Editor’s Note: Live Action works to maintain the highest standards of journalistic integrity. Live Action has looked into key elements of Ms. Christie’s testimony and personal story and has found them to be credible.
I really don’t like thinking about this time. Just saying the words are hard: My wife was raped.
There’s grief and anger — rage really, like I’ve never felt before toward anyone, wanting to find this man . . . . Above all, there was frustration. Jennifer had just been through something so horrible and scary and I couldn’t make it better. I couldn’t fix it for her.
I had so many regrets running through my head. How would things have been different IF?: If I’d driven to the hotel where she’d been staying the week to surprise her (I almost did.) If I’d asked her not to take that out of town job. If this, if that. . . .
We had just set Jennifer up with a therapist to help her work through some of the early signs of PTSD – nightmares and panic attacks, when we found out she was pregnant. From somewhere near Aruba where she was working on a cruise ship she calls me: “I’m pregnant.”
People always seem surprised by my reaction, and I never understand it. I didn’t think, “What do we do now?” I knew what was right already. She just told me the news. I thought, “Okay. This is what we’re doing now.”
A baby is the beginning of something — not a “problem” to fix.
The words “I’m pregnant” should never be followed by, “What should we do about it?” The thing is, it wasn’t ever “Her rapist got her pregnant,” or “Because she was assaulted, now she’s having a baby.” It was: My wife is pregnant. We’re having a kid. A new baby. There’s a blank canvas.
This child on the way didn’t make any decisions about his conception. How could anyone place blame on him?
We knew that the pregnancy would be physically difficult for Jen — we had no idea just how bad — but emotionally, we both saw this baby as something beautiful coming from such evil. It may sound strange to others, but we really did, and do, see our son as a blessing.
I’ve never considered my son to be “somebody else’s.” As we were working through the most horrible thing my wife had ever been through in her life, we were also having a baby. These things never seemed connected. I don’t look at any of my other kids and think, “Oh, that one — he was from our New York trip. . . . And her over there? She was the night in ’97 when the power went out.”
Jennifer and I are so spiritually and emotionally connected. She’s been my soul mate since I met her at fifteen. In both of our minds, there really was no discussion to be had. My bride was having a baby. Therefore, we were having a baby. That’s all.
It’s been two years since she was raped, and I still have moments of anger. They don’t come as often. I see the effects of my wife’s assault still. We know there are lifelong effects of rape which probably won’t ever go away and we’re coping with those issues. However, separate and apart from that, we have this 18 month old. I think it’s safe to say that he’s my favorite. This is our family joke, because I’ve said this about all the kids at this age. Babies are so full of joy and that happiness is contagious! This kid is so full of hugs and giggles, he just makes the world brighter. The whole world is new, full of discoveries, and seeing that through his eyes is an unexpected gift.
When I look at him, I see simple happiness and curiosity. His big blue eyes shine just like his Mama’s. The kid is beautiful, with an infectious smile. I’ve been given this little boy who looks to me to be his Dad, who counts on me to care for him and guide him and be there for him every time he turns around.
Who is he going to grow up to be? That’s up to him. But every one of my boys knows how to treat a woman. Every one of my boys opens the door for his mom, pulls her chair out, serves her first, and speaks with respect. It’s my job — my honor — to teach my youngest how to be a man. And I take this God-given responsibility very seriously.
I learned about honor and respect growing up in a family where we knew our parents loved us, but we also knew without their saying it, that they loved each other. We never saw them fight or disagree or argue in front of us. They personified the verse that said “the two shall become one flesh.” I learned from my dad how to treat women. Did he sit me down and lay it out? No. He lived it.
This is how I teach my boys. They see how I treat their mom. They see how I treat their sister. They see how every woman I talk to is given the respect and honesty due them. My sons open doors. They speak humbly and respectfully to adults. They treat their female friends with dignity.
Do they fight with each other? With their sister? Often, and loudly. But the tone with sis is different. This isn’t about equality. It’s about understanding that there is a difference, and it will be acknowledged.
My daughter once confided in her mom that she thinks I spoiled her for guys — that she expects too much from them, based on how we are with each other. First off, good. She needs to keep her standards high. The right guy is out there, and he won’t be someone she has to fix. Secondly, I have to say that I didn’t tell her what to look for. She knows what we have, and knows that it’s right.
My Dad and I were both Marines. The Marine Corps teaches about honor, courage & commitment. They talk about defending those who can’t defend themselves. They teach us this priority: God, family, Corps, and I’ve tried to live by that code.
My wife and I are about to celebrate 21 years of marriage. I said “for better or worse” and I meant it. The vows we take don’t change when life gets difficult.
When I look in my baby’s eyes I see innocence and trust. And a lot of love. He IS my son. He knows me as Daddy. He calls me Daddy. That’s the best feeling in the world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
One last thought — some friends of ours started a gofundme account for us, designed to fill in the current gaps in income while Jennifer is suffering serious seizures and I miss work to take care of her. The seizures are post-traumatic epilepsy directly caused by the beating she took during the assault in January of 2014. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank every single person who donated, as well as every single person who couldn’t, but left us a beautiful and encouraging message. Every word you write is read, and we pray over you and your family the way you’ve prayed over mine.
If you would like to write to us, we’d love to hear from you and the gofundme link is really the best place to do so in order that we may protect our family, for obvious reasons: https://www.
God is good. All the time.
BIO: Jeff is the husband of Jennifer Christie. He’s also the father of 5, caregiver to his wife, former Marine, and works as an automotive industry professional.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published elsewhere and was reprinted here with permission in 2016.