Intimate Abortion Involvement: The Secondary Impact of Abortion PTSD
The mother’s voice was just a whisper, “I just found out my daughter had an abortion several months ago. She doesn’t know her brother told us about it. How can we help her if she doesn’t know we know about it?”
I immediately asked the caller how she was doing personally. Her vocal responses indicated she was in pain. Impacted family members work to be emotionally prepared to speak to me which means personal grief is often set aside. Their focus is on the woman versus themselves, regardless of whether she wants comfort or not.
Thankfully, this “grand” mother shared her pain and found relief with good information. She had no direct involvement with the abortion decision but wanted to protect her teenage son. This brother had gone behind his sister’s back with this truth. Family members often cannot endure keeping such a secret, particularly if they are under 18. Abortion truth is often a great burden for those involved.
Rarely will a woman confess to a past abortion. Even more uncommon is for involved friends or family members to bring up the topic afterwards. Many grieved individuals reach out to Ramah over their involvement in someone else’s abortion decision. They feel responsible for a life lost and struggle with many symptoms of Abortion PTSD. Most want to help the woman after watching their lives spiral downwards and feeling responsible.
The process is much the same for a person who was involved in another’s abortion choice. They typically want to protect the impacted person’s privacy. Even if the involved person did not want the woman to have an abortion, many can still experience great regret, guilt, grief and shame.
These involved individuals are typically the only ones that know her secret which can be an ongoing emotional weight. Many who felt it was their duty to support the woman physically at the clinic can be impacted by sitting in the waiting room. Others may be at the woman’s side while the impact of medication abortion causes them to pass a very human looking child.
Loved ones often hold onto an abortion secret for years, believing that to ask the person directly about it would be cruel. They sadly believe they should wait for the woman to bring up the topic which likely will never happen.
Giving permission to talk to the post-abortive person about the past abortion experience is my first step with these impacted hearts. If you know about her abortion truth, you can bring up the subject.
Before they make contact, they are encouraged to learn more about Abortion PTSD and to have a local abortion recovery class referral available for them. Taking time to grieve privately is also encouraged. Unconditional love needs to be tangible in conversations involving a past abortion.
While this caller received some direction on how to best proceed, I could not tell her what to do specifically because of all the variables. I encouraged her get a copy of my book, Her Choice to Heal, Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion, outlining it would help her understand the emotions her daughter might be experiencing.
Her Choice to Heal is a great resource to provide to someone who has confessed to a past abortion decision. People rarely throw away books so even if it isn’t read immediately, it will be there if they ever find themselves ready to address it. The various stories women have shared with me about finding the book among their possessions at the perfect moment have warmed my heart. This outlines God’s mysterious ways in pursuing wayward hearts.
If you are considering giving Her Choice to Heal to a woman you know that has experienced a past abortion, be sure to read the book first to better understand this pain. Then place this book in an envelope and put that envelope inside another larger envelope. This allows the title to be hidden. When the opportunity presents itself, give it to them saying, “I found this resource and thought of you. Perhaps it may be helpful.” Then change the subject.
If they try to open the envelope in your presence, they won’t see the book’s title because of the inside envelope. This protects them from being embarrassed or forced to talk about their abortion. Instead they will have time to process the resource in the privacy of their own homes. Do not ask them about the book afterwards. Be assured that should they feel any future angst, they will have access to Godly help and encouragement.
Should you be struggling from involvement in a past abortion decision, we are here to support you as well. Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected].
Sydna Masse is President and Founder of Ramah International and author of the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion (David C. Cook Publishing).