Infertility for unknown reasons is hard enough. But when someone else actively steals your fertility, that’s a whole new level of pain and betrayal.
In 2018, the world was horrified by the child abuse committed by Californian parents David and Louise Turpin. They imprisoned and starved their thirteen children, sometimes in chains, for years.
Due to the abuse, some of the older daughters were left permanently infertile. In a story of unimaginable, inhumane, Naziesque abuse, these girls’ permanently empty arms is perhaps the cruellest part of a horribly cruel story. Their mother was allowed to have child after abused child while robbing her daughters of their God-given fertility.
This led me to ponder how many other women who long for children also had their fertility stolen by abusers.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the death of Roy Jeffs, son and victim of Warren Jeffs of the infamous polygamist FLDS cult. But what about all the little girls Warren Jeffs ‘married’ before and even during his trial and gaol sentence. Believing themselves bound to The Prophet behind bars, their fertile years are slowly ticking away. They won’t leave him. He won’t release them. In fact, a few years ago he issued an edict, supposedly from God, banning all husbands and wives in the FLDS from touching, hugging, kissing and having sex.
The World Health Organisation’s website states: ‘High rates of clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and a strong conceptualization of grief affects infertile individuals’. But it gets worse than that.
In some cases, stolen fertility is a case of ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’. The stress of domestic violence can cause infertility and in some cultures, infertility is seen as a valid excuse for domestic violence, both emotional and physical. This creates a horrible self-perpetuating circle of abuse/infertility/abuse/infertility. A self-fulfilling prophecy where emotional abuse may segue into physical abuse, actually harming the reproductive organs, rendering the original, reversible infertility now permanent.
Such things should never happen to any woman, anywhere, but they do.
But it’s not just women who experience stolen fertility. In a bizarre lawsuit from 2018, an American pastor is accused of forcing his staff member into having a vasectomy. As a job requirement for the position of Associate Pastor, Brock Miller was allegedly forced to undergo a vasectomy by televangelist, Ernest Angley, of Grace Cathedral in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
A more subtle form of stealing fertility is simply by making someone wait to have a child until the time is more convenient or there’s more money in the bank. There are a hundred reasons for putting off child bearing and everyone assumes they can have children any time they want, allowing their most fertile years to slip away, as they wait for the ‘perfect time’ to have children.
My fertile twenties were lost in a malaise of abuse. I trusted those who were abusing me, never realizing they wanted me to never have children. That their imposition and meddling with my life was calculated to keep me from finding the perfect man with whom to raise a beautiful family.
When I finally woke up to the abuse and left, my fertile years had been squandered. Sacrificed on the altar of abuse along with my self-esteem and serenity. They stole my fertility as surely as if they had forced me into having a tubal ligation or hysterectomy.
Anyone who steals another person’s fertility is beyond the pale and beneath contempt. For that, I find it hard to forgive them.
Photo by siwiaszczyk