Onawu: My mother and father were migrant farm workers. I was molested at age four by a neighbor’s son who is in prison to this day for armed robbery and rape.
My father was very abusive to my mother.
My grandmother struggled with mental health issues. My grandfather…was murdered in 1963 by one of his seven daughter’s husband in a very small farming community of Fairmead, CA.
What impact did those early experiences of violence and molestation have on you?
Onawu: As I reflect back on my life it started out in a pretty violent and twisted environment. With the challenges I faced in my family, I struggled with a sense of shame, not really understanding this…but also a fear of being rejected.
I felt a deep sense of insecurity.
You have also suffered the violence and trauma of rape.
Yes I was raped in 1972 when I was a senior in high school. He was someone that I used to date. He raped me six months after we broke-up and I became pregnant.
My father wanted me to have an abortion, but I was too far along…My mother convinced me to keep the baby and she would help me to raise him while I went to school. I graduated from high school in June of 1973. I am glad I did not abort. My son is a wonderful man who is serving in the army. He has done two tours in Iraq.
Your first abortion occurred when you were a college student correct?
Onawu: My first abortion in 1974, I was 20 years old and shortly after the Roe vs. Wade decision…and yes I was attending junior college at the time. I was referred to Planned Parenthood by a friend. I got involved again a year later with another man who was in the military was the same scenario, resulting in another abortion.
It is amazing how easy it was for me to accept the lies of the pro abortion Planned Parenthood counseling back then. [They convinced me] that I was not carrying a human being. I was able to believe that abortion was the answer because I needed a quick fix…
It was many years later that decided that you needed to reach out for help from your abortion pain. What led you to take that step?
Onawu: It was sometime after that second abortion I would be driving and cross an overpasses or body of water and [filled with fear] that I would throw an infant over the railings into the water or over into a canyon.
If I was holding a child in my lap I would hold the baby tighter. Sometime I would fight tears.
I was in my fifties when the Lord brought it to my attention that constant fear and anxiety was connected to my abortions.
Can you share about your Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Experience?
Onawu: It was an intense three days. Tears began to flow, stony hearts were turned to flesh. We all made it thru…women and men, couples and some grandparents were there as well…lives were being changed.
What are some of the obstacles you see in getting a message of awareness and healing to our African American Christian churches? How can we open doors to healing our families and communities?
Onawu: Some of our leaders don’t understand the mental anguish of the consequences of abortions for mothers and fathers. Lack of knowledge is damaging, the truth shall make us free.
Some of our politicians and Christian ministers and leaders need healing as well…of their own participation in abortion and by encouraging others to abort. I believe lack of education and perhaps the ability to face their own past lead them to put up defensive walls.
We must be examples of hope and life for generations to come. My prayer is that we no longer be enslaved to poverty and violence; especially in the womb; not only for African Americans but for human beings as a whole.
[You can read Onawu’s full testimony here.]