Woman raped by stepfather at 12 years old shares story, reacts to state’s abortion trigger law

Hadley Duvall shares her story and why she's glad she had a choice
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 7:43 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WBKO) - WARNING: Some of these details might be difficult for those who have experienced similar trauma.

Hadley Duvall was an innocent 12-year-old when she learned she was pregnant.

Her stepfather, Jeremy Whitledge, would later plead guilty to raping her and is now serving prison time.

“I was in seventh-grade, I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I asked him why he was doing what he was doing, and he manipulated me and told me that this is normal and that this is love and that’s what love is. So, that’s what I believed.”

Now, 20 years old, Duvall is telling her story of the years of sexual abuse, which started when she was five and continued for years.

“I missed my period one month and I was like, ‘oh my gosh I don’t even know what to do.’ So I told him,” she said. “I told my stepdad and he was like, ‘well I’m going to have to come check you out of school one day. Just pretend like you’re sick and I’ll check you out and we’ll go get a test.’ So that’s what we did. They were positive and I had no idea what to do.”

She eventually miscarried.

“That was painful, I was alone, and I couldn’t tell anybody,” she said. “I couldn’t go get any medical attention.”

Now, years later, Duvall says, “I’m to the point now to where I will speak out because I’ve been sitting on it for so long and I’m starting to grow up and if I don’t do it, I don’t know who will.”

When the Roe v. Wade decision came down, Duvall’s thoughts went to the little girls who are going through similar traumatic events as she did.

Here in Kentucky, an abortion can only be performed to save the life of the mother. As of now, there is no exception for rape or incest.

“It doesn’t matter the extent of the reason to why somebody needs to make their own decision about anything in life. I don’t understand how someone could look at a little girl and tell them, ‘oh you were raped, well, I’m sorry you’re just going to have to carry the baby.’ Or you know, ‘watch what you wear,’ like it doesn’t work like that,” Duvall said.

She says the decision to get an abortion isn’t black or white. She points to the many factors that could play in a woman’s decision.

“Who gives you the power to do that? Who decides what is black and what is white? Who decides what the gray area is? You have to think about all these girls who have pregnancies that go wrong, or who are not mentally or physically ready to carry a child or to take care of a child,” she said. “You don’t know their relationship situation. They could have come from abuse, like you just don’t know.”

As the country grapples with the Supreme Court ruling and lawmakers deciding whether abortion will be legal in their states, Duvall says, “I am going to use my power to help all of the people that I used to be, and whenever they’re ready they need to use their voice and they need to never look back after doing it.”

This isn’t everyone’s story, but this is Hadley’s story.

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