Beauty from the Ashes of Rape: A Life Chat Interview w/ Tori Hope Petersen

The following article is a synopsis of an episode from our Life Chat Podcast series. To listen to the full episode, click here.

One of the most prominent and perhaps most heartbreaking argument for abortion is in the case of rape. Many will cite an example of a single woman, who gets raped and then gets pregnant. Should she have to carry her aggressor’s child for nine months, and then live the rest of her life either raising that child, or giving the child up for adoption and knowing that he or she is somewhere in the world? At first glance, this may seem like a cruel form of torture; a branding on the mother for a crime she didn’t commit. But what about the child? Should the child be punished for his father’s sin?

There are many beautiful stories that have come from children conceived in rape, and the mothers who conceived them. Amon these stories is that of Tori Petersen, who was conceived in this horrifying way, but ultimately given life. In a Life Chat interview, Tori Petersen explains her inspirational story to Mary Kate Knorr.

The first time she found out how she was conceived, Petersen was nine. Unlike some mothers who go through this terrible ordeal, Petersen’s mother didn’t try to conceal her conception from her. Rather, when Petersen asked about her father, her mother explained the sorrowful story in a way that a nine year old would understand.

Petersen remembers her reaction: she simply told her mother, “Okay, I won’t tell anybody,” thinking that it was something her mother didn’t want anyone to know. Petersen’s mother surprised her when she said, “No, I want you to tell someone. I want you to tell other people because I think it might be able to help other women.” The profound selflessness of this statement cannot be underestimated: Petersen’s mother must have known that this would affect her reputation, she must have known that Petersen might get bullied for this, but she believed that in the end her story had the potential to reach and encourage women who needed it the most.

“We always want to see hard situations, or the victim to be made a victor,” Petersen explains, and because her mother didn’t believe she was strong enough to testify and explain her story, she left this task up to her daughter. Because of this, Petersen has made it her life goal to testify to her mother’s heroic decision to save her from abortion. Petersen didn’t have a perfect life, and her mother made many mistakes raising her. Because of this, Petersen went to foster care twelve separate times, and lived in twelve different places throughout her growing up years. She lived with her mother at intervals, but her mother wasn’t stable enough to raise her. This made her childhood turbulent and uncertain, with periods of abuse and neglect, until she was finally emancipated at age eighteen.

Despite her hardships, Petersen never thought that she would rather be dead. In her interview with Mary Kate, she discusses the common pro-choice people make when justifying abortions because these children might end up in the foster care system. “What we’re saying is that… this human being shouldn’t even have the chance to live,” She laments that we don’t believe these children have any potential, any chance of success, and says that she wants to live to prove this thwarted theory wrong. If we tried to keep people from suffering, Petersen explains, “We would have like no people because we all go through egregious suffering at some time.”

Petersen reflects on how her mother raised her, and even though her childhood was far from ideal, Petersen learned many valuable lessons from her mother and is forever indebted to her. Petersen explains that her mother confided in her that “Having me made her a better person because she was responsible for another life and she had to step up to the plate.” She explains about her father that she doesn’t take anything from him, she doesn’t even know who he is. “His actions don’t reflect how I live my life.” She doesn’t see her father in herself, and doesn’t want to.

Her journey to become a Christian was not the smoothest. Her first experience with Christians was in one of her foster homes, and they were not good examples of Christians. Petersen was abused by this family, and because of this was cautious of Christians. However, shortly after she moved to a foster family with a wonderful mother.

“She just reflected Christ like no other,” Petersen explained, and it was in this wonderful woman and beautiful family that Christ revealed himself to her. This woman truly took care of her and wanted the best for her. Petersen explains, “She was really doing it because she felt like God called her to do it.” She says that God likely showed her that Christians can either be real or fake, and foster parents are the same way: They can either be doing what they are doing for the right reasons or for completely contorted reasons.

Petersen concludes by reminding all who are listening that the responsibility of caring for children is there for all of us. “We often blame those who govern us, our elected officials, but we don’t look at ourselves,” she remarks. She explains how we need to start with our own families because we are raising or being a part of peoples’ lives, and these people are going to go out and change the world for the better or for the worse. “The solution is not for just everyone to be foster parents, the solution is to put good culture in our families so that no one is going into foster care,” Petersen explains, and encourages all those involved in the foster care system to truly love their children and try to give them the best life possible.