Nicole Cooley: Raped and Pregnant
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CBN.com Nicole Cooley was a confident army lieutenant with everything going for her. Then she met the man who changed her life forever.
“I was an army brat,” Nicole said. “My parents were both Christians, and they raised me in the church. From early on I had made plans that I was going to wait until I got married for intimacy.”
Nicole had high hopes for the future, including a husband and children. While flying home on leave, she met a man who seemed to be everything she was looking for.
“He was older than me,” she said. “He told me he was in the military like I was. We just talked. Then after I got back from leave, he called me to go out on a date and I suggested that we go to church. He countered with, ‘Well, why don’t we go to my church?’ And I was thrilled that he went to church and immediately assumed that he must be a Christian.”
He seemed perfect; attentive and charming. But Nicole still had doubts.
“There were different times where I would feel like something wasn’t quite right,” she said. “He fixed a mixture of ginger ale and apple juice routinely for me. I thought it tasted good. I didn’t have any reason not to trust him. But I couldn’t get my thoughts to focus. And I was very, very tired all of the time. In the meantime, I was falling in love with him. I thought he was the person that I was eventually going to marry.”
The relationship grew, and Nicole’s boundaries were tested.
“One of the dynamics that happens in a relationship with an older man, especially an older man who outranks you, is you tend to become more submissive than you should be,” Nicole said. “You allow things you would not normally allow.”
Nicole allowed her boyfriend to stay over at her apartment. She fell asleep and had a terrible dream.
“I had a nightmare,” she said. “I was back on my college campus, pregnant and alone and going from dorm to dorm trying to find a place to sleep. I was so desperately tired and place after place rejected me. No, you’re not welcome here; you’re not welcome here. That was the thought at that moment was if you were pregnant, you were not safe. And that was what was still on my mind when I woke up the next day.”
The next morning came.
“I got up and went to the bathroom. Once I was in there, then I realized something had to have happened,” she said. “I was frantic at this point. I ran out of the bathroom and exclaimed, ‘I’ve got to go to the emergency room!’ Because I knew that - that if you were raped, you’re supposed to go to the ER. My boyfriend said, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘I might be pregnant.’ He said, ‘You’re crazy. There’s no way you’re pregnant.’ And he convinced me that I was wrong. That nothing had happened.
Nicole didn’t want to believe her nightmare was a reality, but she couldn’t ignore what she was feeling. She broke it off with her boyfriend and a couple of weeks later did some investigating.
“I got a test at a drug store and came home and discovered one night by myself that I was right,” she said.
Nicole’s boyfriend had been drugging her for months. Now he had raped her and she was pregnant. Nicole asked for some time off and went home to decide what to do.
“I remember the plane ride going home, just sitting there and just the tears streaming down my face,” she said.
As Nicole struggled with her decision, she sought advice from her pastor.
“Her first words, once she understood the situation was, ‘Let me put your mind at ease. Any decision prayerfully considered is OK in the eyes of the church. And in your case I think you should have an abortion,’ And I thought, ‘I must be missing something. She’s been to seminary. She’s further along the road as a Christian than I am. I’m the one that’s wrong. And this must be what I really should do.’ And so at that moment, my heart closed. And I steeled myself for what I felt was I had to do; that I had to have an abortion,” Nicole said.
She called to schedule the abortion. Nicole’s life went back to normal; only it wasn’t so normal anymore.
“I would get up in the morning and cry, and dry my tears and go to work,” Nicole said. “Then I’d come home at lunch and cry, and dry my tears and go back to work. Then every night I would cry myself to sleep.”
By the day of the abortion Nicole had made up her mind.
“They handed me a stack of paperwork and I just signed my name over and over until they called me back,” she said. “They put me in this little room; it was like a closet. The doctor eventually came in and he examined me and just nodded that apparently I was far enough along that he could do the procedure. But he did not say a single word to me.”
Afterwards, Nicole thought things would be better.
“I thought if I can separate myself from every part of him, then I can get control of my life again,” she said. “But that’s not what happened at all. After the abortion, I shut down emotionally.”
For the next four years Nicole was numb.
“It was just like being the walking zombie - just going through the motions, but not really fully experiencing life again,” she said. “For me, having an abortion was like being raped again, only worse - because this time I had consented to the assault.”
Nicole concentrated on work and kept men at a distance. Then she met Patrick, a fellow officer, and the two became friends.
“Eventually Patrick was able to convince me to try dating again,” Nicole said. “He was so wonderful with me. He gave me the space and time that I needed to learn to trust again.”
Nicole told Patrick about the rape and about the abortion. His reaction surprised her.
“His response was, ‘I love you, but what you did was wrong.’ At that time I believed if I could convince everybody around me that I what I did was right, I hoped that I could convince myself,” she said. “So Patrick was the first person to put a chink in that. And it was hard facing that truth, but facing that truth was key to finding healing.”
Patrick and Nicole married, but memories of the assault lingered.
“When you’re a victim of sexual abuse, either in your childhood or as an adult, when you get married, those things revisit you,” Nicole said. “It can make intimacy in a marital relationship very difficult. And I remember reading Song of Solomon - it describes marital intimacy and God’s picture and how it’s supposed to be. I told God, ‘This is so far removed from my reality I cannot even get my mind around how this is even possible. God bring me to where you are.’”
God honored that prayer and today, Nicole and Patrick are happily married with four beautiful children.
“The world would tell you that you need to cope with your past because you’re just broken and that’s just the way it is,” Nicole said. “But that’s not God’s way. God is in the new creature business. He is the wonderful counselor we learn in scripture. He made you; He knows exactly how you’re wired and He knows how to fix you. So just trust Him and listen to that voice in your heart and He will lead you step by step by step into total healing.”
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