The lady 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. But today, rather 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. To give [people] hope that everything is possible and you can't let your circumstances define your life.'Valerie explains that she was six years old when she began asking questions about her absent father, whom she'd never met. Finally, when she was ten, her mother told her the truth. Her mother told her: 'A very bad man hurt me, but God gave me you'.
|Valerie as a kid|
Valerie's mum 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. She told her family about her adoption plans; but Valerie's great-grandmother said - God doesn't give you more than you can handle.'
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 situation. On the contrary, I grew up with my mom and my grandparents. They never looked at it as something negative. I have a loving, supportive family who told me I could be the president of the United States.'
Valerie says that even though her conception was under terrifying circumstances, she is always grateful that her mother lived through it, thanks to her family's strong Christian faith and the bright light from the passing car, which she sees as a meaningful symbol.