own apartment, and so I went there.

Well, when I got there, it was about midnight, and there was partying going on. And a little girl, she must’ve been about five, six years old answered the door and let me in. And took me by the hand, and we fell asleep watching TV on the couch together.

I heard a woman screaming, and I went to see what was going on. And when I got up the stairs, there was a man with a woman who was performing oral sex on him while he was injecting drugs into her arm. And I startled them.
So I was thrown down the stairs, and the rest of that night is pretty blurry. I remember bits and pieces of light and darkness. The door opening, the light from the hallway coming in. But I was left in a room in a basement, tied up, and left there.

A couple of days must’ve gone by and a lady came in who was a prostitute who would visit the house frequently to buy drugs, and she bought McDonald’s. The guy that was in charge I guess, he didn’t like the fact that she was talking to me, so he said that if I wanted to associate with the prostitutes, I’d be treated like one. And they tied me up and they raped me and took turns. That went on all night.

The next day I was allowed to take a bath. I was escorted to the bathroom by the guy that was always there…

A few days later I was taken out for a walk. And during that time, I had to carry little bits and pieces of things in my mouth. We would approach someone and I would have to spit one of the things that were in my mouth on the ground, and they would pick them up and take them away. At this time, I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t have any education at all where it came to drugs or sex or anything. I was 14 years old.

The police had actually cornered us at the corner of King Street, right by the Harvey’s downtown Oshawa in the snow, and I had to swallow all the little bits of pieces that I had in my mouth. The police searched us and let us go, and I had to rush back to the house where for two more days I was kept in the room and had to search through my stool to find the pieces that I had swallowed, and found out that it was actually crack cocaine that I was trafficking for these guys.

Finally, one of the girls that my mom bowled with showed up at the house, and she grabbed me and we left.

It was really scary the whole time I was there. I wasn’t treated like a human being. I was beaten. I was raped. I was brutalized, and I wasn’t treated like a human being.

So all of this coming into play kind of triggered what happened next. I went into a really deep depression, and I tried to commit suicide. I took a lot of pills, and I drink a lot of alcohol. I ended up in the emergency room with my mom. And the doctors in the emergency room told me that I was pregnant.
I was in shock because I had seen a doctor before that told me I couldn’t get pregnant. And then all of a sudden, now I’m pregnant. And so, my mom, she was in shock. And my father’s family asked me to abort because, number one, my son was biracial, more than likely, because all the men that were in and around the house this time that I was raped were black. And number two, he wasn’t going to have a father and I was only 14.

So when I had him, I was 15. I chose to keep him. I went against my family.

My mom took me to a little place called the Rose of Durham in Oshawa. It’s a facility for mothers that are young, teenage mothers. And they really were amazing. They gave me the courage to go through the pregnancy after each doctor that I had seen for my ultrasounds and my bloodwork told me that I should have an abortion, that my son was going to be deformed, that he wasn’t going to be healthy, that he wouldn’t make it to birth, that I was only 15 years old and I had my whole life ahead of me – they gave me every excuse not to keep him, but not one to keep him.

So when I met the people at the Rose of Durhum, they gave me the courage to think I can actually do this. I can be a mom to my son. No one warned me about what would happen after I had him, though. Because the depression, from having all of the stuff that happened, was catching up to me, and I was terrified. I was terrified to be a parent. And my mom stepped up, and said that I wasn’t alone and that we would do it together.

And I ended up having him.… He’s absolutely amazing.…

Was it difficult raising my rapist’s baby? At first it was, because that’s all I could see; I couldn’t get past what happened to me. [But] once I saw the sonograms and once I started to feel him move inside of me, and once I gave birth, all that basically went away. Because, just the feeling of love that sweeps over you – it just was remarkable.

And I don’t think for one second aborting him would’ve done me any good. Because it wouldn’t have stopped the fact that I had been raped, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that I was only a young teenager, it wouldn’t have changed anything.

My message to girls out there, and people who say, what if she’s raped, or what if it’s incest or what if it’s something unspeakable – well you know what? The baby doesn’t deserve the death penalty for something somebody else did. And 90% of the time, it’s not rape, it’s not incest, it’s convenience…

It baffles my mind that we are in such a cancel culture, that we can just cancel the life of a child because it’s inconvenient for us at the time. And that’s what people were trying to get me to do. Use the fact that I was raped, and use all those horrible, terrible things that happened to me, to scare me into deleting a part of my life that, he’s so amazing.…

Choosing the life of a child is never hard. It’s never hard. Growing up having that boy look at you and seeing yourself in your child isn’t hard… I just want to promise everyone out there, there is an alternative. You don’t have to choose abortion.

That’s my story. I’m not the only one. I hope that if somebody’s hearing this, and you have a friend, even if you’re contemplating having an abortion yourself, there’s so many places. You’re never alone. You’re never, ever alone. There’s so many places that will help you. There’s so many people that will help you. It’s a remarkable thing. It really is, to choose life.”

She gives credit to counseling and prayer for her healing, talking to your friends, talking about it and not bottling it in, and to:

“keep the lines of communication open with your friends and don’t keep it a secret, because the more people know about what you are going through, the more people that can help you with it. So make sure your friends are aware of what’s going on with you.

And just be open and honest. Say, “this is where I’m at. This is what happened, and this is where I’m at in life, and this is what I need. This is what I need from you.”

How did your family react when you decided to keep your baby?

“Well, my mom was okay with it. My dad’s father said that if I didn’t have an abortion I’d be disowned. So I still don’t talk to my biological grandfather. They never got over what happened. A few of my mom’s side of the family kind of turned their nose up about it, but mostly my father’s family. I was called a bad influence. I was told that by keeping my child and having a baby at such a young age I was a bad influence for my other cousins. Yeah. I didn’t have an easy time with it. But my mom and dad were amazing. They really were amazing.

My mom was in the delivery room when my son was born. She actually got to cut his umbilical cord. It was pretty cool.”

What advice would you give to a young woman facing a crisis pregnancy?

“Turn to your community. Turn to your family. If you don’t have family, there’s always, within a town or two from you, there’s always a crisis pregnancy center or program that they can get you in touch with… You can reach out to your community centers, and there’s moms to moms groups – there’s so much help for people out there nowadays that you don’t have to choose abortion.”

Asked what was hardest about choosing life.

“My grandpa and I were super close when I was a kid, and knowing that I wasn’t going to have that kind of relationship with my grandfather anymore.

Being a mom as a teenager isn’t easy because you now have another person that you have to take care of. So you don’t get to just up and go and hang out with your friends unless you bring a baby with you, or you have a good babysitter at home, like your mom or something.

But it’s so amazing at the same time. Because you’ve got this perfect example of God’s love for you. You’ve got innocence and purity and everything, everything good about yourself staring up into your face. His love for me healed me so quickly. It’s hard, but it’s so rewarding. It’s so, so, so rewarding. He’s a pretty cool guy.”

Asked, “Did you ever think of having an abortion for a second?”

“When the doctors were telling me that my son wasn’t going to survive. That his spine wasn’t attached to the back of his neck, that his internal organs weren’t developing right, that me keeping the pregnancy was just cruel. I did think for one second, would he be better off if I just had an abortion. Then, right away, something inside of me, every ounce of my being was screaming, no. No. He’s gonna be just fine.… They didn’t let anyone go into the ultrasound with me. They always made me go in by myself. And the doctors weren’t very nice.”

Asked how she would respond to those who wanted to silence her voice. Why was it important to listen to the stories of survivors?

“[The pro-choice claim is] it’s cruel and unusual punishment to make me raise my rapist’s baby. It’s not though. For starters, that baby is half you. That baby is half of your flesh and blood. That baby is half you. You don’t have to think of the baby as your rapist’s baby, for starters.
And everybody should be able to hear both sides of the story. Yes, I was raped. Does my son deserve to die for the choice somebody else made? And the answer is no.…

The baby inside of me is not my body. It’s just inside of my body. The baby has its own DNA. It has its own heartbeat. It has its own blood type. It is its own person. The baby has every single right to the same rights and freedoms as we have…, as a toddler has that’s walking around.”

Asked if the doctors who said they would be something terribly wrong with her son were lying to get her to abort or if they really believed something was wrong.

“I have no idea. I don’t know. I know that my son was born 7 lbs. 14 oz., perfectly healthy. I don’t know if they saw something on an early ultrasound scan. I know that I had a lot of ultrasounds, and physicals, a lot of blood work. I was very tiny, so I wasn’t growing as fast as they would’ve liked me to grow. So they might have thought that he was small. But as for all the other stuff, I’m sure they were just telling me what they wanted me to hear so that I would have the abortion. Because they were pressing very, very hard for me to have an abortion.”

Asked how her son dealt with or overcame the trauma.

“When Austin was… I think he was six, he wanted to know why my ex-husband wouldn’t come to any of his play stuff at school or his sporting events or anything like that. And one of my family members told him, “Well, don’t worry Austin, that’s not your real dad anyway. Your real dad is just some jerk that hurt your mom, and you don’t have to worry about seeing him.”

So my son wanted to know at that time, what are they talking about, my real dad? Sean’s my dad.

We had to sit down and explain to him that no, when mommy was really young, something really bad happened, but that didn’t make him bad at all. He was his own person. I asked him if…he would ever want to go and look for his biological father. And at the time he said, “No, mom. No. I don’t want to.” And he never really has. He’s 25, and he’s never given us the indication that he wants to know who his biological father is. Because honestly, I don’t know… He’s never really cared, because the way he looks at it is, my husband has been his father since he was really young, and he’s a great dad. And he’s not missing out on anything. So why would he really care about that? He’s never really given me any indication that my circumstances, the circumstances that brought him into this world affected him at all.

My children are all extremely pro-life. They’ve been very vocal with their family and their friends about the fact that they are pro-life and they don’t believe in abortion. They don’t believe that that’s a choice at all.”

Share on Facebook

Author: Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a writer for Live Action and a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life Network. She lives in NJ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

one + three =