Story No. 231: Patient from North Dakota

*TRIGGER WARNING* This story discusses rape and sexual assault

I’m 16 years old, and last summer emergency contraception saved my life. It was late June, and I was living in Tuscany as an exchange student with my host family. One night, the son of my hosts came into my room. We were friends, and had napped together before so I thought nothing of it. Then, he raped me. Believe me, it has taken almost half a year for me to admit that to myself, but there is no other word for the non-consensual act. He didn’t ask, and when I said, “What are you doing?” and finally, “Stop!” he did nothing but continue. He wasn’t wearing protection.

The next morning, I walked for two hours downhill to the nearest town, Cortona. By some stroke of luck I found a pharmacy. I asked them about contraceptives, they asked for my age. I was only 15 at the time. In Italy, you have to be 18 to get emergency contraceptives over the counter. I trudged back up the mountain, crying with fear. What was I going to do? I couldn’t just tell my host mom what had happened. I used the patchy WiFi to send a message to a friend back in America explaining what had happened.

The next day, I was in panic. I knew time was ticking and I still hadn’t done anything about what had happened. Thankfully, my friend in America recognized the seriousness of the situation and told my mom. My mom messaged my host mom and told her. I was rushed to a clinic in Arezzo, and three minutes before closing time I was given a tiny pill that prevented pregnancy.

Plan B didn’t erase the horror of my rape. Because I still haven’t told anyone it was non-consensual, a lot of my friends and parents’ friends think I was being impulsive and irresponsible. However, being able to take that pill erased the possibility that I would have had to have an abortion, something that is expensive and almost impossible in my red state.