Miss USA Contestant Conceived From Rape Works to Educate Women About Sexual Assault

Christine Rousselle

6/7/2014 4:39:00 PM - Christine Rousselle

Miss Pennsylvania USA Valerie Gatto, a contestant in Sunday's Miss USA pageant, revealed in an interview that she was conceived when her 19 year-old mother was raped at knifepoint. She now travels the country to speak to women about sexual assault awareness and protection. She's hoping that a Miss USA win will give her a bigger platform to spread her message.

Gatto's mother was planning on placing her for adoption until the night before her birth, deciding last-minute to raise her with help from "God and family." Gratto says that her family's deep Christian faith helped her mother cope with the trauma from the attack and give her the strength to raise her.

Gatto began asking questions about her father when she was young. In third grade, she was told the version appropriate for someone her age: “Something bad happened to me. A very bad man hurt me but God gave me you.”

Regardless of how the pageant ends up, Gatto says she feels like she inside she feels she's already won.

“Losing is not an option,” she said. “In my mind, I believe that I’m already Miss USA.”

This story is a great reminder that the circumstances of our birth do not dictate the rest of our lives, and that all life is precious.