As the backlash against Republican Representative Todd Akin continued today, one woman penned an open letter to the disgraced politician to highlight the ignorance of his ‘legitimate rape’ comments.
Shauna Prewitt was raped during her final year at the University of Chicago at the age of 21. One month later, she found out that she was pregnant and made the difficult decision to keep the baby.
'I do not know if, in your terms, it was “legitimate rape.” Yes, I cried hysterically. Yes, I fought until my body ached. And, yes, I changed afterward in ways I could not ever imagine,' she said of the horrific ordeal in her letter to Akin.
Response: Shauna Prewitt, who was raped during her final year of college at the age of 21, penned an open letetr to Rep. Todd Akin
Akin, a nominee for Senate in Missouri, told the Jaco Report on Sunday that it is rare for a woman to become pregnant after a 'legitimate rape' because the 'female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down'.
But, in her letter to the 65-year-old who today dismissed pleas from top Republicans to abandon his besieged Senate campaign, Prewitt told how she fell pregnant and learned to love her rapist’s baby.
'Although I would not be able to articulate it for months, I was experiencing a most curious emotion toward the life growing inside of me, an emotion that both enlivened me and caused me to experience an intolerable shame,' the attorney from Chicago, Illinois, said.
'You see, to my surprise, I did not altogether hate the life growing inside of me. Instead, I felt a sort of kinship, a partnership - perhaps the kind that only develops between those who have suffered together - but, nevertheless, I felt a bond.
Family: Prewitt said she has found unimaginable joy from raising her daughter (pictured) for the past seven years
‘I admit that these feelings made me feel, for a long time, like a “bad” rape victim,’ she added. ‘Why did I not feel hatred? Why, instead of being a source of further darkness, did this pregnancy feel, at times, like a small source of light?
‘Perhaps the answer is as simple as this: Just as being raped did not override my body’s natural ability to get pregnant, rape did not altogether override my body’s natural response to being pregnant.'
Prewitt said she initially felt 'degraded, fearful, weak, powerless' and 'dead' after the rape, but her pregnancy reminded her that her body was 'alive'.
The single mother said she penned the letter because she was outraged by Akin's inflammatory comments which made sex attack victims feel as if they had to convince others they were raped if they became pregnant.
‘Neither getting pregnant from my rape nor finding unimaginable joy from raising my daughter during the past 7 years makes me an “illegitimate” rape victim,' Prewitt said.
Akin was forced to apologize for his foolish comments after the huge backlash against him. ‘Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize,’ he said in an ad today.
Controversy: Republican Representative Todd Akin resisted pressure to quit the Senate race in Missouri on Tuesday, releasing a new ad apologizing for his inflammatory remarks about rape
‘The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.'
But, despite his apology, Akin said party leaders, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, were overreacting to his comments, saying the uproar surrounding the remarks was out of proportion with his mistake - misspeaking 'one word in one sentence on one day'.
For the second time in two days, Akin went on a radio show hosted by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to say he planned to stay in the race, despite constant urging from prominent members of his own party to step aside.
Akin's ignorant comments highlighted some of the other obstacles faced by rape victims. In some states, men who father through rape have the same custody and visitation rights as other fathers.
Prewitt decided to become a lawyer after facing this hurdle firsthand - her attacker sought custody of her baby girl. She currently campaigns to change custody laws. 'My rape did not end my life and, in a profound way, I have become a stronger person after my rape,' she ended her letter.
'I will fight to extinguish your inflammatory statements just as ardently as I fought to reclaim a vibrant life. I hope you will find my concerns “legitimate.”'