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Years ago, Melissa was raped. What followed was one of the hardest decisions of her life.

Hear a couple of women from Kansas explain why we should have the right to make a decision like Melissa's.

Years ago, Melissa was raped. What followed was one of the hardest decisions of her life.
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Melissa Olsen is a mother from Wichita, Kansas.

She has two kids. Here is one of them.


Here is Melissa with her family.

Many years ago, before she had a family, Melissa was raped.

That's young Melissa on the right.

After her rape, Melissa found out she was pregnant.

In an email to Upworthy, Melissa explained how her pregnancy wasn't a direct result of her sexual assault.

    "I was raped at 15 and was still in the process of healing when I went to University of Kansas. I was sexually assaulted by three men that fall of 1997. I proceeded to flounder, and became lost and terrified. My PTSD, depression, and anxiety went into overload. I began drinking heavily and became pregnant the summer following my assault — and most definitely not from the assault. I didn't feel as if I were a whole person, or anywhere near ready to have someone live within me when I hated the touch of my own flesh."

To this day, she remembers how hard her decision was.

Ultimately, Melissa decided to get an abortion.

Here's what she has to say about her decision:

    "I got my abortion for multiple reasons, but one of the huge reasons was after my rape, I wasn't prepared to share my body for nine months with another being. I felt like I had already put my body and my spirit through so much that I don't think that psychologically I could have been through a pregnancy. I was angry and I was afraid and I literally had nothing left to give."

She also told Upworthy this:

    "I don't want my message to be that you must be traumatized to have an abortion. Trauma doesn't make you worthy of an abortion. Having your own hopes, dreams, and ideas does."

Today, Melissa has no regrets about her decision. She only wishes her younger self could have been less hard on herself.

Fact: 1 in 3 women of reproductive age will have an abortion. Melissa was one of those women.

Watch this video to learn more about her story and the advocates who have worked to help people like Melissa.

FACT CHECK TIME!

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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