Rape, Abortion and “Frozen” -by KY Born (TW for Rape, Stalking, Violence)

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS DESCRIPTIONS OF RAPE, STALKING AND VIOLENCE. PLEASE DON’T READ THIS IF IT WILL BE UPSETTING FOR YOU.

First, let me just say this right up front: I am madly in love with the movie “Frozen”, especially the song “Let It Go.”  What does this have to do with abortion, you may ask? Anybody who has read any of my posts knows that I tend to meander and take a long time to get to the point. This is going to be one of those times. If you have something better to do, or just think I’m overreacting, then I would suggest you move on. If not, well here it is. The whole story. The rape, the abortion and the reason I am letting go to tell it on this blog.

Before antis or anybody else goes, “What?’, and says “OMG! YOU AREN’T PRO-CHOICE BECAUSE YOU ONLY ADVOCATE FOR ABORTION IN CASES OF RAPE!!”, please chill out and read the rest. I am telling my story only. Everyone else’s story is their own and I don’t care why those women in the lobby with me, or women in lobbies in clinics all over the country are there. It is none of my business.

Back to “Frozen” now. I always adored Elsa. I loved how she felt like she had this secret she had to keep, this image she had to portray and the joy she felt at not having to do this anymore. This is what I’m feeling now, so when I listen to “Let It Go” I’m certainly not referring to the power to freeze stuff, but I am referring to the ability to stop trying to be the person people expect me to be and hiding something that was not my fault like some shameful secret. You see, Elsa did not ask to be born with her powers any more than I asked to be raped and become pregnant.

So while this movie has nothing to do with rape or abortion, the idea of having to keep secrets, be perfect and be ashamed of things not your fault you can’t cope with rings long and loud with me.

I won’t bore you with the entire song, just most of it. While I have posted a trigger warning at the beginning, I will say again that if you are a rape victim who is triggered you may want to skip this post because I am letting it all go.

So when I listen to this song, I hear Elsa sing “the wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.”  She isn’t talking about what I was thinking years ago right after it happened and my “legitimate rape” got me knocked up, but she has the same feelings and thoughts. Do I tell? Do I ask for help? Do I report this rape? How will this change the way people think of me because I had a few consensual sexual encounters with this man? Will my father kill him? So I do what good girls do, I keep it all inside. Our justice system, while improving, is not particularly kind to rape victims. Everyone has a right to a good defense. I just wasn’t in a position to have my entire private life shoved out in a public trial, so I didn’t report.

Elsa sings “don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel.” I know exactly what this animated character is feeling. I wore a turtleneck to work to cover up the bruises on my neck. I never told anybody about the nights I sat in the Wal-Mart parking lot weeping for an hour. I was afraid to get out of my car because my rapist was still stalking me. I lived in the same apartment for three more years because I refused to be defeated. Smart? Probably not, but I am a stubborn creature and in spite of the stalking it was my way of fighting back.

After what seemed like 100 years of night terrors, they finally stopped. I got therapy. It helped, to some degree to let part of it go. So it is true that “it’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small and the fear that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”  I’m not afraid to go out by myself at night. I’m not afraid to be home alone at night. I’m not afraid to go to Kroger at 3 AM because I have insomnia and know it will be empty. I let the fear go. I don’t have to fake it anymore. The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all. OK. Mostly they don’t.

Now let’s skip ahead. I have so much more I could say about rape and stalking, but that is for another time. Even though only one can’t get pregnant by “legitimate rape” because our women’s bodies shut the whole thing down, I did. I don’t have regular periods, but I knew it within two weeks because I puked morning, noon and night. Every single time I puked I relived the rape.

I knew what I was going to do immediately. Abortion. Even though I had family support and it is likely my rapist/stalker would have married me and would have wanted the child, my decision was made. I told no one. The nearest clinic was over an hour away in another state. I immediately called Planned Parenthood and scheduled an abortion that couldn’t be done for 4 more weeks because this particular clinic did not offer medication abortion yet. I didn’t even know my blood type so I had to make an extra trip. Luckily, I was a workaholic with a huge pile of PTO time.

Once I had made the trip to the clinic for blood typing, there was another hurdle. I needed someone to drive me after the procedure even though I was only having local anesthesia. I realized I could pay a homeless man to sign for me as my driver, because of my decision to tell no one who knew me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always been pro-choice, but when you are a sheltered girl from small-town Kentucky who moves to a slightly bigger town to go to college and then stays there, but has to go to the Big City get “that thing” done, it is still scary.

I still blamed myself for opening the door the night he banged on it for 15 minutes thinking I didn’t want to disturb my neighbors. I had to be a good girl. I had to not disturb anybody with my personal problems. I opened the door hoping he would be quiet. Oh, he got quiet and so did I. It is hard to scream when a man twice your size has his hand around your throat. I blamed myself for years. I have finally stopped. I finally let it go.

The end of my story comes with the abortion. I’ll spare you the details of knowing I was pregnant. Why I took the test? I’m still not sure. My periods are and have always been irregular unless I was on hormonal birth control, which gave me pregnancy symptoms. Keep in mind before you decide against any form of hormonal birth control, I am a rare special snowflake when it comes to medication side effects. Mostly, women go about their daily lives with no problems. Sigh. Envy.

Anyway, I being the good girl who kept her two consensual sexual partners a secret, as well as her rape, also kept her fear of being pregnant a secret. However, you can bet your ass the day my erratic period SHOULD usually but didn’t appear I ran down to the store and got a pregnancy test. That faint pink line that changed my life. I went to get more tests. All faint pink lines. That and puking hit reality home. There was nothing to do but make that appointment. The decision was actually made before I ever took the test.

So here I am, letting it go.

I’ll tell you there were about 12 of us in the waiting room. One woman was teary. A few were stoic. A few leaned on the man with them. Why were they there? None of my business. To tell the truth, I wasn’t feeling very chatty. I kept my nose in a book, eagerly awaiting my name to be called for a procedure I had heard was awful, terrible and painful with no anesthesia. I felt alone, but somehow my aloneness gave me power. I knew when this was over I could “walk away and slam the door.”

Me, being me, had made sure to be the first to check in and the first up at bat. I’m not sure how I managed to walk down that hall, undress or get in the stirrups. I suppose we all do what we have to do. One of the things I had to do for myself, not because the law mandated it, was see the ultrasound. Don’t listen to what the antis tell you. The clinic WILL let you see your ultrasound if you ask. Seeing my own little sea monkey in there actually gave me peace of mind.

I won’t say the procedure was something I would do for shits and giggles. I will say it was over in about five minutes and I received excellent care with no complications at all. I don’t know where my homeless faux driver went, but after a few minutes in recovery I went to my car to begin the drive home. Think what you want of me, but halfway home I realized I was hungry. I pulled off the exit midway home and ate four cheeseburgers and a large order of fries from the McDonald’s drive-through on the way home.

No puking. It was my first step to letting go.

I’ll be honest, I still have trouble reading these antis who say giving birth to a rape baby “heals” the woman. Maybe it does for some women. It wouldn’t have for me. Honestly, those four weeks waiting were horrid not because I knew I was on abortion countdown, but because I knew the spawn of that man was inside me. If any lurking antis have a comment about “death penalty for crimes of the father”, all I can say is shove it. There was no baby. There was a woman who desperately needed an abortion. There was a woman who had night terrors. There was a woman who held elderly patients’ hands as they died and worked with abused children long after this happened.

If that abortion hadn’t happened, that woman would not be here. If I had to walk through an awful gauntlet it would have broken me into pieces. I would not be the woman who has helped more people than CPCs, abortion protesters and blowhards like Jill Stanek, Lila Rose and the whole of AHA.

I have helped more people than they ever will. I don’t care what they think of me or if I pop up on their Google alerts. They are profiting from abortion as well and they are the hypocrites and the Pharisees Jesus preached about. They pray and preach loudly, but make money off the same industry they condemn. If it should cease to exist, so would their livelihood. Hypocrites, every one. Praying loudly on street corners or the modern version, the internet, so everyone can see how pious and merciful they are. Yup, we “pro-aborts” read the Bible as well and I still consider myself a Christian. A Jesus Christian. Not the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus anti so-called Christian protesters worship, but the dude who said to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” I doubt Jill Stanek, Lila Rose or the vast network of “groups not a group” AHA who seem to be making big money off of their opposition to abortion are what Christianity is about.

So here I am. Letting it go. If you are a rape victim, I’m sorry if I triggered you. If you are not a rape victim, don’t take this as a sign that I think abortion is only acceptable in those cases.

You know when abortion is acceptable? When the woman gestating the pregnancy decides she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Period. End of story. This is just my story and every woman who goes down that sidewalk has another story that is none of my business.

I once read an anti-post that said a woman claimed she didn’t think about the rape but remembered the abortion every day. She needs therapy. I can tell you the year, day, hour and minute I was raped. I couldn’t tell you the day I had an abortion. I didn’t need a widdle-bitty baby to cuddle and heal me. I needed an abortion.

So here I am. Letting it go.

I had an abortion. I didn’t check the “rape/incest” box because I didn’t want it to flag any need for further discussion of the issue. I made an appointment for an abortion and I was going to get one.

I don’t regret it nor do the hundreds of lives I have made better. That could never have happened if I had been broken into pieces by “peaceful sidewalk counseling.”

I didn’t need a baby. I didn’t need a non-medical ultrasound. I didn’t need to report this to the police to validate my experience. I didn’t need others to tell me what to do.

What did I need?

To let it go.

There are a lot of women and girls with more and less traumatic experiences who need to let it go on their terms. If they come to you, don’t judge. It isn’t your journey.

But this? This grammatically incorrect post is me letting go. If you are a woman who is feeling guilt about rape and/or abortion I encourage you to join me in letting it go. It took me three months to write this post but for the first time in many years I feel free.

So should every rape victim and every person who has an abortion.

 

 

Buffer Zone Laws

I’m sure you already know the Supreme Court is debating whether or not buffer zone laws are legal for abortion clinics, or if they violate the First Amendment.  I’m a bit disheartened and already tired of reading about it ~ tired of worrying about it.

I am afraid we’re going to lose this one.

Not that it makes any difference, here in Louisville.  We don’t have a buffer zone , and absolutely no expectation of getting one.  So my level of frustration and anger about the way this is going may be inordinately high.

It’s frustrating that the media acts like the protesters are just a few elderly women, gently “counseling” the clients as they pass by.  Maybe that’s what it’s like in Massachusetts.    In Louisville, we don’t just have a couple of “harmless old ladies.”  In Louisville, even our “old ladies” aren’t particularly harmless – they can be mean, nasty and physically aggressive.  The rest of our protesters are the poster children for “Reasons to have Buffer Zones.”

350-reasons-why

If the buffer zone law is overturned, think about how much louder, more verbally aggressive, and more obnoxious our protesters may become.  I know, that’s  hard to imagine, but it could happen.  And they’ll be cocky about it.  You know they will.

Sigh…

But that’s not what really gets me.  What really gets me is that IT’S NOT FAIR!  People SHOULD NOT have to put up with being harassed and being intimidated on the way to the doctor.  It’s WRONG!!  They should feel safe – and be safe!  The court is SUPPOSED to PROTECT people!!

{I think I mentally stomp my foot a couple of times while I’m thinking that, which is about as close to a tantrum as I get.  In real life, I might throw in the F-word too. Supposed to FRIGGING protect people!!}

Then this annoyingly reasonable voice in my head says, “Right, it’s not fair, life’s not fair, the fair comes in August, blah, blah, blah.”   That same voice says, “It would be nice if the court were able to protect people, and keep them from being harassed and intimidated, but that may not happen.  If it doesn’t – if they overturn the buffer zone laws, what can we do to push back?”

Sigh.  Ok, if I have to be reasonable… here’s what we do.

We keep working on the laws.  We keep fighting the injustices that are introduced in the legislature over and over.  We keep finding ways to support people who need abortions, financially, by helping with transportation and interpreters and childcare.  We keep speaking out to reduce stigma.

But on the sidewalk (where it’s going to be a delightful 19 degrees tomorrow morning) how do we stay focused, how do we continue to be ok, no matter what happens?  What do we offer the clients ~ the ones who pull their hoods up, the ones who cry, the ones who laugh, and the ones who yell at the protesters as we walk with them?

Sigh…

We do the same thing we’ve been doing; we offer the same thing we’ve been offering.  A calm, supportive presence.

It doesn’t matter what they do.  It doesn’t matter if there are buffer zones or not, it doesn’t matter if the protesters are meaner, uglier and nastier than they’ve ever been before.  All we have to do is be there.

All we have to do is hold space for the clients to be empowered as they walk to the clinic.  To work to de-escalate situations.  To stay calm, purposeful and focused.    Just like we try to do every week.

I’ll carry those words tomorrow like a mantra.  Hold space for the client to be empowered… De-escalate situations… Stay calm, purposeful and focused…  It won’t be easy, but I can do that.

Road Rally a Success!

A great time was had by all at the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, November 2nd. On a beautiful fall day, we had a fantastic turnout and an awesome slate of speakers who fired up the crowd in advance of the 2014 legislative session. Truly, we could not have asked for better weather on a November weekend.
Capitol
Many thanks to all our speakers for their thoughtful words.
Road Rally Speakers
Dawn Cooley, minister at First Unitarian Church in Louisville, spoke about the intersection of faith and reproductive rights, emphasizing that the right-wing evangelicals do not possess the morality of reproductive issues.
DerekAndFrede
Derek Selznick (left), from the ACLU of Kentucky really heated up the crowd as he spoke to his experience lobbying for family-positive legislation in the Capitol, the building on which steps we rallied. F (right) spoke movingly about her abortion experience that was rife with hurdles and complications, problems arising primarily from anti-woman legislation.
ClinicEscortatRally
Michelle Kinsey Bruns joined us, who tweets as @ClinicEscort, driving from Washington, D.C. to be a part of the action. Her words about moving from compassion were a beautiful cap on the day.
Mel
We are thankful to have had media coverage from the Lexington ABC affiliate, WTVQ, and from Kentucky Public Radio, whose story can be followed on the Louisville public radio station or WKYU. It is important that our message reach both legislators and like-minded citizens.
Merch
Specifically, in Kentucky, there is an immediate concern of which to keep abreast. A longtime reproductive rights activist, Kathy Stein, has been appointed to the judiciary. Her vacant seat will be filled in a special election on December 10th. Many of our District 13/Fayette County (Lexington) allies were busy knocking on doors on Saturday, in the run-up to that special election. We are following that race closely, as Stein’s vote was often an important one in blocking anti-family, anti-woman legislation in our State Senate.
PreacherAndHerPulpit

What’s Next

Rally attendees were encouraged to return to their homes and speak out about being supporters of reproductive rights. You can join in the next steps, too!

1. Invite two or three friends for coffee or lunch and chat about an article on reproductive rights. RHRealityCheck.org is a great place to find something to talk about, as is ReproductiveRights.org or ACLU.org/reproductive-freedom.

2. From these two or three friends and you, begin an activist club, where you meet regularly to discuss articles, learn about legislation, and keep up-to-date on what’s happening in court dockets.

3. Find out who your legislator is – on the state level and the national level. How are they voting on issues about reproductive rights? Make sure your voice is heard when they have bills to consider that affect reproductive rights.

4. Keep up-to-date on bills in congress. For Kentucky, specifically, you can see what bills have been prefiled or, once the legislature is in session, what bills have been filed, what’s being heard in committee, what is being voted on, who wrote the bills, who else is sponsoring them – in other words, more information than you ever thought you could learn in one spot. By clicking on different subject headings – Women, Public Health, Children, etc – you can keep yourself informed about what our representatives in Frankfort are doing. Better yet, sign up for BILL WATCH, a service that your tax dollars are subsidizing, so, you know, use it!

5. Get involved with a local group! Find a group near you that is working on reproductive rights. The ACLU of Kentucky has an email list that will send out email blasts about pending legislation, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a great resource, too. There are many other groups, like the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Unitarian Univeralist Social Justice Network, and others. Many of them sponsored the rally, so be sure to check out the sponsors’ page on the website to find links to their websites.
Sara
Over the coming days and weeks, the rallly website will have a new tab for “What’s Next,” where this information, and more!, will be available. We will be posting resources to keep you informed, and ways you can link into local groups working for reproductive rights.

Let’s make 2014 the year that Kentucky families get the support they need – in comprehensive sex education, affordable and accessible contraception, access to abortion services, and family support programs – because Kentucky families deserve better!

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/21/13}

We frequently see clients and companions respond to the words spoken by the antis. Sometimes they respond with politeness to the questions the antis ask them. Sometimes they respond with their own biblical quotes to counter what the anti is saying. Sometimes they respond with well-thought out responses for the questions the antis bring up. Sometimes they respond with emotional pleas to just listen to them. Sometimes they respond with anger. Sometimes they respond with tears. Sometimes they respond with sarcasm. Frequently, it is a combination of several of these approaches.

One morning we had a client who responded with all of these approaches. The client had been to the clinic earlier in the week and heard all of the things the antis normally say. D particularly gave them a hard time. This time they had thought about their responses and were ready and eager to confront the antis, especially D.

The client and their companions arrived about 30 minutes before the doors of the clinic opened. They went immediately to the door because the client wanted to talk to D. The next 30 minutes in front of the clinic were confrontational, chaotic, sad and upsetting. Some of the words and actions of the client were purposely shocking even to escorts. After all, she had a couple of days to think about what they had said to her before. The client’s words and actions served the purpose of causing all but one anti to back away from her and leave her alone. D retreated early, but was still talking about it to other antis 3 days afterwards.

Two things stand out in my mind from the morning.

One was the client’s response to, “Have you considered adoption?” The reply was, “What? Do you want me to spend the rest of my life asking every child I pass on the street, “Are you my baby? Are you?” I don’t think so.”

The other thing that stands out was the waves of hurt and anger in equal parts coming from the client. She was vocal about being angry and hurt for being judged and shamed by the antis without knowing her or her story.

An escort spoke to her after she went into the clinic to make sure she was okay. She was pleased she was able to speak up for herself, but was still upset the antis even thought they had a right to question her and her decision, let alone film her as she waited by the door. The escort explained the policy of public sidewalks and filming, but it still isn’t right to invade her privacy so completely.

I’ll be thinking about this client for a long time.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/14/13}~by KYCat

It had been a fairly quiet weekday morning. There was the usual quietly hissed insults to the various escorts that morning from the regular antis, but no episodes of loud screaming and chasing of clients; just the trailing, waving pamphlets and pleading.

I was standing on the corner about three minutes after eight; chatting with two of the other escorts; catching up on plans for the upcoming rally on November 2nd.

Further down the sidewalk I spotted a confident yet concerned woman heading towards us. She had two companions following her lead as she strode up to us.

“Can I ask you a question” she directed at me. “Sure,” I replied, hoping it was not going to be something that I did not know, like where the nearest good coffeehouse was or any of the other things I have been asked while standing around looking official in my orange vest.

She said, “I have been told that the ultrasound costs 300 dollars and that I could get a free one here.” pointing to the CPC on the corner. She held tightly to her purse and the tension in her voice and hands were obvious when she said, “I only have enough money for the procedure. I don’t have an extra 300 dollars.”

I quickly realized that she had spoken with someone at the CPC. Fearing that she did not have sufficient funds for the total procedure, she wanted to get further confirmation before turning the corner and drawing the attention of the antis still gathered at the door of the clinic.

“No,” I replied. “The ultrasound is included in the cost of the procedure at the clinic.” I added that even if she thought she could save some of the cost by getting a free one, the CPC was not a medical facility and it would not be accepted by EMW if she did decide to go through with the abortion.

It is a deceptive scare tactic, I explained. They know that you have had to make many arrangements to get here today; sometimes at great expense and time traveled for patients. They have been known to delay women so long that mistakenly go there first, they miss the check-in time for their scheduled appointment. This puts yet another burden on the clients once they realize they have been deceived as they have to reschedule and take yet more time and expense to obtain their abortion.

She looked at us and a huge smile broke out across her face and she let out a big sigh. “Then I dò have enough money.  I was worried that I would not be able to have this today. They lied.”

I asked if she would like us to walk with them. “Yes.” she replied and took the lead with a renewed  purpose in her stride, seemingly knowing that anything further spoken to her by the antis would just be more of the same.

It was a good way to end the morning. Walking with a client that made the decision that was best for her with plain old facts; no guilt, no shame, no personal questions. Just factual answers to her questions.

I am beginning to think some of these antis must be avid fishermen on the days they don’t come to the sidewalk to harass clients. They sure do tell some big fish tales.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {9/23/13}

Some mornings lots of little things add up to lighten the mood of escorts. It does help that we all have a sense of humor, but some days are just hit after hit of comedic gold.

This is a series of statements and happenings one  morning:

D pulled another anti back onto the sidewalk after they had crossed the property line saying, ”I saw the smoke coming off of your shoe.”

“Does she thinks she can say anything she wants over the internet? You can’t lie on the internet.”

“Even satan believes in god.”

A pedestrian walking by the entrance to the clinic pointed at each escort standing there. His pointed finger was accompanied by, “You are going to hell,” “You are going to hell,” “You are going to hell.” It was kind of like Oprah saying, “You win a new car,” but less exciting.

The number one mood lightener came from a companion. As the client and companion were coming towards the door, the companion started talking to the antis and let himself be surrounded by them. While the antis were distracted the client was able to cross the property line with minimum interference.

We could hear him saying: “I don’t know what it is, but when she reached adulthood she started wanting to make her own choices. I don’t agree with her making choices, but she says I have to respect her. It’s like that free speech stuff, you have to listen to it even if you don’t want to.”

The client and others waiting by the doors were laughing at all of the things he was saying and the escorts couldn’t help smiling. He got his point across with perfect deadpan delivery and without ever raising his voice.

Sack-of-Potatoes Doctrine ~ by Lepus

“Take your woman out of there”

 “Men, convince her to leave this place”

“As men we are to stand up for women and be leaders”

I’ve noticed that antis always go after the men, particularly trying to wound and prick them in the “masculinity” department.  You know, that department where historically women could do nothing without express permission from either her father or her husband.  Women couldn’t own property or inherit property because they were considered property by society at large.

Times have changed for the better, but it doesn’t surprise me that those that see the world through Christian Patriarchal lenses say these things to men as they enter the clinic.

It also doesn’t surprise me that it rarely. if ever, works.  As if women have no mind of their own.  As if women are sacks of potatoes that can be thrown over one’s shoulder and carried off.  As if women are so easily influenced.

An anti spoke to myself and a male escort the other day.  The male escort informed me that the anti told him he was leading me in the wrong direction. Because all women need tending and leadership, because they are submissive and sinful by their very nature (again, this is the Christian Patriarchal worldview talking).

I chuckled.  Why, I got myself out of bed and drove myself to the clinic to escort that very day.  Imagine.  A woman, making a decision for herself, and acting upon it, unlike the sack-of-potatoes that the antis think women are.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {8/12/13}

Saturday mornings parking is at a real premium. Most of the meter spaces on both sides of the street are taken by the antis cars. If escorts get there early enough, we can get a few spaces close to the door of the clinic and then we turn then over to clients as they arrive. That’s what we did this Saturday morning.

A client and two companions stopped around 7a at the street corner and asked about parking. We directed them to parking about a block away, but they had one person who wasn’t able to walk that far. We had them pull around the corner and park while an escort moved a car for them. The escort had the space exactly opposite to the clinic door, so it was a very short trip to walk.

When they had their car successfully parked and knew what to expect from the antis, we went back to the street corner. We watched antis approach their car time after time. The client and companions did not roll down their window, but we noticed they pulled their car forward and backed it up several times.

I went around to the driver’s window and asked the driver if they were comfortable with where they were parked. They said they were okay. And then I commented we had seen them pull forward a few times, so that’s why I asked. “Oh, I was trying to run over their feet. Maybe then they will leave us alone.” I kind of chuckled and said, “Okay, just checking.”

Their plan seemed to work because after a few minutes, the antis stopped approaching their car. We were able to escort them in easily when the doors opened.

Sidewalk Snippet~by Skeletor {07/29/13}

It was a small group one morning, not many antis and not many escorts. A couple of clients had already pulled into the pay lot, though the clinic doors weren’t yet open, when one client came walking up by herself. There were so few antis that she snuck onto the property with no fuss. I was able to let her know the situation pretty easily, without too many people shouting at her from across the property line. She thanked me and then buried her face in her phone and I stepped back to the property line. This is a common defense mechanism of clients who wait at the door before the clinic opens – and a smart one, I would add. Bring headphones too.

D stepped up beside me at the property line and began talking to the client in her “I’m just a sweet old lady” voice that she invokes at the beginning of many confrontations. The client was going to have none of it and, after repeated requests to stop talking to her, the client wheeled on D and started giving her a piece of her mind. The other escort and I weren’t sure whether to step in and try to distract the client to de-escalate, or to let her go. After all, we really wanted to give her a fist bump and a couple of “Hell yeahs!”

As the conversation/debate/verbal brawl continued, D dropped the little old lady act, as she is often want to do, and took on her very comfortable tone of disapproval and reproach. The client was really giving D a piece of her mind, but it was so carefully thought out and calmly worded that D quickly became flustered. D and the other antis are used to being able to bully clients into dumbfoundedness, but this client had just turned the tables.

In the middle of this tete-a-tete, the clinic doors were unlocked. The other escort and I kept trying to find a moment to interrupt to let the client know she could go on in. When we did catch her eye and motioned to her that she could go in, she finished her thought to D and stormed into the clinic. D was left stunned and, now, she was the one who was dumbfounded.

So many times, the bullying tactics of the antis cause such distress that clients retreat inward. It was pure gold to see a client call out an anti – any anti – but this anti, in particular, for their hypocrisy and shameful behavior.

The Strength in Silence ~ by Anonymous

When I tell people about escorting, I sometimes get told, “I don’t think I could do that.”  People often cite a reason that has to do with self-restraint.  They don’t feel that they could stand without engaging, or resist getting angry, or even resist hurting a protester.

Yes, it can take a lot of self-control and inner strength to hold back responses to the protesters.  They are very skilled in finding just the right words, just the right comments, to get escorts to respond.  The things that they say can range from surprising to absurd to infuriating.  It takes strength to not call out their illogical fallacies, to not voice a pro-choice perspective to counter their anti-choice perspective, or to not respond to a personal attack.

In addition to what we hear, we also see a lot of things that make it hard to stay quiet.  We see protesters harassing clients and their companions, we see protesters bringing young children with them to the sidewalk, and we see graphic visual displays mounted on posterboard.  The things we hear and the things we see can tap all the inner resources we have.  Sometimes it feels like an oddly adult version of the game that kids often play called “not touching you, not touching you!”  In this game, one child gets all up in another child’s face and taunts them, with the goal to get the other child to respond.

Silence can be exhausting.

I have also heard people express frustration at silence, and I think it is because they see it as a form of non-response.  Why not sing a peaceful song, to counter the endless “Ave Maria” from the protesters, or to drown out their yelling and preaching?  Why are we just STANDING there, why don’t we do something?  Why are we letting them get away with this?  Why are we doing nothing?

Silence can be frustrating.

But I have also come to realize that there is strength *in* silence.  This seemingly small shift in perspective has changed how I view my role on the sidewalk.  When I realized my silence on the sidewalk was empowering me to stand strong for clients, it suddenly became easier to keep my mouth shut and keep my stare distant.

I realized that as an escort, I am not standing on the sidewalk to represent my pro-choice values or any other values, nor am I there to provide a reality-check to protesters (as much as they may need one).  My job on the sidewalk is to provide space for clients to be empowered as they walk to the clinic doors.  Responding to protesters creates noise.  Singing, regardless of it being from protesters or escorts, creates noise.  By staying silent, the volume is kept down, providing a quieter environment for clients to walk through.

Silence is also strengthening to me when I am just standing on the front lines without any clients around.  The protesters want nothing more than to control the conversation, and they are astonishingly good at finding words that provoke angry and intense feelings.  Their goal is to engage, to start an argument, to raise both emotions and the general sidewalk volume.  But when I stay silent, I control the conversation.

Silence is not doing nothing.

Yelling at the protesters, holding up pro-choice signs, or engaging in our own chants might (on the surface) appear to be doing something, but not when I remember that my primary job on the sidewalk is to provide space for client empowerment. My job is to foster a sidewalk environment that is calm, peaceful, and quiet.

I cannot control what the protesters do.  But I can control my reactions to what they do.  And when I react by standing silent (instead of thinking about it as not reacting), I am doing my job.

Silence is an active choice that I make.

This shift in perspective doesn’t mean it is perfectly easy for me to stay silent.  I sometimes respond to the protesters in my mind.  It helps when I realize that their ranting would continue almost exactly the same if I said my response out loud (in other words, my responses would not change their dialogue!).  If something they say really gets on my nerves, I have found it helpful to lean over and whisper about it to another escort.  I also know that I always have the option to step away for as long as I need.  I do not want to imply that escorting is an easy walk in the park!

I also cannot speak for all escorts, as there are some escorts who are able to successfully talk to the protesters without voices and emotions escalating.  This is only my perspective. But for me, silence does not sap my strength.  Rather, I have found strength in silence.