Statutory Rape Victim Builds a New Life at HBP

By Janella R.*

About a year ago, when I was just 15 years old, I met my baby’s father.  He told me his name was Namir.*  He was 20 years old – just a few years older than me – and that was fine with me. Namir was up-to-date with the latest styles of clothing and language. He seemed nicer and acted more mature than my peers. I really liked that about him.

Janella during her pregnancy

Photo: Satsun Photography

Although I did not see Namir every day, we talked on the telephone often. I didn’t think twice that he changed his telephone number frequently because he always called to check on me and set a time to meet. Everything was going well between us until I got pregnant. He was the first to know.

The truth about my baby’s father

Namir was not only indifferent about my pregnancy, he even denied it and rejected me. My hurt and confusion led to a nervous breakdown. While hospitalized at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW), I told my mother the truth.

My mother was furious and hurt because she didn’t want me to struggle as she has had to do for most of her life. She is 39 years old with three children, of which I am the oldest. She does not receive any support from my father. In fact, I do not know where my father is; we do not have a relationship.

Naturally, my mother wanted to meet Namir, get to know him, and find out his intentions since I was carrying his baby. During that meeting, Namir did not offer anything worthwhile. His response motivated my mother to investigate him privately. She discovered the truth: the father of my child is 42 years old, not 20.  He eludes a string of ex-girlfriends who want to hold him accountable by changing his telephone number often.

My mother pressed charges against him. Eventually, the D.C. Youth Division turned the case over to D.C. Attorney’s Office. Namir is being brought to justice. A few months ago, he had his first hearing. I now know that what this man did was wrong. Nevertheless, the father of my son is on trial for molestation and statutory rape, which gives me more than a bit of anxiety.

HBP: my refuge and my support system

A social worker at my school understood my struggles and referred me to Healthy Babies Project. She explained that this agency works with teens like me. Since enrolling, I have taken all the parenting classes HBP offers, including those in the Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP) and Confident Parenting. The classes have allowed me to open up myself to trust, to know that I am valuable, and to believe that I can and will make it in life.

This program has been my refuge, my support system, and a place where I do not feel alone. I am truly grateful for this agency. I am a product of HBP and living proof of their work and results. This agency makes a difference in the lives of countless youth here in the District of Columbia.

Today, I have a healthy son, am back in school, and am looking forward to a brighter future in spite of my past. I plan to attend college. Healthy Babies Project gave me the hope and the courage to move on and to thrive!

If you know an at-risk pregnant D.C. resident who needs support, encourage her to contact Healthy Babies Project at (202) 396-2809.

*name changed to protect confidentiality