Lunch with Marjorie: Rainy days that will never go away

Renee Scrivano began as executive director of Beloit’s Stateline Pregnancy Center four years ago, but her journey there started 20 years ago. I was impressed with her openness, telling me her story as we lunched at Angelina’s Italian Deli in South Beloit.

“How did you get involved at the Center?” I asked.

“It’s a two-fold story. When I was 18, I was pregnant. I was brought up in the church. A lot of people judged me for being pregnant…not being married. People didn’t know my story, my situation. You know, just, bad girl.”

We enjoyed grilled ciabatta sandwiches: turkey and ham on sun-dried focaccia for Renee; proscuitto and capicola on the Italian herb bread for me.

“You felt bad?”

“I was angry with God because He let this happen to me.”

“You were a Sunday school girl who…”

“Went bad,” she smiled gently, her beautiful brown eyes soft and peaceful.

“I went to a Christian college; I just expected him to be a Christian. I dated him for about a month before he started to go bad. Then I realized I needed to get away from this guy. Every day for three months, he would physically hurt me in some way. The first time we had sex, it was more like a rape thing.”

“Date rape?”

“Right. Then I didn’t care. I (felt) why wouldn’t God protect me from something like this? Why weren’t there alarms or signals or something?”

Her boyfriend threatened to kill her if she left.

“So, you went home.”

“My mom was angry. She wanted me to put the baby up for adoption. I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that.”

“Did you consider abortion?”


“And where was your father?”

“My parents divorced when I was 16. My stepdad…sexually abused both my sister and me. One thing they find with women who are abortive—a lot of their parents are divorced.”

“The second part of the story?”

“My abortion.”

Back at home she had begun dating a former boyfriend.

“We (had broken) up at Christmas time because I was in college…then I came home…and went back with this guy.”

She became pregnant again when she was 21.

“That was my rock bottom. I started to see things…he was selling drugs…would go to a gas station and get angry and beat somebody up for no reason at all. He told me one time he killed somebody in Florida. I knew this is not what I wanted. I just wanted him out of my life. He paid for the abortion. I was so…you get so caught up in your consequences. Here’s this tornado. All I thought in my mind at that time was I wanted to get this tornado out of my life. The night before…I couldn’t sleep. I was bothered … unsettled.”

“Did you consider changing your mind?”

“Not at that time…until, in the abortion room, the doctor said, ‘It’s trying to get away.’”

“You went home that day?”

“And cried for days, literally days. It hit right away…because he said ‘it.’ I was praying for God to stop this from happening; in my head I was screaming as loud as I could. But of course couldn’t get the words out.”

Now, 19 years later, Renee says she’s OK and that working at the pregnancy center is kind of like having a baby.

“Because you’re nurturing it, caring for it. It’s like a demanding child.”

“These experiences must give you compassion and mixed feelings.”

“At the beginning, I had a lot of mixed feelings. Then I was silent and not telling my story.”

“Are you an idealist?”

“My goal is to help other people who were in the same situation…to see things clearly, not to come with judgments. I can’t judge. I’ve been there.”

She shares her story with her clients.

“It’s interesting. You can see the guard go down right away, and they’re more willing to listen because of the fact that I’ve been there.”

She listens and helps, but isn’t a placard carrier.

“Instead of fighting the law, picketing abortion clinics, and standing on the corner with a sign—change the law! If you want something to happen, change the law.”

“And your family?”

“They’re very supportive. I’m not into people driving around in cars and yelling, ‘You’re killing your baby.’ I’m not into that. I don’t think that helps as much as being one-on-one…just talking face to face and being real.”

“We make assumptions about people without getting to know them, don’t we?”


“Is the trauma gone?”

“Will it ever go away? I would say no. The regret…is always there. If I could have done things differently, I would have. There are triggers…rainy days. I hate rainy days.”

Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years.

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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