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Catholic Vancouver May 8, 2018

Teen fleeing abuse gains interior strength at crisis pregnancy centre

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

When 19-year-old Samantha Dueck saw this ultrasound image of her child at 6-8 weeks, she immediately decided to parent, despite her difficult situation. Hope for Women has recently offered eight free ultrasounds thanks to last year's Pro-life Sunday Collection. (Photo courtesy Samantha Dueck)

LANGLEY—The ultrasound confirmed 19-year-old Samantha Dueck’s convictions: a little child was growing inside of her, and she would parent him.

While the excitement made her decision easy, her situation was not. Dueck, who grew up in a conservative Christian community in Alberta, had been in an unhealthy relationship with a boyfriend 10 years her senior.

He was addicted to drugs and alcohol and had physically and emotionally abused her. Only three days after the relationship ended and he kicked her out of their home, she found out she was pregnant.

“When I told him, it wasn’t good,” said Dueck. “He signed away his parental rights. He doesn’t want to be involved and doesn’t want to pay child support.”

Single, pregnant, and craving security and support, Dueck fled to B.C. and found comfort in the home of one of her aunts. It was while the teenager was trying to figure out what to do next that her aunt suggested they visit the crisis pregnancy centre Hope for Women Langley.

“I was going through a rough time and I didn’t know what to do and what to think,” she said. “I said, ‘Okay, let’s give this a shot.’”

Dueck received emotional support, peer counselling, and a referral to a free ultrasound. That’s when she first saw her little boy, at about 6-8 weeks gestation.

“By the time I left, I knew what I wanted to do,” she said. “It’s not the way I saw my life going, but it happened, and I knew I had to deal with it in the most positive way.”

Dueck lived with her aunt for two months and visited Hope for Women often. She and site manager Elisa Veenbaas would see and phone each other so frequently, they became like sisters.

“We’d been talking and she’d been telling me stories of other girls who found out they were pregnant and were scared and not sure what to do,” said Dueck.

“She mentioned she’d seen that I would be a good mother. That was always my fear, that I would fail as a mother.”

Dueck, who had arrived in Langley in January, eventually returned to Alberta to live with her mother. She left with suitcases packed with hand-me-down baby items, courtesy of Veenbaas and the crisis pregnancy centre that had been right there when she needed them.

“I’m a lot happier,” she said in an interview with The B.C. Catholic. “When I was with (my ex), I lost all hope of ever finding myself again or being happy with myself. Now, I see a really good future for me and my son.”

Hope for Women provides information and free resources – including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and baby items – to moms in need. Thanks to a special Pro-life Sunday collection on Father’s Day last year, it received $9,050, which it used to provide women who Google “abortion in Langley” with top search results leading to Hope for Women’s website and to provide eight free ultrasounds.

“She couldn’t believe how far along she was. She was so excited,” said Veenbaas. “She kept a picture and it was an immediate: ‘I’m going to keep this baby.’”

Veenbaas has seen an increasing number of abuse cases since she’s become the site manager at Hope for Women.

“If they are in an abusive relationship, I make sure to have a moment to make eye contact and tell her she’s valuable.”

That moment, said Veenbaas, helps women like Dueck realize their worth. “When we were saying goodbye, which was emotional for me, she gave me a hug and looked and me and said: ‘When people ask me how I’m capable to do this, I’ll say it’s because of you.’”

Dueck has the support of her mother and other family members and is looking forward to meeting her son who is due in September. She has invited Veenbaas, who is a doula and one of her close friends, to be present at the birth.

“I do get worried how it will all play out in the future and how it will happen,” but “I’m a lot safer,” said Dueck, who wanted her story published with her full name so others could be inspired.

“I’m glad I left when I did and how things happened the way they happened. It gives me a stronger outlook on life than I thought it would. There is hope.”