UNBROKEN TOUR

Unbroken Tour : Ending the Silence

Great courage of rape survivors challenges the pro-abortion narrative

Last week, the inspiring courage and strength of rape survivors shone a light on what it really means to protect women and children. Despite the shameful efforts of abortion supporters to silence them, these heroic women made their voices heard and their message was that abortion is not the answer when women become pregnant after rape.

“My child is innocent too – we should punish rapists, not babies,” they bravely said.

The effect was real and powerful: amongst the many media articles, a piece in Trinity News summed up the impact these women made, positing that “they force those of us who are pro-choice to reconsider our position and engage with a valuable new perspective on the entire debate.”

Five women spoke publicly as part of the Unbroken Ireland tour, and each time they spoke, other women came forward to say that they too had been in the same situation. This was game-changing: the debate on abortion and the 8th amendment so often wrongly assumes that abortion is the only answer after rape, but now the experiences of women were actually being heard.

“Love them louder. Because only love can defeat hate. Only love can light up the darkness.”

Jennifer Christie

Pictured outside Dáil Éireann with Michael Collins, TD

Breaking the Silence

All too often, stigma and fear supresses the voices of women made pregnant in rape, or conceived in rape, or suffering because of an abortion after rape.

The Unbroken Ireland tour broke that silence, and in doing so made a great crack in the misconceptions around pregnancy from rape – a crack through which, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, the light can now get in.

Women spoke about their experiences, about their children, and also about the trauma abortion brought – and they spoke not only at public meetings and in the public square, but in Dáil Éireann and on many media interviews. Many of those interviews may not have taken place without the controversy and attention brought to the Unbroken Tour by the aggressive attempts by abortion supporters to silence these women.

Almost 20,000 people watched their moving, powerful interview on FaceBook Live with Niamh Uí Bhriain, with many tens of thousands more hearing them on the media, and seeing the Unbroken posters throughout the city and sharing messages on social media.

SHAUNA PREWITT was in her senior year in college when she was raped. Nine months later, she gave birth to a baby girl. “We live in a culture where children who are conceived in rape are still spoken of in terms of an animal’s child, a monster’s child. She is not a monster’s child, she is my child. She’s wiped away my tears when she didn’t understand why I was crying and has just been with me through the darkness,” she said.

LAURA NÍ CHONGHAILE said that she would not be silenced about her daughter conceived in rape because her child was precious and important, and she wanted to explain that abortion would have not helped her, and that it would have only added to her pain.

LOUISE SHERIDAN told her heart-breaking story about how she was “railroaded” into having an abortion after rape, which left her traumatised and sent her life into a downward spiral that continued for seven years. “Both the rapist and the abortion objectified me. No-one offered help, it was just expected I would have an abortion, which I didn’t want but was offered no other option,” she said.

JENNIFER CHRISTIE was on a business trip when she was attacked by a serial rapist. She says that the pain was immense – and that the lack of understanding as to how to best help her through the trauma was devastating. “My child had nothing to do with the attack on my body or the scars on my soul. He had everything to do with my healing -giving me a reason to hope. I did not save my son. He saved me. I am not raising a ‘rapist’s baby’. I am raising my baby, and when people say otherwise we will love him louder,” she says. See Jennifer’s Story here

REBECCA KIESSLING was conceived in rape. She explains: “I was conceived in rape … I am no less of a human being, worthy of love, and deserving a right to life.” She says that society’s misconceptions and lack of understanding forces women and their children to feel stigma and shame. “The only person who should feel shame is the rapist,” she says. “My mother was innocent, as was I. The rapist is the criminal who should be punished.” See Rebecca’s story here

“My mother was innocent, as was I. The rapist is the criminal who should be punished.”

Rebecca Kiessling

Preparing for the Live Broadcast on Saturday, 30th October 2017

“We will not be shouted down”

The week of the Unbroken Tour was a shameful week for abortion campaigners, whose reprehensible actions made it crystal clear to the public just how extreme, nasty, and intimidating many of them are.
 
The thuggish behaviour of People Before Profit activists, and reports that staff at a hotel received threats – and even death threats – because they provided a venue for an event addressed by pro-life rape survivors, was met with a storm of criticism from ordinary decent people online.

From the Independent, through the Journal and even the University Times, there was widespread condemnation in the comments sections of the papers regarding attempts to silence rape survivors and shut down free speech.

See more on those comments and on the orchestrated attempts to shout these women down here  but it’s worth noting that that serious concern was expressed by TDs in the Dáil and in Seanad Éireann, with Peadar Toibín TD telling the Dáil that “these are rape survivors and they have been silenced, censored and shouted down. If it were any other group of people, there would be outrage in this chamber and in the media, yet we are dealing only with silence.” Later, 11 TDs and Senators co-signed a statement condemning the forced cancellations of the pro-life event.
  
The Spencer Hotel cancelled the Unbroken Ireland meeting because, it told the Life Institute, it had received threats and a “line had been crossed” when staff from the hotel were tracked down on social media and targeted personally. The Journal  reported that staff had received “death threats” online.
 
People Before Profit’s activists in Trinity – Séan Egan and Conchuir O’Radaigh –  tore down posters advertising the Unbroken Ireland event, because they found the images and words of these brave and inspiring women ‘vile’ and ‘offensive’. “F**k the anti-choice brigade,” was the message of these men, proud that they were silencing rape victims in the name of ‘choice’.
 
Laura Ní Chonghaile of Unbroken Ireland told the Independent  that “There is no place in a democratic debate for this extremism, and for shouting down women who have been raped. Is this the 19th century where aggressive men feel they can tear down our message and abuse us for sharing our experiences and having a point of view?” she asked.

In Cork, the Connolly Youth Movement removed up to 50 posters illegally, gloating about it on Facebook. The theft of posters in both cities and the evidence as to who took them has been reported to the Gardai.

There are more examples of this pro-abortion ugliness online, but the good news is that, in this case, great courage was not beaten down.

Instead of being silenced, these women refused to be intimidated. The Unbroken Ireland meeting in Dublin was held in a public square next to the Spencer Hotel at 8pm on Thursday evening, and the courage and dignity of the speakers moved many of the hundreds who came to stand witness with them to tears.

As candles lit the darkness, the words of Louise Sheridan, Shauna Prewitt, Laura Ní Chonghaile, Jennifer Christie and Rebecca Kiessling filled the public square and illuminated our understanding of what it means to give life to a child conceived in rape, but innocent of any crime.

Jennifer Christie had a message for her little boy- conceived in rape, and raised in love – and also for all those who are blinded by rage and intolerance and aggression.

“Love them louder,” she said. “Love them louder. Because only love can defeat hate. Only love can light up the darkness.”

“She is not a monster’s child. She is my child. She wiped away my tears… and has been with me through the darkness.”

Shauna Prewitt

Some of the brave women who spoke outside the Spencer Hotel

Some of those who stood in solidarity with the women of Unbroken and heard their heartbreaking testimonies

A New Way of Thinking

In Cork, the large conference room at the Silver Springs was packed, as hundreds of people crowded into the venue. Every speaker received a spontaneous, sustained, standing ovation. Most of the room was in tears, lost in admiration at the courage and dignity of the speakers. Afterwards, just as had happened in Dublin, two women approached them to say that they, too, had been in this situation, and that they, too, wanted to speak out.
 
A young man also approached: he had been ‘pro-choice’ he said, but this had changed his mind. There were many others like that posting on social media.
 
It was as if a great many firsts had been achieved:  

  • The first time that large numbers of people heard from women who had raised their baby following a pregnancy from rape
  • The first time that a woman conceived in rape had spoken in depth on the issue on national radio
  • The first time that the message ‘Punish rapists, not babies’ has appeared in posters across major Irish cities
  • The first time that politicians in the Dáil had heard from women with these experiences
  • The first time for many Irish people to re-evaluate how they felt on this issue.

Even Trinity News acknowleged that the women’s messages gave voters pause saying that statements such as “my child is innocent, just like me – our laws should punish rapists, not babies” brought “a new dimension to the abortion debate. They force those of us who are pro-choice to reconsider our position and engage with a valuable new perspective on the entire debate”.

“Both the rape and the abortion objectified me. No one offered any help. It was just expected that I would have an abortion”

Louise

A 50 strong group of students came to hear Shauna and Jennifer when they spoke in Trinity College

“I will not be silenced about my daughter conceived in rape because she is precious and important”

Laura Ní Chonghaile

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