Karen’s Story

I was not even six weeks postpartum when my now ex-husband forced himself between my legs after I had said “no” multiple times. I got pregnant from it and was too sick to take the pregnancy to term. This was in the late 1980s. I had a postpartum infection within a week of giving birth with fevers of 102 plus chills. My husband, his mother, and his brother didn’t take me to the hospital for care. Nobody cared that I was obviously sick. 

I’m not the only one. There are too many of us. We shouldn’t be treated this way. There was nowhere in Alaska that I could go to terminate the pregnancy that was causing preeclamptic signs and symptoms in the first trimester. I had to pay to fly to Seattle for the procedure. I had my infant son to take care of and lost my breast milk from the ordeal. He was failing to thrive because of it. It was when I took him to the doctor that I found out I was pregnant from the forced sex my husband made me have though it was excruciatingly painful. He didn’t care if it hurt me.

During our almost five year marriage he used coercive tactics to force my to have sex with him. He would threaten divorce and taking my children away if I didn’t do what he said.

It wasn’t until my second or third time staying at a woman’s shelter in Sitka that I finally accepted that he was never going to change.

I ended up completing my Certified Nurses Assistant training and working as a waitress out of that shelter. By that time I’d given birth to my second son. I took care of my children, went to school, and work while staying at the shelter. My husband had the house and car. He would threaten suicide to try to manipulate me too. Though he would never actually follow through with it.

I finally left him with a little support from my mother, but it was still hard. Not because I still loved him, but because the support was very little.

Women in situations like mine need better support. Especially when their family isn’t that great at being the support structure we need.

Support in the form of shelter and daycare while we go to work or school until we can stand on our own would be helpful.

I’m not the only one. There are too many of us. We shouldn’t be treated this way.