When I was thirteen, I was taken and repeatedly raped for about 24 hours.
It was summer in a small town almost 20 years ago, so no one noticed I was missing. Too scared to tell my parents, and not understanding what happened or what to do, I used all my paper route money to take a taxi about thirty miles to a Planned Parenthood the next town over.
I knew they could help me; I had seen their flyers once, in a booth at the county fair.
When I arrived beat up, cut up, and bruised, they let me use the phone. I called my parents and told them I was staying over at a friend’s house.
The women at the clinic bandaged me up, extensively. They cleaned the cuts, the abrasions on my wrists, the scrapes on my cheeks. They cleaned up a couple cigarette burns. They iced my bruised and swollen face. They talked me through my first physical. They tested me for sexually transmitted diseases. They gave me the morning after pill.
I’m in my late twenties, which means I’d have an adolescent child now, had I gotten pregnant.
One of the women there gave me a ride back to my little town, and I stayed at a friend’s house for a couple days, until I could pass for having fallen off my bike.
I know what they did was borderline illegal, due to my age. But, I am forever grateful.
I know now that I could have told my parents, but I wasn’t ready.
It was MY choice.
And those women, those wonderful, courageous women who held me while I sobbed, who cleaned my cuts and bandaged me up, who held my hair back while I got sick, who held ice on my face and cradled me until I stopped shaking, who wrapped me in blankets and made me feel safe and strong and capable and whole and human again, they are heroes.
I will forever stand with Planned Parenthood, because they stood with me, even when I couldn’t stand for myself.
I also marched for my loved ones, my friends and family, especially those who are people of color and members of the lqbtq community. I marched for immigrants, who are some of the people I hold most dear in this community.
I march, I RESIST.
I will never back down from this fight.