New York rape victim who endured unwanted pregnancy reacts to Akin comments

U.S. Representative Todd Akin

Renée DeVesty was 19-years-old when she was raped by her best friend’s husband and another man she knew and trusted during a camping trip.   

“I shut down,” DeVesty told Metro. “I was afraid of them. I thought it was my fault. I decided not to tell anyone and pretend it never happened.”

But DeVesty was forced to confront the horror of being raped when, two months later, she found out she was pregnant. She was devastated by the possibility of having to explain her pregnancy to family and friends who knew she wasn’t seeing anyone. Or worse — confess that she had been raped. She wondered whether anyone would even believe her.

DeVesty, a Catholic, struggled with the decision, but opted to abort the pregnancy.

“I had no control over what happened to me and here was something else that came with it, and I couldn’t live with that,” she said. “I had to feel like I had some control over my body and in the end, I felt it was best for me.”

DeVesty, now 49 and living in Syracuse, N.Y., said she felt sick to her stomach when she heard Rep. Todd Akin say a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said in an interview.

There is no truth to that whatsoever,” DeVesty, who runs Clean Slate Diaries, a support website for sex abuse victims, said. “There is no way someone who has to go through that horror of being raped can legitimately in their head think, ‘Now I am going to tell my body not to become pregnant.’”

Akin has since apologized for the comments, saying he “misspoke,” but the outcry has pundits speculating that he will likely withdraw from the Missouri Senate race.

“To say it’s slim that it happens or to make them feel that they did something to create the pregnancy — that they didn’t shut down their bodies — is re-victimizing them again,” DeVesty said of victims of sex abuse. “I think he should be expelled from the running.”

She’s not alone in that sentiment. Officials from the New York locations of prominent organizations like Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network expressed outrage over Akin’s remarks.

“Todd Akin’s comments are ignorant, insensitive, and appalling. It’s disturbing that people are legislating and running for office who have such a fundamental disregard for women and women’s health,” Planned Parenthood spokesman Mel Gagarin said.

“This needs to be a wake up call to American women,” Sonia Ossoria, director of the National Organization for Women in New York, told Metro. “There has been a continued assault on our reproductive rights. We have got to show them who is boss.”

“Where do we have control? Where is our say?” DeVesty asked. “The insinuation that it doesn’t happen or we have some control over it is unacceptable. That should not be tolerated.”

Late Monday, rumors were circulating that the GOP was preparing for Akin to announce his decision to step down from the election, though he had yet to confirm the claim.


Editor’s note: Renée DeVesty specifically gave Metro permission to publish her name along with her story.


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