A Rape, A Pregnancy, and a Plea to Texas Lawmakers

No one should be treated as a criminal for deciding what's right for their body.
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A Rape, A Pregnancy, and a Plea to Texas Lawmakers
On Route 96, Port Arthur is a typical, dusty, small Texas town, defined by its oil refinery. Along the highway, there's a Super 8, a Holiday Inn, and a strip of budget hotels for travelers and business people passing through town for a night.

My parents and I were staying at one of them, though we weren't just passing through. We had moved to Port Arthur from our home in Hawaii for three months so that my mother could take on a temporary assignment over the summer as a nurse anesthetist. I was 16 at the time. Bored by the hotel. Angry at being uprooted. At having no friends and nothing to do. I was aware that as a child of Filipino immigrants, I was different, and that the people who hung around Route 96 in Port Arthur didn't look like me and I didn't look like them.

I was also becoming aware of myself as a young woman. I was aware of my dark skin, my long, silky hair. I enjoyed the way my clothes fit my new form, and the way the boys around me admired me. I played with makeup to see how I could manipulate the contours of my eyes and cheeks, the shape of my lips. It felt liberating and empowering to enter this next stage of my life, to feel more like a woman than a girl.

But before that summer was over, all that would crumble, as I'd face the most disempowering experience of my life right there in that hotel.


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