I was born and raised in Long Island, NY, the youngest of six children, raised in a household with no formal religion. In 1960, when I was five years old, my father dropped dead on his way to work. I remember going to his wake, giving him a kiss as he lay lifeless in his coffin. I sat on the pastor’s knee and asked him, “Why did my daddy die?” His reply was, “God needed him more.” I wanted to know what about me; I needed my daddy! That response left such a sour taste in my mouth that I didn’t want anything to do with God.
In 1965, at the age of 10, I was molested by one of my brothers. Two years later, I was molested by my brother-in-law. I never spoke of those incidents, always believing it was my fault. My siblings had now moved out of the house, which left me and my brother John at home.
My mom decided to move us from Long Island to upstate New York. We ended up in Hamilton, NY, where I attended high school. At the age of 15, I was raped by my best friend’s brother. I wanted to commit suicide, and my mother walked in on me as I was about to take a handful of pills. I remember her telling me that “nothing is worth taking your life!” That always remained with me: the panic in her eyes and the love my mom had for me kept me from ever doing that again. But I never did tell her why I wanted to kill myself; I kept all that secret.
In 1973, when I was 17, I got married right after graduation and moved to Albany, NY. I got pregnant and had my daughter Theresa in 1974. Two years later, we moved to Buffalo. My marriage was abusive, physically and mentally. My husband would hit me if something wasn’t cleaned correctly, the laundry wasn’t folded right, or if he was having a bad day. Again, I always thought that it was my fault. One time, he threw me down a flight of stairs. My daughter was crying, calling for me, my husband kept telling her that “mommy’s a whore,” “she’s no good.” As I crawled up the stairs to get to my baby, he slammed the door in my face. In 1978, my husband kicked us out of the house, and my daughter and I went to live with my mom, who was now in Hampton, VA.
In the summer of 1979, my husband came to visit our daughter, and again I got pregnant. I never told him or my mom. My girlfriend coerced me into having an abortion. I was six to nine weeks pregnant, and she drove me to a new clinic called Planned Parenthood. As I waited for my name to be called, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I was finally escorted to the procedure room. After it was over, I felt weird, empty. It was a horrible day, and the regret and pain stayed with me afterwards, but I still never reached out to anyone, certainly not to God. As the days passed, I tried to put the incident out of my mind, not realizing that this decision to abort would later take such a toll on my life.
In 1980, I tried to reconcile with my husband. This time, we lived in a one bedroom apartment in Ohio, and I thought things were going OK. I never thought about the fact that he really didn’t want us there, but I tried the best I could. The physical and mental abuse again increased, and my self-esteem hit zero. One evening after work, arriving home, there was a suitcase sitting outside, the locks had been changed, and it was pouring rain. I didn’t know what to do, so I called my boss. I ended up in a hotel for the night, and he helped me to get an apartment. I thought, “Wow, this guy really cares about me!”
I moved in with my boss, rented a house, and got custody of my daughter. My mother came up from Virginia to help watch my daughter while I worked. For a while, things were going great. But suddenly, I had to move. I put everything I owned and all of my mother’s things in storage. My mom returned to Virginia, and I had to get an apartment. I wound up losing everything I had put into storage. I had been caught up in a scam and couldn’t retrieve anything. I was devastated.
My boss and I got a small apartment, and I got pregnant again. He told me that I had to “take care” of the situation, that he didn’t want any more children. As I walked into the Planned Parenthood clinic, I felt nauseous. An uneasiness surrounded me, but I felt I didn’t have any other option. After the “procedure” was done, the same overwhelming sensation of emptiness that I had felt after my first abortion flooded me, and I began to cry. When I got home, I curled up on the couch and cried for three days. Not long afterwards, I left with my daughter and went to my mom’s place in Virginia. She welcomed me, even though I had lost all of her belongings. My mother was an amazing woman, but I couldn’t let her know what I was going through. I hid my feelings from her, telling myself that this was the right thing to do. But deep down, I was ashamed. My abortions were affecting me, even though I didn’t realize it.
I started working as a waitress and bartender and would party until the wee hours. I was trying to escape the emotional consequences. I suppressed those terrible feelings deep down inside. I couldn’t tell anyone what I had done. I was depressed, out of control, partying and drinking. I was no longer living, just existing, drifting.
In 1983, I had been working at a nightclub and met a man named Michael. He asked me out, and I was thrilled. He was such a “southern gentleman.” We started dating while I saved up enough money to get my own apartment for my daughter and me. We were there for a few months, then Michael moved in. I thought it was a match made in heaven! He loved my daughter, my daughter loved him, and things were great. That summer, my daughter Theresa went to visit her father, who had remarried and was living in Knoxville, TN. She went to visit him and ended up staying a whole year. We never know what God has planned for us or what challenges we may face in life.
I became pregnant again and was excited. I thought I would wait to tell Michael. I actually waited until I was about four months along when I broke the news to him. Instead of being overjoyed, he yelled at me and said, “How can you do this to me? What were you thinking? I’m not ready to be a father! I’ve just started my career.” And again I heard: “You have to take care of the problem.” I was devastated. I thought for sure he would be happy. Instead, our baby was a “problem” that had to be dealt with. The following week, as I walked into the Planned Parenthood clinic, I remember the eerie feeling of darkness and how I didn’t want to be there. I checked in, paid, then waited for my name to be called.
The funny thing about a Planned Parenthood clinic is that no one is happy to be there, no one looks at each other, there are no large windows to let the light in, only darkness. I didn’t want to be there, my heart was pounding, and my palms were sweaty. I was told that I had to do this, again being coerced into something I didn’t want to do.
When my name was called, I was led behind closed doors. The nurse kept telling me that “this is the best thing you can do for yourself, honey. You won’t feel a thing. The doctor has done lots of these procedures.” The biggest lie they told me was: “It’s only a blob of tissue”! I waited for some kind of comfort — words, a caress, anything. But I was given nothing but coldness.
I was told to change into a hospital gown and wait. The nurse finally came over to bring me into the “procedure room.” I remember it being cold, not welcoming. I was helped onto this cold stainless steel table, and the nurse said she would give me something to help me relax. There was this distinct smell. The smell reminded me of an old nursing home, an ICU unit, and a dentist’s office combined. In the corner, I saw this large, round canister with a long tube attached. At the end of the tube was a very sharp object. As I waited for the pain medication to kick in, the doctor arrived. He patted me on the leg and said, “Don’t worry. I’ve done lots of these procedures, you won’t feel anything.”
I was still waiting for the pain medication to kick in, and still there was nothing. All of a sudden I heard this loud noise. The switch was turned on, and it sounded like an industrial vacuum. The doctor then took that tube and shoved it up deep inside of me. It literally took my breath away. I saw stars, I grabbed the nurse’s hand, squeezing hard and telling her please help me. I was writhing in pain. Help me, I feel all of this! You said you would give me pain medicine, but it’s not working, what is happening? I begged and begged for them to stop, to help me, but my cries went unanswered. No one was listening. I was crying, and the nurse kept telling me to relax, take it easy, it will be over soon.
The sound of that sucking machine, the sound and feeling of that sharp object being used to crush my baby! The doctor was pulling and moving back and forth. My baby was literally being torn apart, limb from limb, and the doctor didn’t even care. The pain I felt was so powerful, and I didn’t understand why I was feeling all this pain. It was as though everything was happening in slow motion, it took it took so long. My body was shaking violently, I was crying uncontrollably, and I could not be comforted. My baby was being torn apart, going through pain and agony. I was her mother, and I was a monster! I allowed this horrible man to tear my baby apart. What kind of a person was I?
Suddenly, there was dead silence. Everything stopped. The doctor left. He was finished, and there I was on the table, bleeding. The nurse came around and started to clean me up. A sense of emptiness enshrouded my entire being. My baby was gone! What did I just do, what did they just do to me? Why did I let this happen? As I continued crying, I was taken to the recovery room. They helped to control the bleeding, and I was told that it would stop in about a week. Then I should be fine.
Fine — how was I fine after this? I left the clinic and got into the car. I waited for Michael to comfort me, to say something — but silence was all I got. I cried, feeling so empty, so lost and ashamed. One minute I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t! I felt horrible, depressed, cried a lot, and couldn’t understand the emotional basket case I had become. Michael and I ended our relationship soon afterwards.
I was a hopeless mess. I plunged into drinking, promiscuity, doing all kinds of crazy things. No matter what I tried, the pain would always come back, giving me no peace. This ripple effect I had started so long ago had now become a huge wave, crashing down on my life.
I didn’t have God in my life. I was lost. I only realized that God had allowed me to feel all this pain and agony.
As my life spiraled downhill, I eventually remarried in 1986 and moved to Pennsylvania. This second marriage, too, ended in divorce. I continued existing, drifting, not understanding how messed up I had become.
My mom was now living with my sister in Hampton, VA, and in 1992, my sister and I had a falling out. I wasn’t allowed to enter her house, so I wasn’t able to visit my mom, who was very ill. Surreptitiously, I would leave Pennsylvania and drive six hours to Virginia to arrive at my sister’s house after she left for work. My niece would let me in so I could visit mom. I would spend a few hours with her, then drive back home.
In early 1993, from the office where I worked in Center City, PA, I called my sister’s house to speak to my mom. My brother-in-law answered the phone and told me that mom was in the hospital. I found out which hospital she was in and called to talk to her. When I spoke to mom that day, she was on morphine for pain. She told me how much she loved me, not to worry, that she would be OK. It was our last conversation. I was so distraught that day that I needed to get out of the office. I walked down the street and came across a Catholic church with a big red door on the front. I went up to the door and pulled on it, but it was locked! I then went around to the side, where there was a beautiful garden filled with all kinds of roses and other flowers. There was a bench there, and I just sat and cried. A woman who was working in the garden asked me if I was OK and then said, “Sit here for a while, rest and talk to God.” I turned around to thank her, and she was gone! No sign of her anywhere!
My mom died on Memorial Day in 1993. I had been at the Jersey Shore with a friend of mine and was out on the beach at 6 AM. Something had awakened me from a dead sleep, and I felt a need to go out and sit by the beach. I returned to my hotel and was told that I needed to call my sister, that it was urgent. My mom had died that morning. I screamed so loud I think all of New Jersey heard it. I left to go back to my apartment in Pennsylvania, crying hysterically all the way home. I could barely see from all the crying, but God apparently had angels on my tires to drive me home safely that day.
In 1995, I met my third husband, who is Filipino and a practicing Catholic. We dated for four years, and during that time he would take me to Mass. He brought me to St. Augustine’s Church in Philadelphia. The first time I entered that church, I had a sense of peace, comfort and love. There was this song the choir was singing which is called the Ama Namin, which is “Our Father” in Tagalog. They sounded like angels, and all I did was weep. For the first time in my life, I felt a sense of belonging. I heard in my spirit a voice that said, “Welcome home, Victoria. I have been waiting for you!” I thought, “Who are you, and why would you welcome me?” I was so lost, a horrible person, a murderer, I killed my three babies, and how could you love me? I continued to go to St. Augustine’s and became involved with the Filipino community there. I would go to prayer meetings, attend novenas, go to various other celebrations. I even received a statue of Santo Niño (baby Jesus) as a gift from my mother-in-law, and once a year there was a procession around the church in His honor. After Mass, there was always Filipino food in the church hall for fellowship. I became good friends with the Filipino community. God had plans for me, and I just kept saying “Yes.”
Edgar proposed to me on April 26, 1999. He wanted to get married in the Church. I thought, “OK, that sounds good, what do I have to do?” I wound up talking to Fr. Jack, who was the pastor at St. Augustine’s, and I started personal instruction. It turned out that my previous marriages were not valid, because my previous husbands were baptized Catholics who had married me outside of the Catholic Church without a dispensation. If I wanted to become Catholic, then I just had to be baptized. I thought, “Cool! I want to do that.” I had never really belonged to any church, and it seemed right to me that I would finally become part of the One, Holy, and Apostolic Church. I guess you could say that God had been tapping on my shoulder, but I hadn’t been listening. For the first time ever, I heard Him when I entered the Church!
Usually everyone gets baptized at Easter, but for some reason, God had other plans for me. (He does have a sense of humor, you know!) On Pentecost Sunday, 1999, I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first Holy Communion. I was now a full member of the Catholic family. God our Father welcomed me home that day, and I couldn’t have been happier.
In August, 2001, I underwent breast cancer surgery, and in September, 2001, we moved to our new home in Norristown, Pennsylvania. We became members of the local parish, and I went to visit Fr. Wilson at Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Trooper, PA. I asked for a special prayer before I started my chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I was scared and wanted comfort. Fr. Wilson gladly provided me the Anointing of the Sick. I had asked God that day that He let me survive to see my grandchildren graduate. God sends us people throughout our lifetime.
In February 2004, I met my “guardian angel,” Theresa. I had decided to attend the 6 PM Mass that day and was sitting up front alone. An elderly Irish woman came up to me and asked if I would like to bring up the “gifts” with her. She led me through the rite and stayed with me during Mass. After Mass, I told her that I was interested in becoming involved in “church stuff.” She told me that she had the perfect thing for me. She was involved in a Thursday evening prayer group and invited me to come. I said sure. In that way, I went to my very first charismatic prayer group. During that prayer meeting, the Sacrament of Penance was available, and she encouraged me to receive it. I went to confession for the first time ever, but never revealed my abortions to the priest. I was too ashamed and felt I would be judged. (I later learned that all the sins of my past life had been forgiven in my baptism, including my abortions.)
After the prayer meeting, Theresa told me about a Charismatic Unity Conference, to be held in October of 2004, and invited me to come along. I said, “Sure, why not!” Little did I know that this was the plan God had for me. The title of the conference was “By His Stripes You Will Be Healed.” The entire conference was about abortions and the healing power of God. God had a way of leading me to His mercy and forgiveness.
On the Friday night of the conference, they again had confessions. My friend Theresa encouraged me to go to this priest, Fr. John McFadden. He was a pro-life priest and had the ability to read hearts. I was nervous about going to him, but felt so much at ease when I met him. I confessed everything, from the very beginning of my life up until that day, a full life general confession. The one thing that I was told by Fr. McFadden was that Jesus loves you, He has forgiven you. I felt as though a thousand pounds had been lifted off my soul. I felt light, free. For Jesus says, “The truth will set you free.” My soul was scarlet red before confession, and after confession, my soul was white as snow. Fr. McFadden said, “If you were the last person on earth, Jesus would have died just for you!” How merciful is our God, whose forgiveness goes beyond comprehension. I grew up without a father, and now I had a Father in heaven who loves me and will never leave me — that is incredible! Thank you, Lord, for loving me! That was powerful.
Fr. McFadden also told me that I should go to Eucharistic Adoration and ask Jesus the sexes of my children. I didn’t know what Adoration was but agreed to go. When I got into the Adoration chapel, I sat there and said, “OK Jesus, Father wanted me to ask you the sexes of my children, so what are they?” I heard Jesus tell me that I had aborted two sons and a daughter. That entire weekend I cried; I received the gift of tears! I made God a promise, telling Him that I wanted to be His servant. Father McFadden told me that I needed more healing and to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. That, too, was a cleansing weekend. But little did I know that God had even bigger plans for me.
In March 2005, I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, where I received more healing and learned more about the power of God’s mercy and forgiveness. We had many sessions; the entire weekend was planned to the max. The healing I received that weekend was overwhelming and beautiful. When we first entered the meeting room, on the table were large rocks. Each one of us had to pick up a rock and keep it with us — take it to the bathroom, shower, bed, and when we ate. This rock represented all the “heavy burdens” we had been carrying. I ended up with the biggest rock.
In another exercise, a priest came into the room, introduced himself, and told us that he represented all those that have hurt, abused, abandoned, and disappointed us. He represented our brothers, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and he wanted us to “pile it on,” not to hold anything back. I started crying, and one of the counselors suggested Fr. Kevin come over to me. I was crying so hard, and then all of a sudden everything came out. The Holy Spirit flowed and allowed me to use Fr. Kevin, unburdening everything I had suffered. I remember how my voice actually changed from that of a little girl into an adult. I was exhausted afterwards, but I felt even lighter than I did at the Unity Conference. For the first time in my life, deep down in my soul, I was free, loved without judgment, given mercy and forgiveness. I had never thought that was possible.
We were asked to name our children and write a letter to them, then to spend time in Adoration. Jesus told me my children’s names were Matthew, Thomas, and Katherine. We named, symbolically baptized, and buried our children and sent them off to heaven to be with Jesus. At the memorial ceremony, we handed over our rocks and received an angel and a rose to represent the unburdening. I feel that my children are now with Jesus, laughing, playing and tugging on his coat and being loved. I am at peace for the very first time in my life. I miss my babies, but I now know they are safe with Jesus, in His loving embrace, and that we will meet again.
I was lost but have been found! I am made new! My journey has been a difficult one, but I promised Jesus that I would never be silent. I would let people know my story, because if I can help one person to avoid going through the pain and suffering of abortion, then let God’s will be done in me!
I have been given one of the greatest gifts. God knew I had suffered and aborted three children, two sons and a daughter. God does restore to us what has been taken away, and He has given me three grandchildren, two grandsons and a granddaughter. Now I have three great grandsons as well. What a gift I was given! Not only did I see my grandchildren graduate from high school, I now see the next generation in my great grandchildren.
I am today a Lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in my parish. I have been active in the pro-life movement, praying in front of Planned Parenthood, heading a 40 Days for Life campaign. I’ve spoken at the Supreme Court steps for the March for Life in Washington, DC, spoken to high school students and life rallies, given testimony at various churches and youth groups, and assisted at Rachel’s Vineyard retreats. I will remain always in His service and will speak the truth about how abortions hurt both women and men, and how my faith has given me the ability to speak about this. God is good, merciful, loving, kind, forgiving. Thank you, God, I love you!