Silent Sufferers: Recovering From Pain of Abortion

You hear it everyday … TV, radio, internet, newspapers. Forty years after legalization in the United States, abortion remains a hot and divisive issue. But in the wake of the over 55 million abortions having been performed in the United States since 1973, remain the multitudes of “silent sufferers,” for whom abortion has been a traumatic life-changing experience.

Who are these “silent sufferers”? They are family members, neighbors, co-workers, those sitting next to us in church. With 43% of American women having had an abortion, there is a strong likelihood that half of the people you come in contact with have been affected from their decision to abort, many exhibiting symptoms of Post Abortion Stress.

Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography - Creative Commons

Haven’t heard of Post Abortion Stress? Not surprising. We hear about the effect on babies that are aborted, but little attention is paid to what happens after to those that are left behind living with the decision. Post Abortion Stress is a term first coined in 1981 from a group of researchers who reported, and peer-reviewed research increasingly confirms since, that abortion functions as a stress that places women at higher risk for developing a range of mental health problems, such as depression, loss of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, self-hatred, drug and alcohol abuse, sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, chronic problems with relationships, dramatic personality changes, anxiety attacks, guilt and remorse, difficulty grieving, increased tendency toward violence, chronic crying, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and people, and difficulty bonding with later children. It is not uncommon that symptoms lay dormant until later in life.

Fortunately, revival is beginning. The unavoidable talk in the media is churning discussion about the consequences of abortion and spurring the “silent sufferers” to seek out recovery programs. Every time the word “abortion” is featured, the inner pain of the post-abortive is triggered. This is the revival we have prayed for. But to whom do the “silent sufferers” turn and do they all seek help?

Some will dig deeper into their pain, refusing to consider their past decision has any correlation with the agony they are experiencing. The inner turmoil, never addressed, can be agonizing. But quite often post-abortive will seek help within their church, since 79% of post-abortive profess to be Christians, 43% identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% identify themselves as Catholic. Ministry leaders unequipped about the needs of the post-abortive are learning first-hand the particular agony that has festered within their congregations for many years. Churches are now seeking resources and training to begin ministries to help the post-abortive to find God’s healing.

What can your church do to reach out to the Post-Abortive? Here are a few suggestions:

● Understand the many factors that lead to an abortion decision: pressure from others, lack of information, and the feeling they have no other choice. This understanding enables us to avoid condemning.

● Understand that because abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973, our society now considers it normal and acceptable. People believe it is their right and bears no consequences. Most importantly, realize that no one is addressing the severe emotional and physical effects of abortion.

● Understand the cost our society has paid for legalized abortion. If we fully realized the cost, in human suffering, abortion has caused since 1973 (suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, abuse of women and children), we would be shaken to our core.

● Understand the pain someone experiences from an abortion. Be compassionate and loving.

● Understand the need to make your church a place where people can feel safe to share their pain caused by an abortion. The post-abortive often sit in silence for decades, afraid to share their experience for fear of judgment. Testimonies of individuals who have life-changing experiences from abortion are powerful tools to reach others in similar situations.

● Understand their need for forgiveness. Many believe that because they knew it was wrong and did it anyway, abortion is a sin too big for God to forgive and often are unable to forgive themselves.

● Understand and address the need to develop a specific ministry for post-abortion healing within your church.

● Understand the power of love … where they are … as they are. Allow the post-abortive to see the love, hope and healing power of Jesus Christ. When the hurting have walked through the healing process, they then can speak out, impassioned to take their message of pain and healing to the world around them, perpetuating the truth of the harmfulness of abortion and the healing found only in Jesus.

Guest Blogger Debby Efurd is Director of Post-Abortion Support for Involved for Life, Inc., Dallas, Texas (Downtown Pregnancy Center, Uptown Women’s Center, Sonograms-On-Site), leading post-abortion Bible studies and facilitator training. You can read more at http://debbyefurd.com/

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Studies Support Negative Impact of Abortion

A recent article that I read said abortion hurts women. When I was 19, I was looking for help with a difficult situation while in college and no one mentioned the possibility that my choice might hurt me.

The negative impact of abortion continues to be a controversial topic between pro-life and pro-choice groups. There is still an ongoing debate about whether abortion is like other traumatic events that cause Post-Traumatic Stress, or more specifically, Post-Abortion Stress (PAS). It is not recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) despite years of research proving that it is a real condition for many women.

There is an informative article concerning the history of the debate titled, “A Tidal Wave of Published Data, More Than 30 Studies in Last Five Years Show Negative Impact of Abortion on Women” by Priscilla Coleman, Ph.D. Dr. Coleman is the leading published expert about the real and psychological impact of abortion on women.

PAS, as described on the Ramah International website, is “a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. The process of making an abortion choice, experiencing the procedure and living with the grief, pain and regret is certainly, at its very core, traumatic. As with any trauma, individuals often try to “forget” the ordeal and deny or ignore any pain that may result. Many simply don’t relate their distress to the abortion experience. At some point, however, memories resurface and the truth of this loss can no longer be denied. During these moments, the pain of post-abortion stress reveals itself in the hearts of millions of lives.”

For me, I spent years in denial after my abortion. At first I used alcohol, relationships and a career to hide from it. The pain became most intense when I became pregnant again. The realization of what I had done became so vivid during my pregnancy, that overwhelming regret brought me to my knees several times.

If you are considering an abortion, or have had an abortion, read about the potential impact on your life, especially now that there is enough research available. I think understanding PAS is a way for women to learn about the long term risks. But most importantly, you need to talk to someone personally about your decision that understands the effects of abortion and can help you. I wish I had.

If you’d like to read Dr. Coleman’s article, go to: http://theunchoice.com/News/colemanresearcharticle.html

Editor’s Note: For confidential information regarding abortion healing, contact Debby Efund with Life After Abortion; help@uptownwomenscenter.com.

 

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Guys & Valentine’s Day: They Don’t Mix

Anti-Valentine Button

This blog post is going to be short and not so sweet. Ladies, maybe I’ve just spent more time hanging out with the guys than you, but I am not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. It can often seem more about showing off than loving someone. It’s really about who-gets-flowers-at-the-office, or who-got-the-terrible-chocolates kind of holiday.

So, what to do? I think there are a few strategies I would recommend:

1 – Plan Valentine’s Day with your boyfriend. Give ‘em a break. He doesn’t like, want or even know what to do on Valentine’s Day. The overwhelming sea of flowers, balloons and chocolates is blinding when you walk into any store. This year, rather than make him guess, plan something you’ll both enjoy on or around Valentine’s Day.


2 – Have fun taking advantage of the deals. This year I have noticed that some restaurants are running specials not just on Valentine’s Day, but other days too. So, take advantage! Try a new place and get a good deal at the same time. My rule is never to go out on the actual holiday. I am all for having quality time, so some years, given time and money, we do something. And when I do, I take advantage of the many marketing strategies that everyone is using to get your Valentine’s Day dollars.

3 – Take a single friend out instead.  You know who needs love on Valentine’s Day more than you? That friend who doesn’t have a boyfriend, or has a very recent ex-boyfriend.Your guy will be happy staying home with his favorite pizza and the latest action movie you got him from the Redbox for $2. Grab your friend and be a couple instead. There are many Un-Valentine’s Day events going on all around, join one of those – with, or maybe without, your boyfriend.

Aaron Traister, a blogger for Redbook said, “We feel like it [Valentine’s Day] is designed to make men feel like inadequate insensitive failures.”

Sorry to spoil the romance, red and heightened potential for such a day, but it is really just a Thursday. Take advantage of it, but don’t be disappointed when your man doesn’t!!

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Roe vs. Wade – What’s all the Fuss?

I didn’t have an opinion about Roe vs. Wade. Throughout my life I’d heard about it, I mean, I think most women know that Roe vs. Wade = Abortion is My Right. I never gave much thought to it, until I enjoyed that right.

For me, though, my relationship with Roe vs. Wade actually began even sooner. You see, my adoption took place in 1973. I ‘made the cut’ in a way. Fortunately, I was born to the daughter of religious folks who thought it better to send her away to an unwed mother’s home in Canada. Ultimately, I was lovingly and sacrificially placed with a family in New York.

This fact wasn’t exactly a secret, but it wasn’t something my family or I openly talked about much. As I grew up and my newborn head went from bald to bright red, we all realized that my personality was just like my loud and wild hair. That’s why I carried even more secrets, adoption being the last of them.

My biggest secret erupted 15 years after a sweet baby girl died. I can still hear the woman saying it from the stage, “If you’ve ever experienced abortion, even if it was 15 years ago, you need to talk to someone about it”.

It was almost 15 years to the day since I had my abortion. Emotionally I was always breaking apart and confused despite the understanding that abortion was my right. Everyone says you’ll be okay. But the first thing I heard after was, “How could you do that?” I cried. I cried so hard that the nurse had to shake me to make me stop.

You shove it down as far as you can and go on with your life. Later, after marriage, with each new pregnancy I’d find myself desperately broken and on my knees in unbelievable regret.  As my babies grew and developed inside, the reality of what I had done was inescapable.

That day…..the day the woman spoke, it changed my life. I was introduced to the gift of healing.

I think about all the women who feel it’s their right to have an abortion because 40 years ago the Supreme Court said so in the case of Roe vs. Wade.  I wonder how many of them regret the fact that they enjoyed that right?  I hope women wake up and realize that, legal or not, a life is lost and a scar is formed.

The great news is that people out there now offer support and healing from the pain of abortion. What would more women look like if abortion was the last option, the least of all the possible roads when facing an unplanned pregnancy? The possibility of healing from your abortion is even being brought to TV. An article posted by Lifenews.com announced:

Surrender the Secret is a new reality television series that will premiere on Knock TV beginning January 22, 2013, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The bottom line is that a woman’s abortion often affects and hurts her in ways she did not expect. That’s my truth and I want women to learn that there is help and healing available to them. They don’t have to live with their painful past as a dirty little secret any more.

Editor’s Note: For confidential information regarding abortion healing, contact Debby Efund with Life After Abortion; debby.efurd@gmail.com

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Get iFit with iPhone in 2013!

Did you find a new or improved iPhone under the tree this year? Are you trying to find ways to use your iPhone to help accomplish that exercise resolution? Not only can we stay connected, stay informed, and stay entertained with our cellular devices, but we can also STAY fit with the help of an array of free or nearly-free apps.  So, the next time you’re sitting at red light (or, better, sitting at home), download a few of these:

-          BMI Calculator: Weight alone is not an accurate indicator of whether a person is underweight, average, or overweight – height must be taken into account.  Quickly calculate and understand your body mass index with this free app.

-          Nike Boom: Set your workout time and indicate how long you want to spend on your warm up and cool down.  Then, select your playlist from your own music library and you’re ready to start.  Voices of real athletes and coaches offer motivation as you work.

-          Nike Training Club: This free app gives you your own personal trainer with over 60 custom-built workouts set to your own music and goals.  Access step-by-step instructions and video demos for every drill.  Track your workout history and training progress.  You can even challenge a friend by sharing your workout status on Facebook or Twitter.

-          Butt Workout: Sometimes all it takes to get you motivated at the gym is making a list in advance of what exercises you are going to try.  This app does the work for you by providing a list of effective gluteus exercises along with a video and written description for each exercise.

-          Women’s Health – Amazing Abs: Browse through individual exercises that target all major muscle groups.  A great way help switch up your workout.

-          SimGym: Another spot to find a list of exercises, sorted by muscle group.

-          iheartradio: Tired of listening to the soles of your shoes hit the belt on the treadmill?  Try this app for free access to any radio station…and it’s live!

-          Pandora: Tired of listening to the rubber of your treadmill-neighbor’s squeaky shoes hit the belt?  This free app allows you to set your own “radio station” around a particular artist or style of music.  Pandora selects and plays songs that are related to that artist or style of music.  You have the option of giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down for each song.  Pandora then selects the next song based on your likes and dislikes.

-          And, if you find yourself running through those yellow and red lights to get to the hospital because your contractions are two minutes apart, it’s probably too late to download this app, but if you’re in the beginning stages of labor, this free app might come in handy.  It’s called CtxTimer, and it displays the time since your last contraction, your 20-minute and 60-minute averages, and a total count from the last 24 hours.  No more “ummms” when the triage nurse asks for your history over the past 24 hours.

Some day in the future, our iPhones (or other cellular devices) might be able to do the workout for us, but until then, put your device to work for you by checking out the fitness apps available for download.  Stay connected, stay motivated, and stay iFit.  

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New Year, Better Relationships?

“I thought he was a good man” is what I kept hearing one night as I sat around a table with my closest girlfriends.  We sat and swapped those “can’t take em’ back moments” with various men we had dated.  It made me so sad to know that each of us had more negative experiences than good ones. This got me thinking, and being an analytical person, I couldn’t help but contemplate the results of our stories

It seemed like there are two types of relationships in this world: healthy and unhealthy. Probably nothing new here, but how does one tell the difference between the two?  Especially when so many relationships seem to start out so healthy?

Here are a few things to think about when considering your own relationships. These were taken from a 2009 Article “Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships” by Nikole Allen, describing the signs to consider when you’re in a relationship.  Below are a few tips, but you can view them all at: http://depts.washington.edu/hhpccweb/article-detail.php?ArticleID=376&ClinicID=13.

Take note first, it is important to know that all relationships have characteristics from both sides, so that being said, relationships need constant care and attention for you to be sure you are heading in the right direction.

Unhealthy Signs

*  Put one person before the other by neglecting yourself or your partner

*  Feel pressure to change who you are for the other person

*  Feel worried when you disagree with the other person

*  Feel pressure to quit activities you usually/use to enjoy

Healthy Signs

*  Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship

*  Maintain and respects each other’s individuality

*  Maintain relationships with friends and family

*  Have activities apart from one another

*  Are able to express yourself to one another without fear or consequences

*  Feel safe and comfortable

So, this year when you find yourself in a relationship, or if you are in one now, know that most importantly you are priceless. No one deserves to be in an unhealthy environment, but we all need to know how to figure out if we are. If you still aren’t sure, ask some friends or family and weigh their input. A New Year is always a chance to make healthy changes for you. Come back for more of life’s uprooting and exploring…

Regards,

A fellow Sojourner

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