She was born in the USA, but she came to England after divorcing with her husband in 1911. After going to England on the Olympic, the Titanic's sister ship, she stayed with her widowed mother. They soon found out that Abbott's two sons became homesick and would have to return to New York. Rhoda's Baptist church provided the third class tickets on the Titanic. At 39 years of age, she boarded the ship in Southampton with her sons.
At the time of the sinking of the Titanic, she was heading home with her two sons Rossmore Edward Abbott and Eugene Joseph Abbott. Right before the Titanic officially sank, Rhoda and her sons jumped from the boat deck. Her grip on her sons released and she frantically tried to find them. When she lost hope, somebody from Collapsible Lifeboat A grabbed her and pulled her aboard. She could not see her sons. Seconds later, boat A was swamped and almost all the passengers were thrown out. Finally, Lifeboat 14 found them and helped them board. There was a lot of room because Lowe had distributed the passengers of his lifeboat to others. All the people who died were immediately thrown off. Soon after that, the people on Lifeboat 14 saw the Carpathia. When they were rescued, Rhoda was put into special care for her leg injuries from the cold sea. She was one of the few women to physically survive in the icy cold waters after the Titanic sank.