Meghan, a former Planned Parenthood patient in North Carolina, shares her story of care.
My name is Meg and I am a freelance burlesque performer and model. My community is full of strong women who embrace and support one another. Many of us are advocates of women's rights, specifically the right to decide what's best for ourselves and our bodies. By being part of this sisterhood I have learned to find my voice and not be afraid to speak up about issues that are important to me or seek assistance when needed.
I didn't always feel this way. I grew up in the bible belt of South Carolina. Women and people of color still live in a stigmatized environment. Healthcare, abuse and mental health are topics rarely discussed. Growing up I often felt conditioned to deal with these issues a certain way. I was taught not to talk about abuse and to be ashamed of it. If a woman couldn't afford healthcare, they didn't deserve it.
Last year, I was sexually assaulted by a friend of mine. I was worried I may have contracted an STI because of it. I was horrified and scared. While I live in South Carolina, I decided to go to the Planned Parenthood health center nearest me in Charlotte, NC to get tested. They were welcoming and supportive and answered any questions I had. I even had issues with payment and they helped. In turn, this experience made me feel stronger and eventually I chose to speak out against this predatory person. I was believed and supported. Together we decided how to combat this situation and protect ourselves and each other. All survivors deserve to feel this way.
Planned Parenthood is a place that respects women and allows them to have a voice to do what they want with their bodies the way they best see fit. It is an important place to me personally and so many other women nationwide. I encourage all women and survivors to find their voice and seek the support they need. There's a whole community waiting to embrace you.