I think this is interesting, to hear from a person who was the product of rape. We usually only hear from the women that are assaulted, not the children who were conceived or their thoughts. Please share your thoughts.
'I was a product of rape': Miss USA 2014 hopeful reveals she was conceived when her mother was attacked at knifepoint
- Miss Pennsylvania Valerie Gatto, 24, was born after her mother was raped at knifepoint at the age of 19
than let the tragic story define her, she has used it as a platform to
help educate young girls about sexual assault awareness
17:21 EST, 5 June 2014
18:01 EST, 5 June 2014
representing Pennsylvania in the Miss USA 2014 pageant has opened up
about how she was conceived when her mother was raped at knifepoint.
Valerie Gatto, 24, revealed to Today.com
that a man dressed in black attacked her mother when she was just 19,
forcing himself upon her behind a building until a passing car spooked
him, and she managed to run away.
than let the tragic story define her, Valerie has decided to use it as a
platform to help educate women about sexual assault. 'I believe
God put me here for a reason,' she said. 'To
give [people] hope that everything is possible and you can't let your
circumstances define your life.'
Tragic past: Valerie Gatto, who is representing
Pennsylvania in the Miss USA 2014 pageant, has opened up about how she
was conceived when her mother was raped at knifepoint
Childhood curiosity: Valerie (pictured in her
very early pageant days) was six years old when she began asking about
her father. Her mother told her: 'A very bad man hurt me, but God gave
Valerie is an advocate for sexual assault awareness, traveling the
country to talk to women from 18 to 30 about how to protect themselves
against violence and sexual aggression.
she says winning the Miss USA crown would give her an even larger
platform for spreading her message of hope and solidarity.
hope to show others how to be proactive, what to do, to be present, to
be aware of your surroundings,' she said. 'It's so awesome to see their
responses. They say it changes their life.'
her biography website, Valerie - who currently works as a marketing
consultant for a periodontal practice - explains that she was six years
old when she began asking questions about her absent father, whom she'd
Positive outlook: 'I believe God put me here for
a reason,' said Valerie (pictured with her grandfather).'To give hope
that everything is possible and you can't let your circumstances define
Exercise outfit: Valerie, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, at a Power Walk event
World traveler: In summer 2013, Valerie spent 52
days in Europe exploring the cultures and teaching English to Italian
children (pictured dancing in Rome)
when she was ten, her mother told her the truth. She revealed that she
didn't tell her family she was pregnant, and had every intention of
putting Valerie up for adoption until the night that she was born.
'I believe God put me here for a reason, to give people hope that everything is possible'
mom told her family about her adoption plans; but Valerie's
great-grandmother said - God doesn't give you more than you can handle,'
reads the beauty queen's biography.
'Her mother listened and decided to raise Valerie with the help of God and her family.'
Valerie told Today: 'Being
a child of a rape, not knowing who my father is, not knowing if he's
ever been found, most people would think it's such a negative
Fight for a cause: Now, Valerie is an advocate
for sexual assault awareness and she says winning the Miss USA crown
would give her an even larger platform for spreading her message
Staying strong: She says her family's strong Christian faith was a major factor in her positive outlook on life
On the contrary, 'I grew up with my mom and my grandparents. They never looked at it as something negative,' she explained.
'I have a loving, supportive family who told me I could be the president of the United States.'
who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, says her family's
strong Christian faith was also a major factor in her positive outlook
Tourist activities: Valerie has made the most of
her time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the pageant is taking place
(pictured showing off her Cajun shrimp and grits at a local restaurant)
Seeing the sights: The 24-year-old beauty queen
also took a break from pageant training to visit a house in Baton Rouge
for high tea
Competing for the crown: The 2014 Miss USA competition will air on NBC on Sunday at 8pm ET
also helped her mother cope with the rape. Valerie says she told her
when she was a child: 'Something bad happened to me. A very bad man hurt
me, but God gave me you.'
'I hope to show others how to be proactive, to be present, to be aware of your surroundings'
Valerie told TribLive.com
in December that even though her conception was under terrifying
circumstances, she is always grateful that her mother lived through it,
thanks to the bright light from the passing car, which she sees as a
like to think of that light as my mother's and (my) guardian angel,'
she said, adding: 'She always would tell me I was her light - I am the
light to illuminate the darkness for all to see.'