Victimizing Impregnated Rape Victims with Mother Terminology
by KATHLEEN HOY FOLEY
Mar 07, 2013 | 2151 views | 14 14 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Victimizing Impregnated Rape Victims with Mother Terminology

By Kathleen Hoy Foley



A female impregnated against her will is not responsible for the pregnancy, to the pregnancy, and is not mother to the ovum fertilized by force. Characterizing as mother—birth mother, biological mother, first mother, real mother—an impregnated rape victim, any female impregnated against her will is a deliberate act of social violence against her. To label as mother someone who battled profound sexual trauma, who struggled with her deepest, personal fidelity, who clutched the disintegrating parts of her body and spirit and grasped at the rescue line of termination to all connections with an unwanted pregnancy, whether through abortion or confidential adoption, is cruelty in its purest form—casual, quiet, and invisible. And is an insidious attempt to subjugate, control, and stigmatize women.



Couched in the sentimental, the term mother feigns benign as it draws upon the collective heartstrings of society with notions of warmth, protection and hunger fulfillment: a candle in the window, a fire in the hearth, apple pie in the oven. It is not benign. Used against a girl, a woman emancipated from a forced pregnancy, mother terminology is a sly, saccharine weapon. It instantly prejudices: she is contemptible, immoral, disgraceful. It abuses: shun her; shame her. It punishes: remind her, call her mother. It demands: receive motherhood as compensation for sexual violence. It preaches: upholding mother fantasies is more important than tending to a living, brutalized female. It rebukes: she cannot hide; she cannot flee. It declares: she is forever obligated.   



Mother terminology mocks an impregnated rape victim. It mocks her injury. It mocks her trauma. It mocks her terror, her revulsion at the rapist inhabiting her body. An impregnated rape victim is the lowest form of sexually brutalized female, forbidden to claim injury or crime even within her own self reference. She is not permitted victim status. The catastrophic injury of pregnancy is negated. She is discarded and labeled a mother with child. The sexual violence she was subjected to is irrelevant. What was forced into her body cavity is now designated as hers. The rapist now is her rapist. Any rescue from his tyranny, any disconnection from his enforced maternity, from his lifetime tie to her—his victim—is viewed as her cold abandonment of a helpless child—of her babyof her son; of her daughter. Mother terminology victimizes a girl, a woman impregnated against her will in the most sickening way possible: it imposes emotional suicide.



Appropriate vocabulary exists to replace mother terminology: biological source; biological origin; biological female; biological carrier. Terms that allow for dignity and self determination. Terms that help protect a sexually victimized woman from social, religious, and legal mob rule. Civilized language that does not incite cultural emotion, words that ease social prejudice and reduce the abuse perpetuated against impregnated rape victims—any woman impregnated against her will—language that does not minimize and maternalize violence and target a victim can be employed as easily as not.



Mother terminology is the exact opposite of a humane gesture. It is a hammer in the velvet hand. A sucker punch. A quick kick in the broken ribs. Mother terminology permanently shackles the impregnated rape victim to the rapist.



My question is: "why do you treat me like this?"



Kathleen Hoy Foley is the first and only woman in New Jersey to shed her anonymity to publicly reveal herself as a woman who, along with her family, was traumatized by the breach of confidential adoption records. Foley and her husband, Philip, established Women In Hiding Press, an independent publisher committed to encouraging, celebrating and publishing the voices of silenced women. Foley also initiated the social art project Silenced Women Speak, an anonymous, safe way for women to break the taboo of silence and have their voices heard.



Currently, Kathleen is completing a follow-up book to Woman In Hiding, titled, Breaking Silence; Recognizing the Living Damage of Old Wounds.



For more information about the book and author, please visit www.womeninhidingpress.org.

Comments
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Cassie141
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March 17, 2013
Amazing how many rapist there are in this country. Amazing how many rapist had children given up for adoption. Hope they are all in jail.

Shame on woman for not supporting a woman and how she feels. Everyone is different. It was 1964 date rape was not heard of. The guy fathered other children. We don't know the story. She wwas a teenager, she had no choice she was pregnant abortion wasn't available. She moved on in her life. Today most woman would have aborted. Her choice she doesn't want to look back she doesn't want to see the adopted person it should have been respected. Up to her how she handles the situation. One no and the adopted person should not have gone on to other family members. She herself says she did, the son in law attorney and she says she sent a couple of letters.

Woman should be supporting each other, we aren't all the same, and not be putting everyone in a box... just because you support opening birth certificates to adoptees Every birthmother does not want contact, every adoptee does not want to contact. It should be about mutual consent. Her information should not have been released and one no it should be over. It's why our idiots in legislature have it wrong. No contact only means it is up to the adoptee how far she takes. No consequences, to someone who can screw up someone's life. Ms. Foley had a supportive family, some woman may not. It wasn't enough for this adopted person. One no and Elaine should have left her alone.

Gee what is wrong with woman we should support choices and our difference
adopted daughter
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March 10, 2013
Anyone who actually writes like this is living a sick fantasy and should immediately seek counseling and medication. Delusions should be controlled not encouraged even if it is to control your own denial.

KayTeeh
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March 10, 2013
First, this article needs to be completely reframed in that Mrs. Hoy-Foley was engaged to be married to the man she now calls her rapist. That same man is also deceased and unable to defend himself. Both Mrs. Hoy-Foley's family, and the man's family remember their relationship as an engaged couple as a positive one.

Mrs. Hoy-Foley never cried rape until her now-husband found out that she had a sexual history prior to their marriage. It is speculated by those close to the situation that it is her now-husband who demanded the rape spin of her story in order to save face at having a wife with a sexual past, and she went along and became very immersed in the 'story' to save herself and her marriage, to a degree that she now believes her own lies.

There is so much more to this story than this woman tells (and tells, and tells, and tells... for a 'woman in hiding'). She needs intensive therapy, and a lot of it. If you read her web-site, it is apparent to anyone that she is a very mentally ill individual.
Bosco70
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March 10, 2013
Kathleen, you were dating the child's father. He is conveniently dead and cannot defend himself. There were rape laws back then and you and your family did not pursue them. There is no conviction. The truth is something you are hiding. It is shameful that you take it out on your daughter. She is innocent. How would you feel if your mom did this to you? Before you die, please contact your daughter and meet your grandchildren.
Jeanne A.
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March 09, 2013
I was conceived in a rape, given up for adoption, and reunited with my birthMOM and I thank God that she doesn't feel the same way you do. I think you really need to get help. For someone who was in "hiding" you certainly seem to be seeking out a lot of publicity with not one but two books.
Kim M.
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March 09, 2013
Wow. I've never before read anything this cold and unfeeling. I feel bad for the author of this piece, because it's obvious she is a broken person in deep need of extensive therapy to move past the tragic event she endured. However, I couldn't help thinking about the child that she refers to and how awful that person must feel to be so completely rejected by the woman who gave birth to him/her when the child is also an innocent victim of this tragedy.
MelanieA
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March 09, 2013
I too was conceived from rape, relinquished and adopted, and now also reunited and in relationship with my birth mother. I call her mom and she calls me daughter.

This article makes me very sad. It is definitely not the story of every woman who was raped and relinquished a child to adoption.

I hear so much bitterness coming through in this article. A bitter, unhealed, hateful heart that seems utterly incapable of loving another human being in it's current state.

Perhaps a better question than, "why do you treat me like this" in response to being called a beautiful name: "mother", would be, "what is the name of a good local therapist where I can get help for my issues?"

Carol Ann
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March 17, 2013
You must be so proud being the child of a rapist. But yet you condemn the woman who is raped.
C.D.H
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March 09, 2013
I was conceived from rape. I have a beautiful relationship with my birth mother.

My birth mother identifies as a "mother." She would be very hurt and offended if anyone told her she was not allowed to identify in the way that she feels and chooses is right because of what a man did to her.

Her identity as "mother" doesn't "shackle" her to her rapist. It connects her to me--a person she loves and is so, so proud of. No one else should have to apply how she feels to their own lives. Please don't demand she conform to someone else's.

If we really care about women who conceived from rape, wouldn't we empower them to self-identify rather than to demand that they think, feel, and refer to themselves a certain way?

A person is entitled to tell their own story. They are not entitled to make blanket statements that give meaning to the stories of others. They are not entitled to make those effected by a similar circumstance feel hated or unwelcomed when they read public news. I question the professional judgement of this website completely.
Megamama
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March 09, 2013
Fascinating. I know personally of 2 women who were raped and chose to embrace the fact that the child growing inside was a part of them. They kept the child and the family and friends around them who knew the situation were supportive, not judgmental. I do not understand the jist of this article. To be raped is indeed a horrible act; but to reject a part of yourself is just as horrible!! It is akin to the person who discovers their child may have a birth defect and decides to abort because they cannot stand the 'part which is not perfect'. The same as this author who rejects her own child because she cannot stand the 'part which is not her DNA' (which couldn't be separated out anyway). Lets be careful we don't make excuses for our decisions so they become socially acceptable or worse; to make peace in your own troubled heart. It is the elephant in the room that ignores so many unhappy marriages where the child is conceived by force BUT IT DOESN'T COUNT BECAUSE THE PARENTS ARE MARRIED. Perhaps the laws have changed. Perhaps they are different from country to country. But this woman tends to sound as if she and a few other women are on an island of their own where no other can possibly imagine what it must be like to be there. It just isn't the truth at all.
Granny2u
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March 09, 2013
Being pregnant as a result of violence does not mean that a mother-to-be will automatically reject her child. No. It does not. Further, most females do thoroughly embrace motherhood regardless of how they became mothers. It is an instinctual response. Not a social construct or directive.

In this case, the argument that the writer is "further victimized" by hearing the truth is self-serving and ridiculous. Let her stay in denial, if that is her choice. However, it is silly to push a personal desire for an "it never happened" fantasy on the world at large. Just silly.

A mother is a mother always, even when she serves only as a bad example.

audrey lynn swanson
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March 09, 2013
should have aborted
Aunt Lizzy
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March 09, 2013
Why? Is there no value in life? Is that your answer for everything? Throw it away and start over? In Revelations, that is exactly what God is going to do with this wicked world. There is a sanctity of life that makes me cringe when people so casually throw around the word abortion.
Starlet421
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March 17, 2013
Agree should have aborted. Abortion wasn't available. Any one choosing adoption, here is the message you never know what is going to happen. Abortion 3 hours done and over. So much easier.