CHAPTER FIVE

 

Whom Can I Talk To?

 

 

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"I have always had the need to talk, but no one would talk about it.  It has always been a hush-hush topic.  But I need to talk about it . . . it's been kept inside me for four long years."

Anonymous

 

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alking to someone is different from telling others about your abortion.  We talk to someone for the purpose of working through our predicaments.  Perhaps a better term would be "discuss with."  On the other hand, we tell others about our experiences in order to help them.  This chapter focuses on talking as differentiated from telling.



Why can't I talk to anyone about this experience?

 

            Often our desire to talk is great, but our fear of exposure and rejection is greater.  Our pride tends to get in the way as we wonder, "Will people think less of me?  Laugh at me?  Hate me?"  Sometimes the pain is so great it seems impossible to speak of it openly.  Another consideration is that once your abortion is spoken of, you will have admitted how wrong your it was.  Then you will have to deal with it.  You will be unable to hide behind the shield of denial any longer.



Is there any benefit in talking to someone about my abortion?

 

            For a woman who has submitted to an abortion, the desire to talk can be unbearable.  You need to share your feelings, to sort it all out verbally.  Yet, fear or shame or embarrassment keeps you from vocalizing your thoughts.  On the other hand, keeping it inside isn't helping.  Sometimes you need to have someone put their arms around you.  Sometimes the verbal reassurance, "It's okay, we'll work through this together," is what you seek.  The desire to know that someone still loves them in spite of what they have done prompts some women to break their silence.  Other times advice or counsel is desired.

 

 

How can I evaluate a post-abortion counselor or support group?

 

            Because abortion is a critical issue in our nation and world today, "help" seems to be crop­ping up all over the place.  A few people and organizations will be out to take your money or exploit you.  Thankfully, most have a sincere desire to help you resolve your conflicts (although this does not always guarantee beneficial methods of resolving your problems will be offered). 

            Here are five practical guidelines to follow when you decide to talk to someone.  If you stick to them, you will more than likely find a sympathetic ear and helping hands.

            1.  Choose someone you can trust.  Nothing is worse than telling another person your secret only to have that person blab it all over town.  Know the person in whom you choose to confide or else get a referral from people you trust.

            2.  Find someone who will not minimize your abortion experience.  I've heard from several women whose counselor ignored or negated their abortion experience. One women told her therapist she had had an abortion.  The therapist answered, "That's okay, I had one too," and went on to another topic.  My friend, your abor­tion has changed your life.  It plays a vital part in how you react and respond to other people and situations.  If your counselor, whoever he or she may be, will not permit you to discuss your abortion and your feelings related to it, find another counselor.  Don't minimize your feelings about your abortion and don't permit anyone else to minimize them either.

            3.  Choose someone who will give more than a listening ear.  Here’s an analogy that fits our situation so well.  A man slowly sinks in quicksand.  On the shore sits a person offering "support."  This person agrees that the problem is great and something must be done.  He sympathizes and commiserates.  Still the man con­tinues sinking.  All the while, a sturdy, long rope lies next to the person sitting on the shore.  Yet this tangible and needed assistance is ignored.  The man in the quicksand sinks to his death, never getting the help that was available because his "counselor" offered only a listening ear.[1]  Talk to someone who will offer sup­port you can grab hold of to pull yourself out of your predicament.

            4.  Select counseling or support which offers advice based on truth.  Your counselor should believe that life begins at conception and that God has created that life in His own image.  You won't find help if you and your counselor are at odds regarding the fact that abortion kills an unborn baby.

            5.  Expect kindness from the person with whom you talk.  Job's "friends" from the Bible leap to mind as I write this.  Here was a man whose "friends" reacted improperly to his dilemma.  Instead of showing compassion, they ground dirt even further into his wounds.  Job needed encouragement and constructive advice, just as you do.  Yet his friends called him a liar and refused to believe what he told them about his situation and his feelings.  Heed Job's words when evaluating those you talk with: "For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friends; Lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty" (Job 6:14). 

What are my options? 

            Look first to your parents, husband, boyfriend or someone else close to you.  A person who knows you well may be in a position to help you talk through your abortion experience.  Mary Ann writes:  "My husband, to whom I had told about my affair and abortion shortly after we were mar­ried, was my lifeline.  He listened as I talked and cried about it over and over and he offered comfort and love.  Little by little I was able to come to terms with it." 

            Ministers are trained to counsel those in distress.  If you do not belong to a church, ask a trusted friend to recommend a pastor to you.  As with any person, some will understand and some will reject you for your abortion.  Some may reject you as a "sinner" without thinking of you as a person who has done something wrong.  Find another counselor.  However, most are understanding and can separate your action from you.

            Consider talking with a lay counselor.  Many crisis pregnancy centers and, of course, post-abortion groups have lay people who are trained to gently guide post-abortion women in resolving their hurts.  As an added encouragement to break your silence, the counselors in these groups are often post-abortion women themselves.

            Professional counselors are an obvious outlet for your need to talk.   If you choose to pursue this option, select a counseling service which views abortion as wrong and will not belittle your experience.  Any counselor, lay or professional, should help you to understand and accept your responsibility for your part in your abortion.  The focus should be on you and what you have done rather than on others and what they have done.

            Another avenue for your need to talk is a support group. In our day and age there is a sup­port group for almost every imaginable situation ¾ alcoholics, drug abuser, runaways, singles, divor­cees, on and on they go ad infinitum.  Support groups are just what the name implies.  These are groups that exist to encourage you by sharing common concerns.  Christian support groups base their teachings on the Holy Bible.  Post-abortion support groups meet regularly, usually weekly or monthly, for their members to discuss problems, share methods of cop­ing, encourage one another by testimonies of God’s work in their lives, and challenge you to keep working on solving your abortion conflicts.

            You may feel reluctant to join a support group.  After all, you want to keep your abortion as secret as possible.  Some support groups use only first names to assure confidentiality.  Remember, the women present have experienced abortion.  They have walked in your shoes.  They share your secret as their own.  You may attend only once or you may decide to come on a regular basis.  Usu­ally women are encouraged to come and go as they desire.  You may meet a woman to whom you feel especially close.  The two of you may form a lasting friendship as you nurture and help each other.  Support groups generally meet in auditoriums of libraries, lodges, and other neutral settings which provide a nonthreatening atmosphere ¾ a place you will not feel uncomfortable walking into.

            Post-abortion Bible studies[2] help a woman resolve her post-abortion trauma as she learns and applies principles set forth in the Holy Bible to her life. Usually each woman has her own workbook and spends a few hours each week looking up Scripture and studying it on her own.  When the Bible study group meets, women share with one another what they have learned and how they have applied it to their lives.

            A Bible study should be closed.  That is, after the first week or two, no more women are allowed to join until a new study begins.  This serves several very impor­tant purposes.  One, it limits the size to a workable number of people ¾ usually five to ten.  Two, intimacy is encouraged by having a closed group.  You meet with the same women weekly for several weeks.  This leads to a bond of trust which enables you to "open up" as you may not have felt able to do in a less intimate group.  Three, Bible studies are usually held in someone's home, which fosters a sense of comfort and relaxation.

 

 

What if I just can't reach out to someone?

 

            If you are in despair because you believe you simply cannot go to anyone, can not place your trust in any person regarding your experience, there is one other avenue open to you.  You can talk to God.  It's a natural reaction to turn to God in times of affliction because we instinctively know we will find comfort and answers.  God always listens and can give help no one else has the power to give.

            "Praying" is the term used for talking to God.  Luke 18:1 tells us we should pray at all times and not lose heart.  Among other things, prayer rescues us from trouble (Psalm 50:15); restores righteous­ness (Job 33:26); and provides answers (Mark 11:24).  God hears you while you are still speaking and answers as you call on Him (Isaiah 65:34).  Isn't that great news! 

            Remember that although talking it out with someone helps, people are fallible.  Be sure you put your faith and trust in God, not in people.  Other people may provide answers, but God is the origina­tor of the answers you seek.



Your Thoughts

 

 

Before I read this chapter, I had a question about . . .

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In this chapter I have learned . . .

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To resolve my post-abortion trauma, I will . . .

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I need to talk to God about . . .

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A verse from the Bible which helped me in this chapter is . . .

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After reading this chapter, I have hope because . . .

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[1]  Adapted from Counselor Training Manual (Open Arms, Colorado Springs, 1989), pp. 1-5.

[2]  Rainbows in the Night, Hope After Abortion, by Debra Jones, published by Post Abortion Ministries (P×A×M), is an excellent post-abortion Bible study which can be done individu­ally or in a group. 



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