“There was one family I always hated to visit because of what would happen behind closed doors. I was six years old, and my younger cousin was sexually violating me. I didn’t know what that meant; all I knew was that it felt wrong.”Childhood is supposed to be an innocent time. Little Joyce never had a choice.“I thought that I would be punished because of something I had done,” says Joyce. Since no adults knew, the abuse continued during summertime visits.
Though the abuse stopped, the damage was done. “The enemy began to whisper: ‘You’re spoiled goods. Your heavenly Father doesn’t love you. You know your earthly father doesn’t. If he ever found out this truth...’ And I believed that.”
A few years of that kind of thinking had its consequences. “Now I was no longer being violated, I was offering the invitation for sex at 13. Smoking pot, hanging out with the wrong crowd but wearing that mask.” By 15, Joyce was pregnant. Without a second thought, she made a phone call. Joyce says, “I knew the remedy. All I knew was that it was supposed to be quick, easy, and affordable. I had been babysitting, had enough money. I’d take care of it, didn’t tell the boy that I was pregnant, and life would just go on back to normal.” Joyce says. “What did I do? Next year, here we are, pregnant. I’m now a junior in high school, and I knew the way out.”
One abortion made having the second one easier. Four more would follow in the years to come. What about her relationship with God in all of this?“I thought He doesn’t love me anyway because of the sexual abuse. I did feel His presence at various times and knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong but it was the answer.”
When Joyce was 25, she became pregnant and decided to keep the baby. Her thinking on abortion was starting to change, and she hoped her boyfriend would stay for the child. He didn’t.
Joyce soon met and married Ted. Though they were happy, she was afraid that he too might leave her. So when she found she was expecting, she reverted once more to her old pattern. Joyce says. “I had become something that I hope most people never choose to become -- to reject and denounce the true joy and love of your heart for myself.”
The next time Joyce was expecting, she went to a pregnancy care center for a free test and found so much more.“They offered help for me to carry that baby. I had never been in that environment before. It was always, ‘oh, when would you like to set that appointment for that abortion?’”
In time Joyce took part in their abortion recovery program.“I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I entered in as a very frightened young girl, but 12 weeks later, I left as a woman of God. Looking at denial, depression, and anger, women and men who have lost children to abortion live in the state of anger, and for me it was 10 years.
“He’s a God who has redeemed and given me strength to tell His story. If He can take this girl who made so many wrong choices, all these abortions…if He could forgive me, I know He can forgive anyone, because I thought I was the poster girl of wrong choices.”
And what she says to women that want to abort is: “It may seem simple. It may seem like the quick fix and no one needs to know, but you’ll know for the rest of your life. It’s a devastating, destructive choice that impacts you as a mother, as a wife, as a sister, as a friend. It’s a grief, even when you know the Lord’s forgiveness, which you carry for the rest of your life. There is nothing I can do to fill my hands with my children again. Most pregnancy centers offer Bible studies. Come to know His truth, come to know His freedom, and those chains of guilt and shame can fall.”