Transcript 19 Jan 2023 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
Host: Lisa Rowe, CEO Support After Abortion
Lisa Rowe 1:56
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the first Abortion Healing Provider meeting of the new year. We are so glad you’re here. Thank you for coming today. We have a hungry group. I’m so excited to see all your faces. Thank you for making time today to be here with us. I know that the first month of the year is always busy, so it’s so meaningful that you would spend your time with us today.
As many of you know, my name is Lisa Roe. I have the privilege of serving as the CEO for Support After Abortion. I am really excited about today’s message because it’s so important, especially as we’re looking at the beginning of the year. We’re assessing what went well last year. We’re looking at our health goals and our vision boards. And I am going to speak to every single one of you. I know that everybody is coming to this meeting today with something that either they tried already to change and that’s already fallen off because you had that piece of cake last night, or you’re really working on doing something different, keeping that boundary, taking hold of a new habit. And it just seems to be that this month always has that in store for our culture. So we felt like it would be really important to talk to you about what it is to serve from a full cup. What does it really mean to be a healthy helper today?
And I have the awesome opportunity to do these conversations often because as a clinician, I train interns. And it’s not uncommon for my interns to really struggle at times with our clients. Usually when they are struggling, it’s not because they don’t know what to do. It’s because something about that interaction with that client triggered a part of them that has yet to be healed.
So I want to just draw our attention to what that might look like for us and our practices in abortion healing and serving others who may also struggle with this. I know at times I have just felt so tired and drained that I couldn’t give another minute of myself to one more person. Or I got really snippy or short with a client. I think the worst is when I had a client text me and ask, “Are you okay today?” It was a real eye opening experience to think, what did she see that I didn’t know about myself?
Hopefully today’s meeting will carry some of these practical, self-evaluating experiences for you as you journey forward in 2023. I’m going to use a presentation to help me articulate most of what I’m sharing today. But then I’m going to ask you if you’re open, to be vulnerable, to share with us if you can relate to this message. Partly because when we can see ourselves in someone else, it is very validating… when you know that people on this call struggle with something that you struggle with. Maybe it’s that imposter syndrome that we walk with, or that pride that we walk with. Our ego starts to dismantle, and our vulnerability allows us to grow.
Why Do We Serve?
I want to start with these conversations that some of us face as we’re working with our clients. Why do we serve? Why did you choose to take an hour out of your time today? To get better at what you do, to be a part of a community that is yearning to grow and affect change in abortion healing. We all have our own reasons. We all have a why. And here are some of them that we hear throughout our journey.
When I had an unplanned pregnancy, I felt so scared and alone. I want to protect other people from that experience.
I believe God called me to do this.
My daughter died from SIDS at a year old. When I was having a hard time, a nurse helped me.
I want to give back. I want to serve, to feel better about my life.
Maybe, I didn’t have anybody there for me, and I don’t want that to be another person’s story or When I was getting divorced and experienced X, this particular neighbor stepped in in a place that I really needed, and I want to do that for somebody else.
We all have those experiences. I want us to start with truly capturing that before we move on to the next slide. Maybe you have a little sticky note on the back of an envelope, whatever that is. When you think about why you serve, don’t think about it for too long. I want you to think about what is your reason? Why did you come to today’s call? What is your reason for serving? Let’s capture that. 3 seconds. Write it down. Take a minute to really contemplate that.
In the chat feature, some providers shared their “Why”:
After my abortion I was desperately seeking support that didn’t have a religious agenda. I wanted to be the therapist people felt comfortable to reach out to without fear of being shamed or judged.
I had an abortion when I was in my teens. I want to share with others so they perhaps can avoid going through what I did.
I know the way abortion destroyed my life and the healing God brought me. I want to share that with others who need healing.
If you’re having to really stretch yourself about why you do what you do, I want you to really be open to why it’s so hard for you to identify that. But for most of you, you’ve figured it out and you know why.
Are You Pouring From an Empty or Full Cup?
Now you’ll see a picture of a cup that’s overflowing and a cup that’s empty.
You’ve heard this analogy before. We want to pour from a full cup. We can’t give from an empty cup. But perhaps this message might sound a little different today as I think about the times in my life when my cup has been absolutely empty.
It wasn’t because I wasn’t feeling good. It wasn’t because I didn’t have money in my bank account. It wasn’t for all the tangible things that our world would say. It was for all the invisible things that nobody else knew about unless I talked about them.
It was that I had been silently stuffing the pain of a relationship that failed and didn’t talk to anybody about it. The things that emptied my cup that were invisible might have been that I yelled at my daughter before she went to bed, and I didn’t want anybody to know about it. Or that I cheated a customer out of X, Y and Z money to pay for something that I wanted. Again, invisible. Nobody saw it. I had been cutting my wrists and nobody knew about it; I wore long sleeves to work. I had been drinking wine every night for the last 30 days to try to numb the pain of this relationship that failed again. That’s where in my life I have realized the emptiness comes from.
We don’t often understand in those moments that that is depleting our cup. We are in robot mode where we are trying to survive the pain. And many of us, because we are serving from a place of brokenness, because we do want people to not experience the pains that we did, sometimes end up trying to do both – trying to heal ourselves through these really broken places and trying to help other people.
And it just doesn’t work well. Because if we don’t have nourishment in our heart, if we don’t have nourishment in our cup, we can’t give to those people. So what did it look like as I started filling my cup? And don’t think for one second I have this figured out! I am very tired today, and I’m thinking about my week, and I haven’t worked out once this week. I haven’t gotten up early enough to do my morning time and not feel rushed in the morning. Those things, they take away from me. So as we think about the things that fill our cup, it might be just those things like physical exercise, mental health support, maybe it’s taking care of your space, keeping it organized. Maybe it’s eating well or having a structured financial plan. Maybe it’s giving to you in a way that serves you where you wake up in the morning, do these things and you feel full, like there’s something that’s overflowing that you can give to somebody else. If we’re really evaluating ourselves, how well are we taking care of ourselves?
If you’re anything like me, I have seasons where I’m taking great care of myself, and then I have seasons where I think I figured it all out and then I stopped taking care of myself. As we really look at what we did well in 2022 and how we are moving into 2023, I want you to really be mindful. Do you even know what fills your cup? Do you know what empties your cup?
Part of this journey is an understanding of, this is why I feel this way today, this is why I’m feeling tired. This is why I’m feeling like I can’t give anymore. This is why I feel irritated at that co-worker. But, if we don’t know why, because we’re not naming it, we struggle to treat it. It’s the same thing a doctor would say, I need a diagnosis in order to prescribe the prescription. So this image is so important for you to evaluate, because what is your diagnosis right now?
Are you living with a full cup? Are you doing all the things that you need to do to create the space to give? Or are there a lot of things in your life right now that are taking away, maybe because you intentionally are allowing them, or maybe because life has a lot of bumps in the road right now and you’re navigating them.
So let’s diagnose ourselves, so to speak, in this presentation so that we can move forward with the prescription, because sometimes it is easier than we make it seem. Perhaps I need to make that vulnerable phone call to my therapist and tell her I fell off the wagon and I need some help. Or I need to call that neighbor who I’ve been avoiding for the last three months to try to mitigate this pressure that’s between us and figure out the fence, whatever it might be. We don’t understand the heaviness of the things we carry until we start to look at them like this.
Pouring from an Empty Cup
So what happens when we pour from an empty cup? Well, many of you will think, Duh, I know this answer. But some of us need to see them named so that we can truly identify them.
Burnout or compassion fatigue is one of the largest things that comes with helping when you’re not helping yourself. I tell my interns, you cannot sit with other people’s junk until you sit with your own. If you think about that and you really think about the heaviness of that, if we’re sitting with other people’s junk and we haven’t dealt with ours, of course it’s going to get heavy. Of course we’re going to have limitations in what we can see and do. Of course it’s going to feel daunting because you can’t see the way out of your own stuff. You’re going to struggle to sit with other people.
Spinning Wheels Some of you might feel like, I keep seeing this client over and over and over again, and nothing’s changing. I don’t feel effective. Nothing seems to work. Maybe you feel like every day it’s Groundhog Day. You get up in the morning and it’s the same old, same old, same old. Perhaps you’re tired. Perhaps there’s something in your world that is drawing away the energy that you need to feel like you’re connected to your purpose.
Ineffective Truly the most important thing I want you to hear is that if you are giving from an empty cup, you are ineffective. Not only that, but you can be very damaging to the clients you serve. Some of you might have seen this with your coworkers or with the volunteers that you work with. When we’re ineffective or when we ask questions that are inappropriate, or hurtful, or out of our own pain, we can do more damage working with our clients than we can if we are centered in ourselves, full and receiving the care we need so that we can care for others.
Filling Your Cup
When we’re filling our cup, here are the categories I want you to think about as you’ve diagnosed yourself and you’re providing the prescription.
In what ways are you caring for each part of your being? Here they are:
How are you caring for your mind? Do you have a place to write down your thoughts? Do you have a place to talk about the things you think about? Do you have a place to talk about your vision and the way that you are hearing and seeing the world?
How are you taking care of your body? Do you constantly feel tired? Are you challenged by maybe a new diet that you’re trying to help reduce your cholesterol? Are you taking walks? Are you caring for yourself in the ways that your body needs you to so that you can be fully present with the clients that you’re serving?
How are you taking care of your heart, your soul? What are you doing to care for your feelings and the way that you experience the world through your heart? What are you doing to take care of those old wounds that have left holes in your heart? Are you trying to ignore them? Are you trying to work through them? Are you moving into the next layer of growth? How are you doing that?
How are you taking care of your spiritual needs? Are you part of a spiritual community? Do you believe that there’s someone higher than you? Most of us on this call believe there is a God higher than us who cares deeply for us. But how are you investing in that personal relationship?
If we aren’t filling our cup in these areas, how can we expect to help clients fill their cups like this? So, as you think about these four areas, I want you to jot one idea down in each of these areas that you could be doing better. Some of you are feeling compelled by this message, and you’re thinking Oh, this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Others are thinking, Oh, I don’t want to hear it, but I need to.
So perhaps this is an opportunity for you to create a goal or a way of moving into tomorrow, the next day, next week, next month, because the better you are, the more effective you’re going to be, the more you’re going to feel connected to the work that you’re doing. And most importantly, the better you’re going to feel about everything.
Carrying our Baggage
Something that I think shocks a lot of people is that we often carry our bags into the rooms of those that we serve.
I love this picture, and it really is the reason I wanted to provide the presentation today, because I want this to sit with you, and I want you to picture the baggage that our clients bring to the conversations they have with us.
Maybe it’s that first phone call they made. They probably were thinking about making the phone call for three weeks, and they finally get the courage to pick up the phone and call us. And when they call us, they don’t realize they’re carrying everything, but they are carrying things from way, long ago.
And it’s our voice on the other end. It’s the things that we say on the other side of that call, on the other side of that waiting room, on the other side of that visit, that allow them to begin to maybe drop some of these bags at the door, and some of their bags will stay with them unknowingly. We know our clients are carrying them, but are we identifying that we are also carrying these things?
As I envision this, I see a client walking into our office with all of her invisible bags. She’s waited three weeks to come. She finally has the courage to come in, and she’s met with one of our staff members who’s carrying the same amount of baggage as her. And maybe that person who meets her at the door knows how to put a smile on in the midst of her thing because it’s a defense mechanism she’s developed.
How does that client benefit from that staff member? When they sit down in that quiet room, I can envision them, one on a couch, one on a chair, and they both invisibly let down those bags. How are you today? One says, I’m not so good, and the other has to absorb that – but through the filter of all her bags she brought into the room.
Our goal as helpers is to find a way to work through our baggage so that we’re bringing minimal bags into that room with the client. I don’t think that we would ever not bring bags. We’re humans too, but we don’t want to be bringing all of our bags into that office. You might say, Lisa, duh. That makes sense. I know. Leave your personal life at home. That’s the same mantra that our culture has, right? But the reality is, some of us don’t even know that we’re carrying these heavy things.
Some of us don’t even realize that that child abuse wound from 25 years ago, that abortion wound from 19 years ago, that divorce wound from six years ago, the mortgage company who’s written you two letters to take your house, your child who is abusing drugs, your own obsession or temptations, those are all things that, if we’re not dealing with them, are becoming bags in our life or we’re holding on to them.
So I want you to evaluate yourself, almost envision yourself, and train your teams. What are you bringing with you when you come into these conversations? Because if you’re bringing the same amount of bags with you as your client is, we’ve got a problem. And we only know the problem when we see it and we name it.
Perhaps this is speaking to you today. Perhaps you know somebody who is struggling with this. Let’s be a friend and offer a very direct, crucial, loving conversation to them to say, Hey, how is this impacting you? And What do you need to do to take care of that?
Because I guarantee you, when you choose to take that really courageous step to address those things yourself, you’re going to have more courage with your clients. When you’re sitting across from them and you say, Hey, I’ve been where you are. When are you going to take this next step? What do you need? You’re going to have more boldness in that because you will have walked that journey a little bit ahead of them.
What’s in Your Baggage?
So here’s just some suggestions, if I haven’t named them all yet, that we might see in terms of baggage with both our clients, our volunteers, those that we’re working with ourselves, and they all have different impacts on us.
Job loss, foster care, sick parents, broken relationships. We talked about abortion and divorce. Look at this one: mold in our home. Somebody might think Oh, that’s easily addressed by a construction worker, but we don’t know what that does to somebody. We don’t know what kind of impact that might leave on somebody. Sex trafficking, addiction, substance abuse, domestic violence, codependency, self harm, sick children, other stressors. These are all things that our lives have been touched by.
We all, based on our temperament and our previous experience, deal with these things differently depending on where we are in our life. So it’s really important that we identify what’s happening and what kinds of tools we have.
A sick child when you’re 30 years old might not feel so heavy, but maybe you’re on your 6th child and you’re 47 years old and there’s a lot of other stressors in your life. A sick child at 47 might feel really different than at 30. An abortion at 19 might feel heavier for someone than at 35, or vice versa.
I think it’s important that we don’t say it just matters at this time in our life, but these things impact us over our lifetime. It’s important that we continue to evaluate.
Our baggage distracts us from the things that we’re called to do. I think of a client I worked with who had experienced abortion, had a living child later in life, and was struggling in her marriage. She ended up becoming the helicopter mom to her living child, which we see often with families who’ve experienced abortion. When her son turned twelve post-COVID and she was getting ready to send him back to school, they learned that he has a diagnosis of pretty significant Type One Diabetes. She worked with him on a regiment, and was getting really overwhelmed with it. Within a week, the school had figured it out. It was not nearly as difficult as she had thought it was. She couldn’t believe the school could get a handle on this when she was struggling most of the summer to figure it out.
She said, Lisa, I didn’t realize, but I wanted so badly for him to need me. So every time I would walk in that room, I would find everything wrong with him, everything wrong with this new disease that he has. I would look for every issue. I didn’t want to find anything bad, but I just wanted to know I was doing everything good as a mom and that he needed me. And then here he goes to school and he doesn’t need me, and the school doesn’t need me, and they’re not seeing all the things that I was seeing.
What I hope you’re hearing as I tell this story is that this was an innocent mom who wanted to do her very best. But every time she went into her son’s room to help him, she was bringing that baggage from her abortion experience. She was bringing the baggage from her past. She was bringing all that regret and all that shame with her and it was blinding her from what her son really needed. Now she can say she is so grateful that the school stepped in because if they hadn’t, she would have babied him through this experience and who knows what kind of pain or consequences would have come for her son as a result. She said her son is not even phased by this diagnosis, that he can handle it himself. He can recognize the signs and symptoms of his low blood sugar. He knows exactly what to do. And she really believes that the school helped her negotiate that.
But she would be the first one to tell you that at the beginning her bags were too heavy, they were too distracting, and they blinded her from what her son really needed in that moment.
Perhaps that story is relatable to you as you think about your clients or yourself. There are things that you can’t see right now because of the things that you’re walking through. And maybe you can’t see them, so to speak, but you can feel that there’s something off, or you feel like you’re beating your head against the wall. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to say, what else is there? What more could there be? What else is going on? What bags might I be bringing into this? What other things are causing this distraction or blinding me from what I really need to be doing here? There’s always something. Always.
Unloading Your Baggage
This is what we always encourage at Support After Abortion. It’s what I encourage as a therapist. It is absolutely important, if we are going to help people, that we fill our cup and unload our own baggage. If you are unwilling to touch that one thing from the past, maybe today is the day to say, It’s time. It’s time to take this next step because it’s super hard to meet somebody in their brokenness if we haven’t dealt with our own things.
We’re going to be so much more effective when we choose to take that deep dive into our healing. I have not met one person who has taken that deep dive in their healing and hasn’t been so grateful they did and says, I keep meeting people just like me, and I’m helping them. I’m able to tell them my story, and I’m able to give back in ways I couldn’t before.
Discussion and Q&A
I’m going to stop here. And like I said, I’m really hopeful that we could have a conversation about this. I’m really hopeful that maybe we can bring some faces to the table that could really bring our humanity as we look at 2023, really looking for some vulnerability in this conversation.
Maybe you’re recently walking through this. Maybe it’s sparked something in you today, or maybe you’ve walked through this in different parts of your life. I’d love for us to be able to share some of the experiences, maybe what we’ve learned as a result in today’s meeting. Then I’ll open it up for questions after we’ve had some time to share. There’s opportunity to discuss in the chat – there’s a lot of chat going on right now. I’d also like to stay on the heart connection for a moment and bring people to the screen. I’d love to hear from those who would like to share about how you’ve maybe poured from an empty cup and what you learned about that process.
Althea 30:41 – Importance of devotions and supporting colleagues
I’ll share, so I’m not really pouring from an empty cup right now. One of the things that we do here is we have devotions, and we talk about specific topics. Like today, our topic was on love and working together with our coworkers and everything. What’s good about our clinic is that we are able to come to each other when we are overwhelmed with something, either individually or collectively. We’re able to come together and just hash it out and talk it out. I end up sometimes being the person that leaves the door open because I’m the counselor here. I not only counsel the women that come in here as far as the clients, but also some of my coworkers. We’re a pretty close, tight-knit group. We call ourselves sisters. One, because we spend a lot of time together, and two, because it’s important for us to watch over each other and be there for each other, so that when we feel those days of being overwhelmed, we have a safe space to be able to talk and everything.
Lisa Rowe 32:04
Thank you so much. So there’s one of the things that you might consider in your workplace: to offer an open environment like we’re hearing, where there is a safety to bring these kinds of things so that you can have a place, a community that is helping you. I appreciate that. Thank you for that. Um, Georgia, you can go next. Georgia Barker.
Georgia 32:30 Emptiness Leads to Ineffectiveness
Thank you so much. I volunteered as a Patient Care Advocate at a pregnancy resource center here locally, and I also facilitated the abortion recovery class for the center. I’m just now branching out on my own. I remember one of the things that I noticed was that emptiness does lead to ineffectiveness. We prayed up every time before we started meeting with a client, but at the same time, if whatever you’re pouring out, if it’s not heartfelt, if it’s not genuine, if you’re just going through the motions, then you leave that room not feeling effective. You leave that room feeling as though you haven’t impacted this woman who needed to be impacted. So I found that it’s forcing me to put on paper what I need to focus on and what I need to intentionally work on to make sure that my cup is full so that I can be effective.
Lisa Rowe 33:55
Thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate it. And what I heard you say is that you might have been effective in that room, but your own security could steal that from you. So if you’re not filling your cup, you don’t walk with a lot of security, which makes you spend a lot of brain space on something that might not even be real. Thank you for sharing that. I think we all can hear the noise in our head at times and the inability to turn it off. Thank you for that.
Kathy 34:47 Caregiver & Therapist – Addressing My Own Baggage
I’m caring for an ailing parent, and that really spoke to me. I find it to be so ironic caring for the one that cared for me and then me being able to care for others in that process. So I really appreciate the opportunity to recognize what my baggage is right now and take that time I need to process my baggage and that it actually will make me a much more effective therapist and helper in the world. But it is very hard. And compartmentalizing those thoughts and all of the duties that go with that has been difficult, and I’m working through it. But that’s a hard piece of baggage to let go of. I think it’s more like putting it on a shelf that I get back to. So I appreciate you showing me and helping me recognize where my role is as a therapist for other people in addressing my own baggage.
Lisa Rowe 36:04
Awesome. Thank you, Kathy, for your vulnerability. I think many people on this call can relate to that, and perhaps they’ve been trying to do the very same thing, put it on a shelf. And it just doesn’t work like that. I appreciate that.
Nancy 36:28 Team Support & Studies Help to Rid Baggage, Heal, Minister to Clients
I’m recovering from hip replacement surgery, and my role at Caronet is changing. I was a Center Director and also a New Day Director, which is help after abortion and other pregnancy losses. We have a pregnancy loss support side of that. So this was just really good to kind of help me put in perspective because there’s a lot now. There’s the surgery, recovering, changing roles, working from home, all these things that can empty my cup really quickly. But I’m really grateful that God has given this team of women (we have about ten of us on the New Day team). I oversee the team. We are each other’s support group. I think it’s so important when you are ministering to clients all the time, and we all have our own losses. So just to be able to have that support group where you can bring those things that we’re struggling with to this group of people who can understand and help us with that. We do studies that help our team members to get rid of some more of the baggage. We’re doing the Path of Sexual Healing right now with Linda Cochrane. We’re just starting up that study, and several of us have been through it together as a team. So just things that will continually help you to get rid of your own baggage and to continue those layers of healing and that support from a group, I think is so important to be able to minister well to our clients.
Lisa Rowe 38:31
Absolutely. Well-articulated. And I think about your experience, Nancy. You probably did a lot of preparation for your hip surgery, but the real life aftermath looks probably a lot different than what you prepared for. So to provide space for that and naming that today, I think is really helpful for all of us to hear. Thank you for that.
Jeannie 7 39:04 Slowing Down and Taking Time for Self Care
Hi, everybody. I’m happy to be a part of this today. I was able to listen, and I think I’ve lived most of my life with an empty cup trying to give out. I’m just recognizing that at this moment – being a codependent and always feeling like you don’t take time for yourself because you have to do, do, do, do. I think that stopping and acknowledging the fact that it’s okay for you to take that time and recognize what it is that you need. That’s huge because it’s always been I’m okay, I’m fine. I’m used to this rhythm. It’s almost like you’ve got to be in desperation to where you almost get physically sick because you don’t recognize it. What do you mean I have to slow down? What do you mean I have to get myself okay. I need to be there for ____. For me, the adult daughter of four kids, with my mom, I was one who just had to do. So doing recovery and working for the last 15 years with pregnancy centers, I’ve learned I have to definitely take the time to just slow down and get my own healing. Also I have to allow myself to be accountable to others, being transparent, knowing that I need for you to tell me. You know what, Jeannie? You don’t look good today. It’s layers, after layers, after layers. When you’ve been doing this kind of work, it’s okay for me to slow down and get healed and take the time out. The world is not going to stop because I slow down. So I know I’ve said a lot, but I’m very grateful for this community and hope to continue to be a part of it for a long time. Thank you, Lisa.
Lisa Rowe 41:30
Thank you. That was very powerful. I think Jeannie said it best that healing comes in layers. It’s not a one-and-done. It’s a journey. So we never arrive. I think that’s a big gift. Thank you for sharing that.
Greg Mayo 8 41:48 Awareness, Serving in the Moment, and Refilling Your Cup
>Hello, everybody. It’s a funny thing, this work we’re all involved in. It’s draining. It takes a lot out of you. Then on top of all that, we have life. Right? Sitting here listening to this presentation today, what really hit me as my biggest example, was in February or April of 2020, my father had a stroke. And caring for him for the next two years almost was like playing life on defense. I wasn’t prepared for it. I was doing this work and then dealing with that, and it was constant reaction. Right? He was fine and then one day he wasn’t. Dad passed in February, and now my mom has cancer.
Yesterday, I took her to her first chemo appointment. Now, this is where I talk about being available to the moment. Right? And, Lisa, you talked about awareness. Driving over to pick Mom up, I acknowledged and got in touch with what I was feeling. I was sad. I was scared. I was a little angry. Right? Acknowledging that and being honest with myself about that, by the time I arrived at Mom’s house, I was able to process what she needed for me today. She needed someone in good spirits to keep her spirits up, somebody that was taking copious notes with the doctors and the nurses. So I did all those things for her. After getting her home, getting her fed, and leaving, then I allowed myself to feel the emotion I was a feeling. And then this is, I think, a very important piece of this: I allowed myself to give myself what I needed, which for me is taking a walk by water. In Indianapolis, we have great canals and a river. And so I spent an hour and a half just walking around downtown, breathing, talking to God, allowing myself to just be still for a minute. That made a difference. That was kind of the whole package of the day – preparing for it, setting my junk aside for a minute, not ignoring it or denying it, but just setting it aside for a minute so I could be present for my mom and give her what she needed. And then I allowed myself to cry and walk and breathe and talk, if all that makes sense.
Lisa Rowe 44:01
Absolutely. And I think this is spoken from somebody who’s further along in their healing journey. What Greg was able to do is identify on the way there, create that awareness. When he got there, he was able to stay present, but he knew afterwards that he needed to fill that cup back up. Too many of us have taken two years, 20 years, before we acknowledge that we need to fill that cut back up. Greg, what a great model, because that’s practical. Our days are filled with things that we can expect and things we can’t. But to know in that moment, you needed space for yourself, that’s powerful. And I’m so grateful you would share that.
Greg Mayo 44:39
Can I just say one more thing really quickly? Another big thing about that was my wife supported me in that. When I walked out my mom’s door, I texted her and I said, Leaving Mom’s, I need to go downtown for a little bit. And she said, Love you, see you soon. And that was huge, too, having that acknowledgment and that support from her.
Lisa Rowe 44:59
Wow. Yeah, that’s awesome. Because that might not be the same story with somebody else. That could have been a codependent response, and they would have gone home, perhaps, but we need to stay committed to take care of ourselves. So I appreciate that perspective, Greg, thank you.
Lisa C. 45:22 Repositioning Myself – I Can’t Give What I Don’t Have
Good afternoon, everyone or morning to those of you who may be Central Time or maybe further out west. I do want to say thank you, Lisa, for sharing this today. It is very timely at the beginning of a new year. One of the things that guy was just pressing upon me is that I have to reposition myself. And that is a constant work. Every day is repositioning myself. Because how can I anticipate God doing what he does if I don’t take a step forward? So one of the things that I recognize, and I help clients do, is I always tell clients even myself, nothing changes until it changes. Which means nothing is going to change until we begin to start changing the things that need to change. I have to preach that to myself every day – that I do have to take care of myself because I can’t give what I don’t have. And oftentimes I don’t have it. It’s like if you go out to your car and you have no gas, well, where are you going? I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to stay stagnated. So we have to continue to do it. One of the things that I put in the chat box, is a caption I saw that said, self care is not selfish. I think oftentimes people will come back at me, But doesn’t the Bible say that we have to esteem others more than ourselves? And I say, <i”>Well, Jesus took a time out. Who are we? We’re not the master, we’re not the teacher, we’re not the great. I am right? We’re not that. So why do we anticipate that we have to show up and be present for people all the time? One of the things that I recognize for myself is that I let it go. There are things I can control and there are things that I can’t. And when I know the difference, then I give up the things that I can’t control. So I just love that you’re bringing this to the forefront, Lisa, because again, it’s a great way to start off the new year, recognizing that we don’t have control over everything. But what we have control over, we control those things. So thank you so much for sharing.
Lisa Rowe 47:32
Reposition – and I say this a lot when I think of codependency and when you’re talking about control – it comes to mind: If we can start to see the world as Hula Hoops, our own Hula Hoop, and everybody else has their own Hula Hoop. And we decide today that we are going to stay in our own Hula Hoop and control what is in our Hula Hoop. And we give people back their Hula Hoops and let them take care of what they need to take care of. We would be so much more free.
Lisa C. 48:01
Well, we would. And I also think we are people pleasers. And we want everybody else to feel okay and feel good because we know what it feels like on the other side. But at the end of the day, it’s not going to change. We all make choices, just like God gave us a choice. Either you will or you won’t. You’re going to serve me or you’re not. And so everybody has choices, so people have to decide what they’re going to do for themselves. And so I’ve made a decision, whether it’s family, children, friends, colleagues, whoever it is, I’ve made a conscious decision that I have to do me first. And if you think I’m being selfish, so be it.
Lisa Rowe 48:41
Jess 48:53 Self Care Questions to Ask, Setting Goals, Being Open to Counseling
This is so wonderful. I just absolutely love seeing so many people and we’re all kind of doing the same work. That’s just wonderful. I’ve been involved in post-abortion ministry for twelve years… I’m currently in ministry full-time and doing post-abortion ministry. I work for a pretty amazing person who has made it really important for us to focus on self care. He didn’t care what it was, he just wanted to know, What does it look like? What does your time with Jesus look like? How are you caring for your bodies? How are you taking care of yourselves? So I just wanted to share that.
I’m someone who wants to do things perfectly, and I want things to be done quickly. But I’ve learned that that’s not really how it works. So I started at the beginning of 2022 deciding that I was going to get up earlier than I wanted and spend time with the Lord. I actually enjoy exercising, so that wasn’t hard to commit to, but I did that and kind of had this set regimen. It’s just been so interesting walking into this year 2023 after committing to that for a whole year, which can be what’s been really hard for me. Now I’ll say I’m in a season where I don’t have small children anymore. So anyone hearing me saying, I wish I could do that with small children – I could not do that with small children. I swear I’d have a plan, and then I’d wake up and two of the three would be sick or my whole day would be off the rail. So I am in a season where my mornings are way more predictable… I opened the Word of God, prayed, journalled, wrote things down. It really has paid off over the year.
It’s been a slow process, but I’m walking into 2023 for once feeling like my cup is full. I have good practices in place.
I’m just starting a Bible study group for single moms at my church because I feel that’s a part of my ministry. Right? They did what we’ve asked them to do, so now I need to support them. We’re committed to this really deep dive Bible study for the next six months and I’m just so excited to do that on top of still leading groups. I feel like I always get something out of those groups, every time I’m healed more even though I’ve been doing it for twelve years. I can’t believe it. God is just so good.
Lisa Rowe 53:22
You’re so awesome. Jess. I think all of us would say we want some of that energy. Good job filling your cup. What a beautiful gift. Thank you.
All right, so Kylee’s going to pop back on. There was a question. This chat is just blowing up today. I’m so grateful. Thank you for those who chose to share. It’s always helpful to see another face on the side of the screen that says, I’m not alone in this journey. So I do hope that those vulnerable conversations we just had will bless you. Thank you for those that did share.
Kylee Heap 54:01
So we’re really excited because we have people in this Zoom Live right now. We also have a whole group of people watching on Facebook. On Facebook, a conversation was happening from this question: My organization’s management didn’t allow for self care to be part of our work environment. How do we catch up while still maintaining our workload?
Lisa Rowe <54:22 Choices When Facing an Unhealthy Work Culture
That’s a great question. Work culture is super important. If we’re going to talk about Hula Hoops like we did before, there are certain things you can control and certain things you can’t control. If you have a corporate culture that does not support self care and isn’t open to hearing about it, you have a couple of choices. And these are things that land in your Hula Hoop. You have a choice to choose to accept the culture and choose to take care of yourself in ways outside of that culture. You have a choice to leave, or you have a choice to feel stuck in it. It really depends on the circumstances. But I would say to anybody that’s a leader here, corporate culture, work culture is huge, and it’s all about retention when you have a healthy culture, it’s all about performance when you have a healthy culture. And if those things aren’t in existence, I’d like you to get aware of it and how are you going to protect yourself in that environment.
Kylee Heap 55:22
That’s great, Lisa. I love that we have job opportunities being posted in our chat right now. So please look into that if you’re looking for a job. What a perfect segue to Lisa’s comments. Next question is What is Shared Baggage Syndrome, and how do I address it within my life? The way the question was conveyed is that it is difficult to hear about how other people are hurting, and it becomes part of this person’s baggage that they carry.
Lisa Rowe </span56:14 Helping with Burdens v. Taking On Others’ Responsibilities
<Okay, so that goes back to the very beginning of our conversation. What is your purpose? Why do you serve? Is there a personal element to it? Have you walked through your own healing journey? Are you walking through your healing journey? we cannot fix another person. We can walk alongside of their journey. We can help them if they want help. But it is not our job to carry things that they’re unwilling to carry. And so oftentimes, one of the biggest things that I ask people who are struggling with this is, What is your motivation when you go to help somebody? Are you doing it because you don’t want them to hurt? Are you doing it because you can see yourself in their pain? Are you doing it because you feel guilt and shame because you might have had something to do with their story? All of those things are impure motives.
We are not God. We can’t solve people’s problems. We were gifted with things to help us help other people, but it’s their job to carry their responsibilities. I heard a sermon one time where this was said so much better than I just said.In the Bible, God says, help carry other people’s burdens. And this gentleman who was sharing in the sermon said that it’s like when I needed help carrying my grand piano to the basement, I needed to call my four friends to carry it down the stairs. That’s a burden. I could not do that by myself. It was a one time event, a one-part season. Right? But when I went to mow my lawn the next day, that’s a regular, everyday, or every week occurrence. That is not their burden to carry. If I would have called those four men to come help me mow the lawn the next day, that is not their responsibility. We can sometimes enable people – for example, if those four men would have come back to mow the lawn, right? Someone who will come every single time you call – then that person doesn’t own their own life and their own experiences. So perhaps that might help you understand that we are called to help carry burdens, but everyday experiences are not burdens.
Kylee Heap 58:25
Two last questions, three minutes. Lisa.
What are three tips for identifying empty cups across my team?
Lisa Rowe 58:31 Signs of Pouring from an Empty Cup
I’m going to name more than three things:
Tired. That would be my first thing.
Tardiness to work
Complaints from clients about them.
Distractibility that you haven’t seen before.
Late getting their work done.
Inconsistencies that you haven’t seen in the past.
Changes in behavior all the way around.
Kylee Heap 59:06
We also have some chat comments [to add to the list] melancholy and dread to go to work. Last question is, Can you share who is invited to the clinical provider webinars and how they differ from this webinar that we’re in right now?
Lisa Rowe 59:22 Monthly Clinical Webinars
That’s great. We offer clinical webinars. In fact, we had one yesterday. They are a very similar platform, except my co-leader Greg Hasek, who’s also a licensed mental health counselor, shares the time with me. We invite a topic. Yesterday was on the impact of abortion and marriage. We shared a story from a man and a woman who experienced abortion and then chose to get married and how it’s impacted them. And then we dissect it from a clinical perspective, how we might help in the therapeutic environment.
We don’t talk about this a lot in our therapeutic world, reproductive loss, but specifically abortion. Next month, we’re going to talk about parenting amidst abortion. So parents who have living children and have a previous abortion or choose abortion in the midst of parenting living children, what are the impacts and what are the implications and what can we do as clinicians to serve them well and help support those clients?
I want to thank you so much for coming, being so brave and sharing and talking. I really hope that this was one deposit into your cup today.
We have moved all of our Abortion Healing Provider meetings to 12:00 noon ET on the third Wednesday of each month. I believe they’re going to share the registration link in the chat for you. So we will see you next month and continue to build this community so that you don’t feel, like Jeff said, that you’re alone. There are more people doing what you do than you realize. And this is a space for you to connect and grow and nourish your healing ministries. Thanks for joining me today, and I look forward to our next meeting!
Media Contact: Dustin Siggins email@example.com
“It’s time to make safe spaces for after-abortion healing,” said CEO Lisa Rowe
NORTH PORT, FLORIDA—As the first post-Dobbs legislative sessions begin, Support After Abortion is urging lawmakers to recognize the reality of after-abortion suffering.
“The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision changed America’s abortion debate. As most attention pivots to the states, this is an opportunity for everyone to expand how they think about abortion,” said Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe. “Pro-life advocates have long believed in after-abortion suffering – but their religious-based approach alienates millions of people. And supporters of legalized abortion often fail to acknowledge that many women aren’t shouting their abortion – but instead are hiding their suffering.”
Founded in 2020, Support After Abortion is the nation’s first organization to provide gold-standard research and support for women and men after abortion. Unaffiliated with the pro-life movement and the abortion industry, but partnering with both, Support After Abortion’s groundbreaking national surveys show that:
34% of women who experience medication abortions suffer adverse impacts.
Only 16% of women who experience medication abortions want religious support.
71%of men suffer adverse effects like depression, addiction, and anger.
Just 18% of women and men know that after-abortion support exists.
“Each year, America spends billions of dollars on mental health research, prevention, and recovery,” said Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with families facing abuse, addiction, and other challenges. “Our research shows that millions of women and men suffer from after-abortion healing, but they don’t get the resources they need because the politics of abortion hide the humans behind abortion.”
Support After Abortion’s mission is to elevate abortion healing in the eyes of all Americans. Its work includes:
Nationally representative surveys to capture how many women and men suffer after abortion – and what can help them heal.
Workshops and webinars which have helped therapists, pregnancy resource centers, and social workers understand how to address after-abortion suffering.
About Support After Abortion
Support After Abortion is an abortion healing organization which promotes compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create gold-standard care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts.
Guest: Karin Barbito, Special Projects Manager, Support After Abortion
In the December 15, 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar, Lisa Rowe, Support After Abortion CEO and Karin Barbito, Support After Abortion Special Projects Manager spoke about the Abortion Healing Process and How to Remain Curious.
November Webinar Recap: Abortion Healing Referral Directory
Karin started with a recap of the November webinar where we launched our Abortion Healing Referral Directory. This directory helps men and women who are suffering after abortion find providers and the healing options they want and enables providers to network and offer and receive referrals to connect clients to their best healing options. The video and a detailed transcription with screenshots of that webinar are available here.
Healing isn’t One-and-Done
Lisa began by speaking about how healing is a process – not just abortion healing, but any emotional healing – and that clients will have different needs at different stages of their healing process. Lisa said, “The reality is that healing doesn’t happen in a one-and-done. It doesn’t have a destination; it has a journey.”
Support After Abortion often uses the analogy of peeling an onion when speaking of abortion healing – that healing happens in layers. Lisa shared, “so often we have clients who come to us [whose] abortion wound is so big that they can’t understand that there are other parts of it. That unlayering – that awareness – continues to grow deeper and deeper and deeper.“
“So, we’d be remiss for our clients’ sake,” Lisa continued, “if we didn’t understand that one healing opportunity is going to unveil another healing opportunity and another. To help support that client on that journey is really important.”
Lisa said, “We’ve been asked time and again, What is the process? How can I better serve my clients? They’re coming back and they’re saying they’re still hurting, their marriage is broken, they’re having trouble parenting. What’s next?”
She continued, “As we listen to your questions, and as we continue to grow and help provide resources for the abortion healing movement, we felt like talking about the healing process as it pertains to abortion healing would be a great place for us to end [the year] so that we can get curious as we enter into our healing groups for 2023.”
The Abortion Healing Process
Lisa voiced gratefulness for participants attending these webinars and encouraged them to be open to new ideas and new ways of approaching abortion healing programming. Recognizing that “most of us have had a one-way approach,” she spoke to the importance of expanding our options for clients saying, “We know that there are so many people that are not being served because we only have that one-way approach. So we hope that something touches your heart and mind today that might be able to help inspire you to continue to grow your healing ministry.”
How Healing Happens
Karin then delved into the heart of the topic using a chart to guide the discussion of how healing happens. She shared, “What we’ve learned along the way is that healing is not linear. The different stages of healing take different amounts of time, and they change over life circumstances.”
She shared a personal example of how she’s not the same person she was when she had an abortion at age 18. She said, “What I’m going through now is much different than it was back then. At my age, I’m grieving in a new way. I’m grieving that I don’t have living children or grandchildren, potentially even great-grandchildren to spend the last part of my life with. And so grieving – I don’t know that it ever ends. But I know that healing never ends.”
Karin continued, “When you get to a place of healing and wholeness, you can be sad and joyful at the same time, right? I never experienced that before I went through abortion healing. I’m sad that my daughter is not with me, but I so look forward to, and I’m joyful for, the day when I’m reunited with her. It’s really hard to explain the transformation until you actually go through it.”
Karin then explained the three stages of healing:
Awareness, Acceptance, and Change.
Healing Stage 1: Awareness
We’re either triggered or have to acknowledge that we suffered a trauma and that we’re not the same person today as we were before that trauma happened.
We’re triggered in some way.
We share that experience with someone, whether it’s a friend or reaching out to the AFTER ABORTION LINE at Support After Abortion.
We identify how we feel. How are you really doing? How has this abortion impacted you?
Lisa added, “We all, at some level, enter into denial about our circumstances. We have to normalize them to get through them. It’s how resiliency is born. Oftentimes, if you’re raised by a substance-addicted parent, you somehow have to become okay in order to survive in that environment with their substance abuse, whatever that might be – whether you minimize it, whether you clean up after it, whatever it is. And so sometimes our awareness of what is actual is very distorted.”
“What we find with our clients is that awareness is a huge part of the process.” she continued, “So many of our clients say, I had no idea that this was causing this or that this was part of this experience. So by allowing people to explore what their connections are, and what they’ve normalized, is a huge part of the process.”
“With Awareness,” Lisa said, “it’s painful to bring that darkness up and actually acknowledge that things in your life weren’t the way that you needed them to be? It can be really hard.”
Karin shared that she didn’t become aware of how her abortion impacted her until years later. She said, “I found out I was pregnant on a Wednesday, had my abortion on Friday, was back in class on Monday, and really didn’t think about it until I got married and wanted to have children and I couldn’t. That’s when my awareness [kicked in]…because I had to really digest and understand the ramifications of my decision so many years previous. And it was very painful. Very painful.”
“It’s been my experience,” Lisa shared, “as we work with individuals who have experienced abortion that abortion is one of just a very few human conditions that awareness is really difficult to get to because our culture creates a lot of chaos around this conversation.” She discussed how abortion is trapped in political conversation and therefore isn’t addressed in the same ways as other traumas such as suicide, divorce, or poverty.
She explained that the cultural messages “have distorted their awareness about how they truly feel about their experience, so it’s often very foggy for clients to enter into that place. So, to give them that space to explore is so important, especially as it pertains to abortion.”
Karin spoke about the importance of including men in the abortion conversation. “Men have been really misunderstood,” she said, “Before our consumer research, we believed that men were the biggest influence in the abortion decision. What we found was the exact opposite. Men are also really struggling after abortion.”
She spoke about how the culture sidelines men, “Think about what society is saying to them, You have no say. It’s not your body, it’s not your choice. It’s really important for us to bring men into the conversation, because for every woman that’s had an abortion, there was a man involved in that pregnancy.”
Lisa added, “Awareness is even harder for men to reach. Because what we’ve heard from men is If I find myself hurting afterwards, and I can’t find a resource, which is very unlikely to find, I then feel like my grief is invalid because nobody’s providing services to me, so I must be wrong. So there again, the culture is fogging the real connection to ourselves and our feelings, and therefore the awareness then is skewed. We have a lot of work to do in that area.”
Healing Stage 2: Acceptance
We acknowledge the pain.
We reach out for help (some people do so in the awareness phase)
We commit to healing.
Karin explained the acceptance phase as “us saying, Okay, I know that I’m going to have to go through some really intense, potentially emotional pain, but I accept that there’s no way that I can go back and change what’s already happened, that I need to move through the grief process. I need to sort through my emotions, and I need to find closure.”
“Going into acceptance is sometimes really difficult,” Lisa shared, “I see this a lot [in my clinical practice] with victims of sexual abuse and trafficking, who say something like, Oh, my gosh, I am a victim of this. I had to put on the hat that I chose this lifestyle to survive it, and now I’m calling myself a victim. I’m not so sure I feel like I’m strong anymore. I’m not so sure that I feel okay with myself.”
Healing Stage 3:Change
Memorial Service – bringing dignity to the child’s life. It can be celebrated in many different ways. Karin described it as “where that connection from our intellectual knowledge that we’ve suffered trauma to our heartfelt place of finding closure.” For more details on Memorializing Children Lost to Abortion watch the video or read the recap of the October 2022 Webinar.
We continue healing. Karin reiterated that healing is not a one-and-done, “Healing is an ongoing process. There are always layers of the onion to peel back.”
We share our healing with others. “Hopefully we get to a place where there’s been such a huge transformation that we want to share our healing with others,” Karin said, “because we don’t want them to suffer unnecessarily like we did.”
Applying the Healing Process
Lisa encouraged providers to “consider applying this to every other area of your life, of your client’s life. Each one of these phases is different for everyone, but we have to go through each one.”
Lisa asked participants to consider, “However you’re leading your healing ministry or practices, are you leaving enough room for these different stages to take place?” She asked them to consider their expectation for the timing of the stages – are they “asking for each one of these stages to take place on your own time, or are you individualizing the way you care for your clients?” She spoke about how different clients may need more or less time in their healing journeys, “Sometimes it’s six months, and then six weeks, and then six years. Everybody has their own experience.”
The Healing Process in Not Linear
Karin emphasized that healing is not linear. She showed a graphic which looks at the top as if the process were linear: triggers, awareness, seek help, deeper healing, acceptance. She said, “Itlooks like it’s linear, but it’s really not. The graphic on the bottom shows how you can go back and forth.
Karin asked Lisa to address some of the reasons “why a person could be triggered and get to a place of awareness and then later on, maybe even get to seek help and then go back to triggered again and start that process all over again?”
Lisa explained, “So many of our stories are very unique, but we all have similar themes, and oftentimes things are buried under each other.” She shared a story about a women who had an abortion at 19 years old and didn’t understand its emotional impact on her. After the abortion, she started using drugs again. Then two years later, she faced another unexpected pregnancy, and chose to give birth. It wasn’t until that baby was born and the woman found herself unable to hold her child after birth that she become aware of the effect of her previous abortion. “That story always touches me,” Lisa said, “because it wasn’t until she had a living child that she truly understood, because abortion was so normalized in her world.”
Lisa shared further details of the woman’s story and her healing journey, “She started unpacking that. She had two other children and started connecting more dots to her story – her sexual abuse, her parents’ separation, living in poverty, all sorts of things that she hadn’t dealt with were messy and connected to all these experiences…As she unlayered through her abortion healing experience, she actually realized that the sexual abuse was part of the reason she was so vulnerable to risky sexual behavior, which landed her in unexpected pregnancies.”
“And that is a common story,” Lisa said, “But there are so many other things, like so many people have father wounds…And that opens a whole other conversation.”
Lisa shared a little about her own healing journey that included the realization that due to – and perpetuating – family patterns, she had impacted, and was impacted by, her sister’s reproductive loss.
Lisa described how she “didn’t realize the significance of my ambivalence and maybe the level that my sister looked to me when she called me unexpectedly pregnant. I was in my own trauma…I didn’t even know I needed healing at the time. When she called me, kind of excited, I was absolutely mortified and concerned for her because of the state of my life, her life, and everything involved.”
“I now can look back, because of my healing experience, and understand that there was a lot there,” Lisa continued, “I had been parentified as a child of dysfunction. And she was looking to me as a parent to affirm her experience. And I couldn’t do that for her emotionally. I didn’t believe in myself, so there’s no way I could believe in her.”
Lisa said, “And these are how family patterns exist.” She said that only through her own healing experience, “I was able to acknowledge the pain that she could be feeling as a result of what I did. And for me to be able to experience that, to grieve that, and then really, truly connect to it was something I didn’t know I needed. I’m very grateful for that experience. And I continue to pray that the way that I continue to heal will impact her life.”
Lisa added, “I think it’s important when we heal out loud sometimes.” She said that “more and more people shared their story with me” as through her healing journey she unlayered her own “loss, reproductive loss, and the experiences of those in my life that either I contributed to or I was ambivalent to. As I became curious about my journey, I felt like I was reflecting out to people their own interest and curiosity.”
The Need for Options-Based Abortion Healing
Lisa encouraged participants to think about the programs they offer in terms of the healing process and that analogy of peeling back the layers of an onion. She spoke about the importance of helping clients at the various stages of healing.
“One of the things that I really appreciated coming into this [abortion healing] space as a pregnancy center Executive Director and as a clinician…is the uniqueness of abortion healing, as it compared to other things that I was watching people heal from,” she said.
She and Karin described the common approach to abortion healing: religiously-based, small groups, usually in-person, guided by a facilitator, peer-led, often meeting for a weekend retreat or a weeks-long study. They encouraged providers to see this common approach as one component that can resonate with some clients but not others and to consider expanding their capacity to reach clients who desire other options.
Lisa said, “We always want to lead with saying there’s nothing wrong with any of these programs, except they didn’t offer an opportunity for other people who are outside of that scope to experience the healing they’re interested in.Therefore, we were leaving a significant group of people without healing opportunities.
Karin said, “It’s so important for us to meet people where they are.” She spoke a little about Support After Abortion’s research on the impact of abortion on women and men. In particular, she shared the finding that only 16% of women and 40% of men desire a religious abortion healing program, yet 95% of abortion healing programs are religious.
She encouraged providers, “It’s really all about being open to trying new things, making it convenient for the clients to engage in healing with us, creating a safe place by honoring their requests and respecting them.”
Karin and Lisa spoke about the critical need to help clients start their healing journeys – in whatever way they are open to – including without religion. Addressing the desire of abortion healing providers to share a religious message, Karin spurred providers to trust God saying, “God shows up whether we talk about Him or not. Transformation happens.”
Karin shared the background of the early days of the ministry that grew into Support After Abortion and her task then to identify available abortion healing programming. “I traveled around and started going to conferences and started listening to what the consumer really wanted,” she said. “One of the very first conferences I went to was the Pro-Life Women’s Conference. Back then, it was very eclectic. They had secular pro-life organizations there like Atheists for Life. Women come up to me and said, I’ve had an abortion, and I’m really struggling afterwards, but I don’t believe in God. What do you have for me? And at the time, I had to say, We don’t have anything for you. So we started to research that.” The need to fill that gap is what led Support After Abortion to develop our secular Keys to Hope and Healing program to offer providers an option to meet the healing needs of the majority of people.
Lisa discussed that often clients present with other issues, that their abortion experiences are not top-of-mind to them, but rather are underneath other issues.
“The reality is,” Lisa said, “what we’re learning mostly from men and women is that people aren’t screaming, I need healing from my abortion experience. They’re mostly saying, I’m having relationship difficulties, I feel depressed. I’m having trouble connecting with my living children. I can’t seem to maintain a peaceful existence. Everything is a burden to me. Oftentimes they come to us, and it’s not about the abortion initially. It’s underneath all of it, but they’re not aware of it yet. And so we learned early on, that it was important to offer some peripheral opportunities for healing.
Karin added, “People come to us with relationship issues. People come to us feeling deceived. They’ve had a medication abortion, and they’re really angry because they feel like they weren’t told what the process was really going to be like.”
“So we have the opportunity to listen to them and really evaluate whether or not abortion healing is the first place where they should start,” she said. “We have the opportunity through conversation with the people who come to us, to find out what really is the most urgent thing.
As an example, Karin said, “Many people learn to cope with their abortion by using substances.” She explained that an abortion healing support group would not be appropriate for clients who are actively misusing alcohol or currently have a substance addiction. Likewise, if someone is homeless, getting them housing is the pressing problem. She said, “Sometimes we have to work through those presenting problems before we can get to that abortion wound, just to get them stable and able to engage.”
Lisa spoke to the importance of peripheral healing opportunities – working with social service organizations to help them understand their intersection with abortion wounds. “I feel like it is our task. Each one of us has the ability to enter into conversations with those in our community,” Lisa said.
“If they are serving homeless needs, if they’re serving in a food kitchen, if they’re serving in maybe a parenting program or a domestic violence shelter…it’s important that they know there should be a question on their intake form to evaluate for abortion – not because they’re going to offer the abortion healing services, but perhaps after that first presenting problem is mitigated, they would then know that there are other places for them to go [for abortion healing], and that social service organization could refer them to you. So we really encourage you to go to those network meetings and encourage them to ask these questions. Some of you are struggling to fill your groups, and that’s one of the best ways – networking in your community with other individuals that are there to help people.”
Karin agreed, “There are so many organizations out there that come across wounded people, and many of those wounded people could be suffering after an abortion and not even realize it. And unless we ask the question, then we have no idea.”
I think we recognized a while ago,” Karin said, “that the conversation we were having with [abortion-minded clients] in our pregnancy center didn’t go far enough.” She encourage providers to take advantage of trainings such as those offered by BrightCourse, Care Net, and Heartbeat on “how to have that conversation with the abortion-minded client, to really get to the root causes of why they feel like that’s the best decision for them, because an abortion is a symptom of a much deeper problem.”
Healing Programs Beyond Abortion Healing
“We can’t stop with an abortion healing group. We have to have resources that either we refer to or we connect to for clients to continue their healing journeys,” Lisa said. “We need to know that this healing journey exists and that it doesn’t end when they go through that weekend retreat, or that twelve-week study, or one day opportunity for healing, or that women’s encounter at your church, or the men’s encounter … wherever they’re finding that relief initially. That’s the first step. That’s not the final step.”
As examples of further healing steps, Lisa and Karin discussed support groups beyond our Keys to Hope and Healing introductory abortion healing program that have been offered previously by Support After Abortion such as Unraveled Roots, Sexual Trauma, Miscarriage Loss, and Codependency.
Karin spoke to the value of offering Unraveled Roots, a resource that she, Lisa, and Melinda Means wrote that explores the root causes of unhealthy behavior. “If you haven’t done it as a staff and as a volunteer, I really encourage you to do it. I’ll tell you, my life changed through writing that book. I wasn’t even in touch with my own roots and what happened in my life as a young child that made me believe lies about myself that drove really unhealthy behavior and resulted in my own pregnancy and abortion,” she shared.
Lisa said, “I think our culture has it wrong in a lot of ways [with the idea] that once we have that initial relief, we’re healed or we’re done with this part of the journey. And that’s unrealistic. It’s not true. That’s just the opening of a lot more. So we’re actually doing a disservice to our clients if we don’t have follow up care.“
Lisa encouraged providers to consider how to expand their current offerings. For example, she encouraged providers who offer a one day or retreat program to have subsequent opportunities where they meet weekly for a series of months. For providers who offer a 12-week Bible study abortion healing program, she suggested they consider offering a shorter, more basic program for clients who are in a different place and perhaps don’t want to commit to three months initially. “So we’re asking you, as you develop your plan for 2023, to get curious about what you might be able to add as you consider parts of the healing journey rather than a one-and-done healing destination,” Lisa said.
“We talk so often,” Karin said, “about checking our judgments and our stereotypes and leading with compassion. When we can do that successfully – check our judgment, lead with compassion, and not make assumptions, then we open the door to being curious in a way that’s non-offensive and really helps that client realize for themselves how their abortion has impacted them and how it has changed their life.”
She continued, “I love to ask questions like, I’m just wondering ______, or Can you tell me a little more about that?We’re big fans of how and what questions, not why questions, because we’re not therapists. Lisa is, so she can ask why questions, but for the most part, our facilitators aren’t therapists. And so we ask how and what questions. And when we ask questions like that and give them an opportunity to reflect on it and talk about it and keep them talking about it, it’s amazing to see how they can come to conclusions themselves.”
Participants were given the opportunity to use the chat feature to ask questions of Lisa and Karin.
What are some of the secondary issues that might be connected to abortion struggles and how do they differ between men and women?
Lisa: That’s a great question. In our experience, it’s often early trauma, mostly sexual, and a loss of value and identity.
One of the main ones that I see is connected to sexual abuse. So, at some level, a large part of the women we have served have experienced some sort of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation.
Codependency is also a major part. We attribute that codependency to early childhood trauma, loots of dysfunction in the family of origin, etc. That is where we lose identity, purpose, and value, and we go looking for it in other people. You can imagine a young girl looking for that love, attention, acceptance in other people; she might find it in the opposite sex.
And he, in turn, also experienced that early trauma, and is struggling with the same things – identity, value, validation. He finds her, because we attract our brokenness, and together they create this place where they give each other what they don’t have to give – and our culture says we do that through sex. So they find themselves in a sexually-connected relationship. And they find themselves in unexpected pregnancies with no tools to experience whatever measures they need to endure and to have the ability to make good decisions.
Karin: I heard that question a little differently – as Somebody’s had an abortion and how has their life changed as a result? What are the presenting problems when they come to us? I would say substance abuse, domestic violence, codependency, like Lisa said. It could be homelessness, loss of a job or not being able to keep a job. I’ve heard Greg Mayo say that most men come angry. I can remember Greg Hasek saying that a lot of the men come to them because they’re in a sexual addiction after their abortion. So, it’s a plethora of things that people can present with – relationship, divorce, whatever. It could be that they’re coming to you with what they think they’re really struggling from.
Kylee Heap (Support After Abortion COO): Greg Mayo (Support After Abortion Men’s Task Force member) mentioned in the chat that for men, maternal attachment disorders could be a presenting issue.
Lisa: People aren’t raising their hands saying abortion is my problem. Oftentimes they’re not aware that the abortion is the problem. They’ve tried to stuff it so far down because they were never validated in their experience. And so it’s too far away to connect it. What’s in front of them is their financial difficulties, their relationships, their anger. So we have to be ready to meet their needs in that social service realm, because they’re going to show up somewhere, but it’s not likely going to be in the abortion healing room.
Kylee: Other people are starting to mention [presenting issues] that they’ve seen including eating disorders.
To what extent might the abortion wound be present in substance abuse recovery centers? Should providers look more deeply in long- term care facilities like that?
Karin: As most of you know, I became an alcoholic and a crack cocaine addict decades after I had my abortion. I was in nine different rehabs over the course of four years, and not once in all of that time did any case manager or any intake ask me a question about pregnancies. I didn’t even know healing existed. But if somebody had asked the question and I said, Yes, I had an abortion, hopefully they would have said, Well, how are you with that? I could have been directed to somebody. I might have had the opportunity 20 years earlier to get connected to healing. In our monthly webinars for licensed clinicians we talk about why it’s so important to ask that question on your intake, whether you provide abortion healing or not.
How do we share hope with our clients when we know that the journey for abortion healing is long, and they are seeking hope and closure?
Lisa: That’s a great question. I think we have to be able to be real with them and be realistic. I tell my groups or my clients that sometimes it gets harder before it gets easier because we need to face these things. Then I explain that these things have been stuffed in them, ruling their world, and until they get them out and we can look at them objectively, it’s hard to understand how they’re ruling our worlds. So I don’t ever lie or paint a picture that it’s going to be pretty or better. What I do promise them is that if they do the work, they are going to be more connected to themselves, which is going to allow them to be more connected to their freedom and their peace and who they really are. But we talk about how, if you’ve been on this path for 30 years, I don’t want you to expect that in 30 seconds you’re going to feel better. Now, the reality is just getting them to talk. If they talk about it for the first time or have a couple of sessions with you, or a couple of healing groups with you, they begin to feel the relief initially because for the first time, they’re allowing themselves to feel things and talk about them. I have appreciated the pain walking with somebody, and that’s what we try to help them understand.
What tips might you have in sharing your abortion with your children?
One individual is sharing that their deepest grief was telling their children about their abortion and having one of their children not understand – fortunately, this child has now come to understand.
Lisa: This is why we talk about healing as a journey, not a destination. In the book Keys to Hope and Healing, when we talk about sharing your story, we are specific in saying this isn’t about getting up on stage or getting on the news station in your community. It’s not about sharing with every family member. It’s about starting with the first safe person and practicing from there.
Also, we always have to evaluate our motives. Why are we sharing this? We can’t control other people, and therein lies that codependency. We can’t control other people’s grief and loss, or their misgivings, or regard for what we feel, or whatever. We cannot control those things. That’s why it’s so important for us to be connected with ourselves on our own healing journey and to really have pure motives. Because as we share our experience, it isn’t about what the other person thinks about it. It’s about our own release and our own desire to share with people.
As we think about children, it’s the same thing. All of our children are going to see abortion differently. All of our children are going to see everything differently. They’re made unique. To be able to meet them where they are, you have to meet yourself where you are, which can be very difficult for us because we can’t accept where we are. That’s why we constantly are talking about this journey, because a lot of us aren’t ready to meet ourselves.
So in an exchange that is healthy in nature between a family member who has experienced abortion and a child who doesn’t respond well, you can say to them This must be really hard for you, or You wish I didn’t have an abortion experience, or It sounds like this is really hard for you. And just let it be and let them have their own process with it. It [may] require therapy or their own healing journey. We want to be open to that.
Karin: I can tell about sharing my abortion story with my mother, which I didn’t do until just this year because I was always afraid of her feeling like she was a bad mom and asking Why didn’t she know? and Why couldn’t I come to her? At the time Lisa told me, “You don’t have control over how God affects and impacts your mom. You’re denying her of her ability to grieve what happened to you, and to go to God with that and have God work in her through that.” When we had the conversation, I was amazed at how my mom listened to me. It’s changed our relationship completely. My mom is now willing to have hard conversations with me that she never would have had before.
Kylee: There’s a lot of really great conversation happening in the chat where people have shared their fears and the ways in which their fears were calmed when they were able to actually speak about their abortion.
Talk a little bit about breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma.
Lisa: I’m going to use poverty as an experience for us to relate to. We often hear that poverty carries from one generation to the other, and most of us can understand and put our mind around why poverty repeats itself, right? If you are raised in a poverty mindset, you’re constantly pinching pennies. You’re unwilling to take risks with money. Education isn’t at the front and center. It’s about surviving the next day. You don’t ever learn the skills to adopt new understanding. And so then, when you become pregnant and you have your own family, oftentimes the only thing that you have to reference is your own experience. So it’s really hard to break a cycle that you don’t know how to break. And so I want you to hear that as we think about abortion.
Think of the mom and dad who talk about abortion openly – this is what they did, and it was the best thing, or they support it. And it’s constantly the message that we hear in our home. Or if you get pregnant, this is what’s going to happen – I’m never going to tolerate your pregnancy, and these sorts of things. Then we start a narrative inside the family that continues until it’s broken.
Karin: We find clients like that all the time, where their parent has had an abortion or supported their abortion, maybe pushed them towards abortion. Then the child later finds out that their parent had an abortion or was part of an abortion experience, if it’s a man. And we know that what we do in life is modeled for us by our parents, right? We either follow the model that we’ve been shown, or we go the complete opposite, right?
Karin shared that her father grew up with a father and brother who had an alcohol abuse disorder. She said that her father, instead of misusing alcohol, became a perfectionist, which she pointed out is also unhealthy. “Growing up, I could never attain his standards,” Karin said, “and I became a perfectionist myself. So we become what we see and we become what we hear.”
If a parent has influenced an abortion decision, I would be really curious. I don’t know that I’d ask my parent, but I’d be really curious – Why is it that you want me to do this so strongly? Did you have an abortion or were you part of an abortion yourself? And see if a parent would own up to that right? It can go on for generations. I’ve known clients whose grandparents had abortions. Their parents had abortions, they had abortions, their children are having abortions. If we don’t talk about the abortion wound that we’ve experienced, then that cycle is not going to be interrupted.
Lisa: It’s also important for us to know that sometimes it’s not outward or we’re not aware of it. Sometimes it’s the unspoken things. For example, it can be the mom who has no self esteem, who is constantly worried about what everybody thinks of the family, and she’s always worried about how you look and how you eat and what you present. So early on, you internalize this need to have a great image. Then at age 19, if having a baby is going to affect that image, those messages that have been pounded into you from such an early age mess with your self-image. So there’s all sorts of ways that these narratives enter into us and they’re all based in trauma and fear and unbelief, and they connect to the different ways in which we grow into this world and the personas that we create to adapt to them. As a participant said in the chat, “trauma transmits trauma.”
Karin: I had a client who told me that image was so important to her family that when she got pregnant, she didn’t want to bring shame to the family by being pregnant and not married. We hear that all the time.
Kylee: We have some other really great statements coming out in the chat, such as What we don’t talk out, we act out and When I reveal, I heal.
Are memorial services really necessary for people as part of their healing journey?
Karin: Absolutely. Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to do a memorial service. The purpose of a memorial service is to bring dignity to the life, however short lived it was. Naming a baby brings dignity to that life, brings identity to that life.
Karin made an analogy with her father’s memorial service and how all the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids came together, shared stories and memories, sang hymns, and prayed together. “What we did in that moment,” Karin said, “brought value to my dad’s life. We told everyone how much he poured into us and how much he meant to us, right? And we want to do the same thing with the children that we abort, because even though I didn’t have 85 years with my child alive, that child still matters to me. And I want to bring dignity to that life.”
The other reason we think the memorial service is so important is because that’s where the journey from intellect to heart takes place. And once something that you think becomes part of who you are, there’s no going back. Karin described the peace men and women receive through the memorial service. She also mentioned the certificates of life Support After Abortion has created that providers can use with their support groups.
Lisa addressed research on grief and loss and the application of that research to reproductive loss. She explained that reproductive loss is called disenfranchised grief because it isn’t acknowledged. “So the memorial service,” she said, “is bringing the meaning, the value, having a goodbye opportunity, and being able to say that this was a baby, this is my baby, he or she is a part of me and will forever be a part of me and my journey moving forward. And I don’t have to deny myself this experience, this loss, any longer.”
She continued, “That’s why we identified memorial in the change process, because that creates change in our journey. That creates an opportunity for us to say, I now understand how this experience hurt me. I see what this experience was for me, what I lost. I’ve allowed myself to grieve, and I’m going to allow myself to continue to grieve, and this is part of the process.”
But hear that it doesn’t have to look like your traditional memorial service. Some kind of opportunity to bring that life value and that person who’s experienced the loss of that life to some place of recognition that they have been hurt by this loss and that they can connect with the loss.
50% of the abortions in our country are repeat. So we want to help resolve that grief and loss so that the pattern doesn’t continue.
Lisa closed out the webinar with two questions for providers to ask themselves as they consider their ministries in 2023:
How can you better serve your community?
What is one thing that you heard today that you could bring back, that you could implement at the beginning of the year that could help you understand – and help those in your community understand – that abortion healing is a journey?
She said, “The abortion experiences that people are living with in our community need a journey. They don’t need a destination. And they need opportunities to connect with people along their path.”
Register for next month’s Abortion Healing Provider Webinar. NEED JAN
Register for next month’s Clinical Care for Clinicians Webinar. NEED JAN
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent or the program host, Support After Abortion.
Transcript 16 Nov 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
Guest Speaker: Jeff Baker, Founder, ShoesOptional
Host: Karin Barbito, Special Projects Manager, Support After Abortion
Length 1h 4m
Super excited to be here today. We have some great, great information, some great resources that we’re rolling out for you today.
I see so many familiar faces. Hi Donna. Hi Renee. Hi Terry. Hi Erica. Hi Greg. Hi, Sue. I just saw you yesterday. If I don’t know you, if I’ve never met you, please make sure that we connect somehow. I know there’s a whole lot of people that registered. I want to give them a few more minutes to come in, um, and not miss out on the recap of last month and what’s going to happen today. So we’re going to give it a couple more minutes. Again, if you could rename yourself first and last name so that we know who you are, that would be really great. Thank you for being here.
I know I don’t look like Lisa Rowe, but I’m going to channel my inner Lisa today for you all. She’s actually traveling for work right now.
Okay, we’re going to get started. As I said, my name is Karin Barbido. I’m the Special Projects Manager for Support After Abortion, and I’m going to be your host today. We’re so glad that you’re here. We have some of our support team here, Kylee, the COO of our company, and Ivy, Lisa’s Executive Assistant. And we have Greg Mayo here who’s part of our Men’s Task Force. So you are going to be well taken care of today. In case you couldn’t attend last month’s meeting, I just want you to know that it was live streamed on our Support After Abortion Facebook page. This recording is also being live streamed and recorded. So if there’s somebody that you know that could benefit from watching it, please let them know where they can find it.
Last month we talked about, if you remember, if you were here, memorializing children and, and why that is an important part of the healing process. We said that we had Certificates of Life that you could use when you’re facilitating a group or doing one-on-ones, or if your clients wanted to do that themselves at their own pace. We have upped our game! We created 10 new certificates for you, and they’re beautiful. I think that Kylee might have a link for you at the end when she gives all kinds of information. If you could mute yourselves, that would really be helpful so everybody can hear what’s being said. If we’re going to ask questions, I’ll invite you. You can raise your hand and I’ll invite you to unmute yourself so that we can hear your question live. So we have those Recognition of Life Certificates, and there’s a whole bunch of varieties of them. There’s some for men, some for women to memorialize their children. It just brings dignity to the life. There’s some that are religious, some that are more secular, just whatever would meet your needs.
So today, I’m so excited to announce that we are launching our Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory! So excited. Three things that I want to tell you about this. (1), it’s a way for you to refer a client to the services that they’re requesting that perhaps you don’t offer yet, right? So it’s a win for you because you’re connecting a client to the healing that they’re looking for. (2) You also, on the other end, will be receiving referrals from other people. If you have your profile updated and you have your information in there – all of the options that you offer that people can find you and make referrals to you. (3) And the third win is for that client because we’re respecting where they are, we’re meeting them where they’re at, and we’re connecting them to the healing that they’re asking for, right? So it’s a win, win, win.
And the person that’s been working on this with me and our team for so long is with us. His name is Jeff Baker. Let me tell you a little bit about Jeff. Jeff has been working in the website world since 1996. He launched his digital marketing company, ShoesOptional, LLC, in 2014 with the goal of building websites that will help clients share their business and their passion with the world. Throughout the last several years, Jeff and his ShoesOptional team have been rolling out their own proprietary digital marketing roadmap that helps businesses and organizations dominate in their respective industries. Jeff’s entrepreneurial experience and passion for emerging technology allows him to meet the ever-changing requirements of today’s business world head on. So, without further ado, I’m going to hand it over to Jeff who’s going to introduce you to our directory.
Awesome. Thank you, Karin. That’s a great introduction. I didn’t realize I did all that stuff. No, I’m kidding. I do a lot of that and have a lot of fun doing it. So thank you for allowing me to be part of the webinar today.
Just to kind of share some things, obviously one of the main goals, if you look at anything to do with Support After Abortion, one of their passions is the concept of building capacity to help those in need. And so part of that is not only revamping the website this year, redoing quite a bit of content and messaging, but also making sure we have additional resources that can allow people to get help for things like after-support healing. It’s targeted towards men, women, and friends and family – those who might have been impacted on some level.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take a look at a couple things today. So let me go ahead and share my screen and I’ll go through a couple thoughts here, and then we’ll get going.
We’re going to talk about what’s called the Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory. It’s a mouthful, but it’s very accurate in what it does. So Support After Abortion, obviously in their, their passion to build that capacity, we decided there’s got to be a way to allow people to find the resources, connect providers to other resources that are either nearby or global. You’ll find that through our network, as it continues to grow, this will have a global footprint. So if you are serving clients literally anywhere in the world, there will most likely at some point be a resource for them to be able to access.
So here’s what we’re going to take a look at today. We’re going to go through a couple things. We’re just going to do a quick flyover of how the process works.
So one of the things about any search directory, there’s always nuances to it. So one of the things will be how can we get the best search results possible? So if you’re literally on the phone with somebody and you’re trying to find a resource and you’re using the directory to locate something, there are going to be times when you run into No results found, for example.
So, how do we improve our search capabilities? How do we look at improving that so you can get the best possible thing? And again, as it grows, there’s going to be more and more resources. There’ll be less and less likelihood that you’re going to not get any results. But right now we have about a little over 150 people in the system. And if you are part of that network already, you’ve most likely updated your profile. We’re actually going to talk about that as part of this today too, of making sure that your profile is as accurate as possible. The more accurate your information is on the system, the more likelihood that we will be able to use that information to connect people well within the provider network. The other part is, if you get stuck, we’re always here to help. And so one of our email addresses that’s available to you is firstname.lastname@example.org. So kind of keep that in the back of your mind, but that’s if you get stuck somewhere, if your profile doesn’t work, if something happens, email that and somebody on our team will be able to help you out as best as possible. And then last, but not least, we’re going to take a look a little bit about how you get the word out. If you know others out there that provide abortion healing support, then there’s going to be some ways that you can recommend them to us. And we do have somewhat of a vetting process where we want to make sure we understand what their programs are, what they offer, so that we can then go ahead and add them to our system. And then finally, at the very end, there’ll be a little bit of time for Question & Answer. If there are things that you’re curious about, if there’re features that you would like to see down the road, maybe some of those types of things, we can ask questions then. But let’s go ahead and kind of take a look here.
So, the main focus of why we have this network is to build capacity, right? So what we’re going to do is, I’m going to switch screens and we’re going to dive in and actually go through a live example on the site.
So right now, this is sort of a hidden link at the moment. And what I mean by that is, this is behind the scenes, it’s live, the world can see it, but it’s not linked to anything up here yet.
So eventually we’re going to actually put this right under here where it says healing providers.
Right now it says directories, but it will ultimately say is Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory and will be under the Healing Provider tab. And when you get there, this is the starting page. The good news is, if you come to this page, you’re going to already see that there are 150+ providers in the network. And if as you scroll, you’re going to see some that have fairly complete profiles with logos and contact information, and then you’re going to see some that don’t.
Again, as we grow, we’re going to have more and more people updating their profiles and getting that as accurate as possible. So to really take advantage of this, you can either just scan through what’s already there and just go page by page. Obviously 150 providers is a lot to go through, but if you’re looking for something specific, we want you to start right here.
So in, in our little search filter, if you click on that, it expands some, and there’s a lot of different search capabilities.
If you already know a provider and you know the name of that provider, you can go ahead and search by a provider name. So for example, you could search for Support After Abortion and our profile would show up. However, it also does a little bit of a keyword search. So in their profile, if they have the term support after abortion, it will actually bring that profile forward as one of the options there. And then we also have other things here where we have the ability to pull up different categories. So we can either search by female, or male, or friends or family. This is kind of the big bucket. So think about it in terms of starting the search as high as possible and then narrowing it down. So we usually start with these two things. So if you’re helping somebody that’s either male or female or friends and family – right now we don’t have anybody in that [friends and family], so I’m going to actually use that to show you what a Results Not Found might look like.
And then also under here, you can search and narrow by an actual location and there’s radius information there, as well. We’re just going to do a quick search by friends or family, and I’m going to go ahead and just use that without narrowing the search at all.
There is one that we do have – this is an example profile that I’ve been working with just to show how some of this works.
So if I just did friends and family, you’ll see that it actually serves female and friends and family. If you hover over it, you can also quickly get to their contact information right here on the profile.
Or if you click into the profile, you’ll find a lot more information. And this is going to give you a little bit of an idea of how some of this works for the providers.
So again, the programs that they offer are typically going to be a more abortion minded, groups, religious, there’s a whole bunch. We’ll show you what those look like here shortly. You have the ability to have a description, some information about that profile. And then also what you’ll have is the ability to look at any of their contact information, any of their social profiles and go from there. And then if there’s a video, we do allow a link to both YouTube and Vimeo type videos where you can plug those in.
And it gives you the ability to give more of a quick profile or quick intro about what your program is, what you offer. And then down here is the map. The map has a little bit more information on it, as far as how to get directions if they need it, or they can click in and find and zoom out and get a better idea of how to get to your location.
Now, just to give you a quick heads up, there is a little formatting issue I’m seeing here today. This is usually full screen. So I’ll, I’ll just kind of let you know that that actually is a little bit wider than what you typically would see on the screen, or what you would typically see on the screen is wider than what we see at the moment.
So that’s one way to, to do a quick search. The other option is if I do go in here and I start my search over, I can either get rid of friends and family, I can do female, and then if I do a search by radius, so I can do a search by say, Venice, Florida, if I click on this, it’s going to bring this radius option up for me.
And I can say, you know what? I want to see if there’s something maybe within 60 to 80, maybe 90 miles, and you can narrow it down even farther. What we found is that if you increase the mileage a little bit, you’re going to definitely find more resources. And I don’t even have to put any programs offered at the moment, but again, these checkboxes are the different programs available. If I hit search now, what you’ll see is it will go ahead and bring any programs that are focused on helping female clients within a 90 mile radius of that particular zip code, that location. And now we have what looks like 11 providers. So as I scroll down, you’ll see 11 different profiles you can take a look at.
Again, you’ll see that there’s an option to quickly see their contact information right on this screen, or if you click into it, it will again go further into that profile where you can get additional information, social media links, if they have them updated, videos, if they’re available, all that contact information.
So this is kind of how the search works. We are putting a lot of those finishing touches on it. So there are a few little things that I’m seeing in our presentation that are being fixed.
Another part is if we actually do not find results. So let me go ahead and do that. So say for example, Greenville, South Carolina, which is near where I’m at, if I do a search, it may not bring anybody within zero miles. So see where it says no listings found.
Basically that means that we don’t have anybody within zero miles of Greenville. We might have somebody a little bit spread out, but that’s why we have this header up at the top. So up to the top here, it says, here’s some tools about how you can navigate the search a little bit better. So if we click on that, it’s a little popup. We have a video that talks about a lot of what I’m talking about today of how to, how to get the best results for your search and your strategy. This little popup window will give you some really quick information.
And then if you don’t see a provider that you think should be part of our network, we actually have a button up here that says, recommend a provider. It’s going to take you to the contact page.
Then that’s where you’d fill it out and just say, I think this provider would be a really good asset to the provider network, and we would go ahead and begin the process of trying to get them on board as well.
So that’s the search tool as a whole. And again, we’ll talk a little bit about that. If you have some questions, we’ll get to that here in a minute.
The next question really becomes, how do you update your profile? So I’m going to switch over to this tab. If you just go to our regular Support After Abortion.com, in this upper right hand corner between the About section and the Give button, there’s a little profile icon.
If you hit the login button…
If you don’t have a login, let us know and we’ll make sure we tie your login to your profile if it’s already in the system, or we’ll attach it to that somehow.
So, what we have is, if we go into this section, by the way, this is a broader login function of our website. So if you’ve purchased things through the store, if you’ve been part of our provider training, if you’ve done some other things, we’ll show you that.
So when I log in as a user, I’m going to hit the login button, it’s going to bring me to my dashboard screen, and this is where I can manage my account.
So, for example, if I want to change my name or my primary email that I’m using in my system, I can go ahead and change all of that right here. If for some reason you want to change your username, let us know. We can do that manually on our side. But typically your username in most cases will be your email address. Not always. You may have already had an account that didn’t have an email address and it just had a regular username. You should be fine to use that. If you need to change your password for any reason, you have an option here under your profile, you can put a profile picture. Most people aren’t going to see that, by the way. It’s just a placeholder. But if you go ahead and use the change password, you can update your password so that it’s easier to use for you. And again, as I mentioned, if you’ve already purchased things through our online store, you can manage that here. So if I click on this button, it’s going to take me to any of my accounts, my past orders, any of those types of things there. The training center, if you’ve already been part of our training platform, this is how you would access any of the trainings that you’ve already signed up for or potentially sign up for additional training, if you’re interested.
The purpose of our login today is to go ahead and go into the profile that would be set up. So down here, the provider directory, if I go ahead and click on this, it’s going to take me into my profile that is tied to my login.
Some of you, if you have multiple locations and you need to manage multiple profiles, we can set it up so that when you get to this screen, you would see all of your different locations and different options there. So let us know if you have multiple locations that need to be managed, we’ll help you get that taken care of. Again, you’re going to use email@example.com to reach out for that.
So this is just the one I’ve been using as a test profile. If I hit the edit button, it’s going to give me all kinds of things to make sure. So this is the important part for everybody that’s on this webinar today. We really, really value accuracy in data. The more accurate the data we have, the better chances of helping those looking for support, better chance we’re going to get them plugged in, right? So again, Title, this is your organization name, so make sure you have that spelled exactly the way it needs to show up down here. Again, this is your description. You can use certain font elements just as a caution on that. I would recommend that you don’t get crazy with your profile fonts, like don’t do a bunch of weird colors and all that stuff. You can do some heading levels, for example. You can do some bold, italics, and some bullets.
The profile is really meant to give people a really quick overview of what your organization is about and the types of things you help with. You can also add additional contact information in here. Your profile allows you to have two phone numbers – we’re going to look at that in a second – and one email address as part of the profile. You can add additional stuff in this text box if you need to, to direct people in different options, right?
So again, this is your description. You can have a tagline. It shows up briefly a little bit under your profile name. I just used Healing one day at a time [as a sample tagline].
This is very important. Your location is going to be based on the location of your primary office. If you have multiple occasions in different states, then I would set up a profile for each one, because we’re going to use that as part of how the radius search works. But this is based on actual states and countries and other things. All the states are here, but if your country or other things aren’t in here that you need to be tied to, let us know and we’ll add those. That’s your location.
The other part of these are all the tags. They’re called tags, but what they are on the front end, what we describe them as, are programs that you provide. So if you look in this dropdown, you’ll see that a lot of these coincided with some of the emails that Karin had sent out about getting your profile added in the first place. You’ll see a lot of these are the same. So anything that is true about your organization… if you do after abortion healing, if you do things that are in English or Spanish, if you have a helpline or in person or it’s a pregnancy center, make sure you check every one of these so that they all show up here. You want this box to be as full of the actual tags and programs that you offer. So that, again, if somebody’s searching for that, your results will show up. And again, the category is really, are you focused on male, female, or friends and family? If you do all three, that’s great, but sometimes some organizations may be only focused on helping women heal, right? Or maybe you focus more on helping men heal. Just make sure your category is accurate on how you do that.
Down here is extremely important. So your postal code, your zip code is kind of part of how that radius search starts to work. Your phone number, you have a primary and secondary phone number you can fill in. We do ask and recommend that you use this format here for your phone number with the dashes because if somebody’s on a mobile device and they hit that number, it’s actually going to flip over to their phone and it’s going to be able to dial that number directly without a lot of weird formatting issues. So try to use the area code dash and then the rest of the phone number the way it is there. If you have a fax number, go ahead and put that in there. People can access that.
This email address is extremely important. This will be the primary email address that people will use to contact your organization. So make sure that that is accurate. A lot of times people have an info@, or they’ll have support@ type of an email that allows people to connect initially.
Then, your website. Very important, as much as possible, to use the full website address with the https and all that in there. It makes it a lot easier to format it and make it easy to click on.
Then here are your social media options. So if you have multiple accounts, you can add as many as you want. Not all accounts are represented here, but a lot of them are. The big ones like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,YouTube and several others are all in here. If we need to add additional social media things down the road, let us know. We can look into that.
The map is very important. This is where you actually want to put your exact address in here. And as you start to type it in, you’ll notice that it actually brings a drop down here. And this is what you want to click on when you’re adding your address. The reason why is it triggers the Google map to go ahead and put the marker right here in the middle. And it actually helps with the radius search because it actually gives the latitude and longitude coordinates that it uses for that radius to work. If for some reason Google doesn’t put it in the right place and you happen to know your own latitude and longitude, you can actually come down here and put your own latitude and longitude in. I would highly recommend that you don’t do that because most of us don’t have any idea what that is. But if Google is not positioning you correctly, then you can manually override that if you need to.
Then down, here’s where you are able to put your primary photo, which is typically your logo. But you can also add additional photos if you have a slideshow, or if you want to add some additional kind of depth to your profile, you can add a couple more photos. There’s a maximum of five files allowed.
And this Preview Changes really is basically a save button. What it’s going to do is save it and it should bring you back into this profile here where we just started from.
Now again, if you have more than one location while you’re in here, you can actually hit this submit location or submit listing option.
And this is also a link we can send to you if you need to add your profile, if it’s not in the system at this point, we can send you another link to this. This submit listing will actually open up basically, I’ll do it here, iIt opens up a blank screen where you put in all the information we just walked through. So we’ll go ahead and share that with you if you need it.
But that’s basically how our provider network works. So the front end is over here:
And this is how the Search Our Provider Network starts. This is our starting page right here:
And this is where we begin to narrow the search and view.
You can sort different ways as well. Right now you can sort things differently. You can view them even as a list or a grid or a map. There’s a lot of functionality here, but overall, most people are just going to quickly come in here.
They’re going to either type in a name, search by radius, look at a program that might be offered and hit the search options or search and it will go ahead and begin that entire process.
So that gives us a very high flyover of what we’re doing. And so what I’m going to do is I’m just going to kind of pause there and open it up for any questions or answers, and hopefully you have questions and I think hopefully I’ll have the answers.
Jeff, thank you so much for that. That was very informative. I’ve been working so closely on this with you and there were things in here that I didn’t know that you had created that are really outstanding. So thanks for surprising me as well.
I have a question, as you were going through the profile part of it. Tell us why building out that profile with a logo, and with a description of what you provide, and what maybe your mission and vision is, and making sure that you look through all of those tags (because there’s a lot more than just those four tags – there are 9 or 10 tags) and make sure sure that you’re including all the options. Why is that so important for them?
Jeff Baker That’s a really good question. Here’s an example of that, right?
So if I’m looking at a list of results, I’m going to be drawn to the ones that actually have a logo and have a lot more information, right? Some of the ones that are just kind of sitting out there at the moment that haven’t really been updated, we just have this placeholder logo saying that they’re a support provider with Support After Abortion. So we do have a little bit of that there, but what’s happening is, if you don’t have your logo, then your profile has a tendency to be just kind of bland, and it just kind of fades in the background. The more information you have, the more likelihood you’re going to get some better results, obviously. The other part is making sure that if you’re focused on helping male or female clients or friends and family, making sure that’s accurate as much as possible because that is going to influence what type of results people see on the screen. And then having all those programs that you offer checked and making sure they’re part of your profile is going to be extremely important as well.
Let me just follow up on that, Jeff, because we have categories where it’s a multiple choice kind of situation. You have to choose women, you have to choose men, family members, you might have to do multiple searches if you have men and women that you’re working for, but on the tags, which we call them, which is like the options that you offer, it’s a checkbox. So what could happen with that, Jeff? Somebody searches on something that they think is really specific and then when they click on the profile of the company, they find that they’re not really offering what they thought they were offering. Can you address that?
That’s a really good thing. Let me pull that part up and kind of walk through through what you’re talking about there.
So if I use these check boxes to search – And these are supposed to be in a different order here. They’re supposed to go down the page. I’m fixing that as we’re talking. – But basically what this does is, even if I check multiple boxes, it’s important to understand that this is not saying, Hey, I’m only going to show results of abortion-minded options peer counseling and groups. What it’s going to do is show me anybody that offers abortion-minded peer counseling and also [anybody that] offers groups. So it’s going to bring back multiple results.
So if I just search for that and I want something that’s focused on female, and I use that search criteria, I should get quite a number of results. Yeah, so we had 59 providers and I didn’t use a location. All I did was these search options here, abortion minded groups and female. And so all of these definitely offer female, but some of these may also offer it for both male and female.
But if I go into… let’s use An Even Place here, they have a logo.
So if I go into here, they do offer after abortion and they also offer groups. So this actually kind of meets a little bit of that criteria, but they also do that for male and female both, right? So yeah, it’s very important to have that as accurate as possible because that will allow people to most likely find what they’re looking for.
Thank you, Jeff. We have some hands raised here, so I’m going to go ahead and ask Jill Marquis to unmute herself and ask your question to Jeff.
Okay. First of all, this is fabulous. Oh my gosh, kudos. Huge kudos. My question is, how will you keep the information up to date? Does that fall back on the provider? Or is there something in your system that’s going to trigger, like, Hey, you guys need to come update your stuff?
That’s a really good question. Right now it is, as much as possible, we are giving the keys back to each provider to maintain their information for accuracy. Obviously with several hundred profiles already, that could be a daunting task for us to try to follow up and manage that. Ideally, each provider should really do that. I would say that maybe off and on throughout the year, we may do spot checks and make sure that the providers are doing what they can, but ideally that should be something that, maybe in your own calendars, I would recommend just maybe putting, every two or three months or every six months, a little popup on your calendar that says, Hey, go check my profile and make sure everything’s still accurate. That would be ideal if everybody would do something similar to that.
Thank you so much, Jill. I see Debbie Tilden’s hand. Debbie, would you unmute yourself and ask
Yes, yes. Again, awesome. Kudos to you guys doing this. Specific to location -can we put it as vague as a state? I don’t do a lot out of my home office. A lot is virtual and we can be a rescue home sometimes, so I really don’t want my home address out there most of the time. So how specific does that have to be? Can I do a P.O. Box?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. You’re absolutely right. A lot of providers don’t have a physical location. So if you don’t have a physical address, we actually have one of the options here that says virtual. Let me show you here.
Under location, if you did virtual only, there’s an option that says virtual only that would be recommended. And then you wouldn’t really have to worry about any of this other stuff like your postcode or your map address. You wouldn’t need to put anything in those, those two options.
Awesome, thank you.
Thank you Deb. Donna, I see that you have your hand raised. Would you mute yourself and ask your question?
Okay. So when you first go into your profile, it’s asking for a username and password. How do we get that username and password?
Yeah, that’s a good question. If you have done anything within our system before, whether you’ve purchased something through our store or have done any of our provider trainings, then you will have a username and password. You will have an email address that you would [use to] log in for the training, for example. So if you have that, but you don’t have a profile attached to it, go ahead and email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what your login email typically is. If we need to set up an account, we can also do that through that process as well and then tie it to a profile if it’s in the system or begin the process of setting up a new profile for you.
Are there any other questions? Shauna, unmute yourself. Ask your question while I look to see about the questions in the chat.
Yeah, I’m so sorry, I was a little bit late joining, and so my question may have already been answered, but this database, is it just for providers, like if we would get a phone call, for us to refer somebody to something near them or can individuals looking for help just do a search on this website and find what they’re needing?
That’s a good question. We had some general discussion about making this a password- protected area that’s only for providers, but the kind of the fallout of that dialogue is that if somebody is looking for help and they’re able to access the directory –
Now it is going to be under the Healing Providers [website section] in an area called Directory, or the full name of [the Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory], so it will be sort of more focused on you, as tool for you guys to use.
But anybody can use it honestly. It’ll be open for anybody that wants to use it. It’s just whether or not they will find it here specifically.
Okay, thank you.
Kylee Heap (Support After Abortion Chief Operating Officer)
I’d like to speak to that for just a moment. We are seeing, at Support After Abortion, a growing number of our potential clients who have a lot of fear around reaching out to abortion healing providers. And they have shared a desire to be able to directly connect with a provider in their area or who suits their particular needs and search criteria. So we do hope that this will be a huge win for providers to connect with clients in that way.
Yeah. Thank you, Kylee, for that. There are a couple of questions in the chat and then I see a couple hands raised. This is great engagement and conversation. I really appreciate your participation.
How do you add more than one tagline, Jeff?
Yeah, so that’s a good question. There is only room for one tagline here. But if you wanted to add maybe more quotes or little things like that, you could do it in your profile. So if you wanted to come down here and add another tagline of some sort, you can always, highlight the tagline and make it a different heading level and it would stand out that way.
You can even make it bold or italic and that way it would highlight that. You can even put it at the very top of the page or top of your profile and then all the other information is below. But the tagline only has room for one option.
Thank you, Jeff. And we have another question that says I’m working on setting up a website. I haven’t completed a directory profile because of that. Can she go ahead and set up her profile even if she doesn’t have a website?
Yes. I would go ahead and do that. And then all you would do is leave [the website] field blank. Instead of a website, you could even link it to your Facebook profile or whatever there. Ideally you would want to do that as a social media link down here, but you could also put it there as a temporary placeholder.
Awesome. Thank you. Jeff. Mary Jean, I see that you have your hand up. Would you like to ask
Yes, ma’am. I am in the process of [becoming] a volunteer at Support After Abortion and am now at the point to have an interview. Is that part of this at all? Is that totally separate? Would it take the place of having a discussion about what we have to offer? I’m just confused.
So Mary Jean, help me to understand – you are onboarding as a volunteer with Support After Abortion?
Do you know in what capacity you’re looking to volunteer?
I thought we were talking about Support After Abortion recovery healing.
Okay. So Support After Abortion is represented in this directory and as a volunteer at Support After Abortion, you would be represented through our agency. Does that make sense?
Yes, it does. Should I then, because we will also offer things here locally, set up a profile as well as being covered [as a volunteer with Support After Abortion]?.
If you have your own ministry that offers abortion healing, yes. That would be separate from your volunteering at Support After Abortion.
Great. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Okay. We have another question here. It says, do people share their stories? I’m going to ask for a little clarification from Michael. If you could unmute yourself and, and give us a little bit more detail on what you’re asking relative to this directory.
I’m wondering if a person tell their reason what occurred their life in some manner what pointed them towards abortion or kind of thoughts or ideas they got and what brings them there.
So really how this is, is going to be used is if you are in a location, let’s say that you’re part of a pregnancy center and someone comes in and through your process of intake, you find out that they’ve had an abortion and they’re looking for a retreat model because they’re busy and they can’t spend weeks in a support group. And so you don’t offer retreats. So you as the provider, the pregnancy center, could come into this directory and find a retreat for them that might meet their needs. It would be during that. I mean, certainly you can start the conversation with them about their woundedness and their abortion experience, and we encourage you to do that, but the actual healing process would be put into the hands of a retreat. Does that make sense, Michael?
Is there a high proportion of people who have abortion that need healing? Is there, you know what I’m saying? Is there a high proportion that people, they have an abortion is a high proportion that turn to look for healing or, that make sense?
Yeah, it does make sense. Kylee, do you have those statistics available from our consumer research? The percentage of men and women, if they knew where to go for healing, would reach out for that?
Yeah, so what we’ve learned through our research is that 82% of people who are impacted by abortion do not know where to go to receive the help that they desire. And we know [from our consumer research] that a third of [women and 71% of men] overall are hurting after abortion and [3 out of 5 women and 4 out of 5 men indicated a] desire to receive support. We’ve learned through our work that the support that they desire is varied, and that it could come in many shapes and and spaces over time. It’s not one and done. So perhaps you would experience one element of healing that might later on reveal for you a desire to experience different healing. At our AFTER ABORTION LINE our team works with people who just want to have somebody listen to them in a phone call, and that may be their entire experience of healing that day. It may take them months before they reach out again to say, I’d like to join a group, I’d like to talk about this with my peers. So we just see such a variety of people and their needs and always want to step forward into supporting them and meeting them where they’re at.
We have another question. Are you complete Michael, or did you have something?
I’m good. I’m good. Thanks.
Thank you, Kylee, for that. Jeff, there have been several questions about If I don’t have a login or password, how do I get one? Could you go through that little person emoji and explain again, if they’ve ever purchased anything from our store or been part of our provider training hub, that they already have a username and password. Thank you, Jeff.
Yeah, that’s a really good thing. So let me go ahead and do this. I’m going to log out. So if you’ve come, if you go to Support After Abortion.com and you come up to this upper right hand profile, you’ll see an option that says log in
When you hover over it, when you click on the login, it’s going to give you an option, right?
The first option is, if you already have a username and password, you can do this by putting your username or email address in. Hit your password, sign in, and you’re ready to go.
If you forgot your password, you can just go ahead and put your email address or username.
If you click on Forgot Password, it will send it to you based on username or email address. And then that will allow you to log in. It will give you what we call a reset password link, right?
The other option is, if you come here and you have not registered, you can go ahead and hit the the register right here:
It’s going to take you to what’s called our Training Registration Form:
This is a lot of your information that most of this is not currently required other than your name, your email address and phone number. You can use this to create your username and password. And once you log in, that’s getting at least into the system. That doesn’t necessarily mean your listing profile is going to be tied to that at that point.
So what we would recommend is that once you create an account, let us know. And what we’ll begin the process of trying to either find a profile if it’s already in the system and link you to it. Or if we need to have you create a profile, we’ll send you a link that says how to add a profile. We’ll show you how to do that in a little bit, or we’ll send that out to you in a little bit.
Thank you so much, Jeff. I have time for one more question. Does anybody else have a question? If so, go ahead and unmute yourself or raise your hand.
I have a question. This is Michael again. I’m wondering, I don’t know if this is all going on a tangent, but I wonder if people who have had an abortions and gone through the healing process, do they present themselves to other people who are thinking about getting an abortion?
Say that again, Michael? Would they present themselves to other people? I’m not understanding your question.
Like giving a speech or at a meeting or something and there’s people who are considering an abortion. If you have a person that already went through the abortion and has gone through the healing process, would a person that has healed present their story to prevent others from having abortion?
I understand your question now, Michael. That’s a great question. So under heal, under receive healing on this page of the website where Jeff is, can you click on that, Jeff? Receive Healing and down under the Client Healing Center
We have little videos exactly talking about what you just asked.
So we have videos for people that are considering an abortion, testimonies of people that have already had one. We have videos for people that have experienced abortion and what that experience was like for them. So clients can come in here anonymously. There’s no registration or no log in is necessary. Why don’t you click on the Considering an Abortion one, Jeff, just so that they can see what the options are.
So we have What you may experience after having an abortion, Considering an at home pill abortion?, and Pregnant? Making a sound decision. So these are really short videos that people that might be in a similar situation can come to. So we have developed that. We’re building it out all the time, but this is what we have so far.
So how do you lead a person to that? I mean, I’ve been a witness where a man, a woman don’t want to be told what to do with her body. I think you people said it’s more than meets the eye. I mean, there’s a baby to consider, there’s a woman to consider, and a husband or boyfriend.
So Michael, how about if we make a connection with Support After Abortion and you so that we can talk about these things individually? I’d be happy to have conversations with you or Greg Mayo. Greg is with us here today. From a man’s perspective he’d be happy to talk to you about some of the things that you’re asking about, would that be okay with you?
It’d be okay.
Michael, put your email in the chat, that would be great, and we’ll capture that. Thank you everyone for all of the conversation. It has been really riveting.
Kylee, I’m opening it up to you for announcements and next steps and all the great things that we have coming.
Thank you Karin. I do have one question I really wanted to get answered for Sherry before we move on. Sherry asked if she can have more than one login per center. So if she has multiple team members that want to log in, is that possible?
At this point, we would request that you have a master login that manages all of your profiles. So you can have multiple profiles tied to one login, but you can’t have multiple logins with multiple profiles at this point.
Great. Thank you. And Terry, your question asking us if we’re going to direct clients to biblical or secular studies, we are focused on directing them to the resource that they need. So if they desire clinical, one-on one, group, secular, religious, whatever really is appealing to them is where they’re going to land first. And that may morph over time. They may desire something different the next time they encounter or seek healing and we’ll be there to direct them once again to perhaps a new resource or a different level of the existing resource that they’re at.
So Karin has invited me to talk to you about some next steps. And I can’t believe that we’re in November wearing long sleeves and it’s cold and we are just really focused on wrapping up the year, but already planning for 2023, as I’m sure each of you are. So as we wrap up the year, I really want to emphasize to you that we have launched this Client Care [Webinar] for clinicians. It’s a meeting led by clinicians Lisa Rowe and Greg Hasek. They have different topics every month. It feels a lot like this meeting, but it’s clinical. So if you have somebody on your team who is that clinical arm for your pregnancy center or if you know of a clinician in your town that you’re referring clinical level support to, this is the place where they’re going to receive that training because as Lisa and Greg will both say they did not receive that kind of training in school. They didn’t receive it as they were doing internships. And this is kind of your one-stop shop for that kind of support. Next month that meeting is on Tuesday, December the 20th, the third week of the month, at noon. And it’s going to be on the topic of The Role of Codependency in Abortion Experiences. Our very own Karin Barbido will be a special guest alongside Greg Mayo, who has been extremely quiet in this meeting, which is not like him, but I know he must be lurking in the shadows here. What I’m going to do is put the link in our chat for you to register yourself for that event.
And of course, everything’s available on replay in our Provider Training Center . So, be sure that you look for that. Next step is our Abortion healing provider meeting, this meeting. Next month what we’re going to talk about is Remaining Curious within the Abortion Healing Process. One of the things that I’ve taken so much for granted is remaining curious and how to ask questions because so much of my heart is to try to alleviate suffering, and sometimes I try to swoop in a little faster than what is appropriate for our situation. So we’re going to have Lisa Rowe and Karin Barbito lead us in a conversation about remaining curious. I’m going to put that registration link in the chat, and you are going to click that to sign yourself up.
And then we have listened to you, we’ve heard you say that you want to learn how to lead Keys to Hope and Healing, or you want a refresher, but doing it week after week after week is just a little too spread out for some of you. So what we’ve decided to do is to have it on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of December at lunchtime, at noon Eastern Standard Time. And what we’ll do is we’ll go through that six step journey of introductory abortion healing with you, and we’ll do it back to back days so that it is just like an immersion experience for you. And I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with it
In 2023, sneak peak, we’re going to route people through this [Keys to Hope and Healingfor Leaders] training, then through our certification course on our website. And then if you’re offering Keys to Hope and Healing virtually, you’re going to be a part of an inside track for us of people that we refer to when we have clients who need a virtual group and people that we offer some special just VIP awesome training courses about how to lead a group, how to deal with that rogue group member who talks too long, and different other facets of conversations that are just particular to leading virtual groups. So we hope that you’ll join us for [the December 13-14-15 Keys to Hope and Healing for Leaders training webinar series].
Karin and Ivy are heading out to New York. So if you are in New York, and you’re going to that Pregnancy Center Conference in New York, please, please, please say hi to Karin. She’s a hugger; I’m just going to tell you now. <laugh>. So everybody will be greeted with a big hug and just excitement over being able to finally match faces to names in person, which is such a joy for us as we travel around the country. And that is our last big conference of the year. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I just am so excited about Christmas. So I hope that each of you have a good rest of November, a good, happy Thanksgiving. And please email us at email@example.com if you have any questions. And Karin’s already wanting to ask one [question]. <laugh>
Yeah, the Recognition of Life Certificates. Do we have a link for them or is that coming? Will that be in the follow up email?
It will be in the follow up email. Our Graphic Designer, Cindi has been working on this, with a lot of input from our team, about what it is that would speak to the hearts of a lot of different people walking through this kind of loss. And we’re going to send you all of our templates. They’re ready to fill in. You can use them with your team. And we look forward to getting your feedback on which ones really resonated with you because man, there are so many different ways to approach this type of certificate.
All right. Well, we have two minutes to go. We’re going to let you out early, y’all.
Thank you, Karin. Thank you, Jeff. What an extraordinary day to be able to launch this. Yes, thank you. Take care.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent or the program host, Support After Abortion.
This weekend, Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, LCSW, showed social workers how to navigate challenges associated with helping women who have experienced at-home abortions.
Rowe told attendees of the 2022 North American Christian Social Workers (NACSW) conference that at-home abortions are becoming more prevalent and, based upon recent research, cause significant distress to about one-third of women.
“Support After Abortion’s national study makes clear that medication abortions will increase the burdens on social workers,” said Rowe after the conference. “One in three women suffer adverse impacts from medication abortions; but fewer than one in five women even know that help for those adverse impacts exists. Identifying and addressing these traumas will, as it often does with other traumas, fall on social workers.”
Rowe’s one-hour presentation included a key process change for social workers. She noted that since most women keep medication abortions very private, asking about any child loss and then listing various losses – such as miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoptions, and abortion – will provide the opportunity for women to open up in a psychologically secure way. She also provided Support After Abortion’s research-based language best practices to help women feel safe in sharing their abortion experiences.
The NACSW conference helps Christian social workers apply their faith to the practical realities of helping homes which are often struggling through brokenness. Rowe said that her presentation was designed to enable social workers to better serve as the front lines of helping women, men, and families find healing after traumas.
“Social workers are almost always under-resourced and overburdened with heart-breaking and difficult duties,” said Rowe. “I was honored to help them be better prepared for this important vocation by sharing how to help the real people suffering after abortion.”
About Support After AbortionSupport After Abortion is an abortion healing organization which promotes compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create gold-standard care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts.
Originally Published October 31, 2022 on DC Journal
Trauma begets trauma begets trauma.
That’s the story shown in “Blonde,” the controversial and graphic new Netflix movie about 20th-century sex icon and Golden Globe-winning actress Marilyn Monroe. The first major trauma viewers see is Monroe’s mother trying to drown her in a bathtub; other traumas include being abandoned by her father, being placed in orphanages and foster homes as a child, and being raped as a young adult.
Psychological literature and licensed clinical therapists’ daily experiences show there is a link between unresolved trauma and future traumas. That’s what “Blonde”shows — Monroe needed acceptance and love, but what she got were abuse and exploitation. She couldn’t even live as her real self — what began as a stage name became her “real” face, hiding the traumatized Norma Jean for decades.
Probably the most controversial part of “Blonde”is the graphic portrayal of her abortions and a song that one of her unborn children sings to her. They are controversial because, in part, like the rape and attempted drowning scenes, the movie is unnecessarily horrifying. But they are also controversialbecause many believe the abortions make the film political in light of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
But abortion isn’t political for the mother; it’s a human issue that affects real people. For example, a recent national survey of women who experience medication abortions found that 40 percent of women’s self-image changed after the abortion. About one in 14 of these women’s perspectives changed for the better, but 86 percent saw negative self-image changes. This was true regardless of their view about abortion, as 75 percent of women in the survey identified as pro-choice.
Like Monroe in “Blonde’s”portrayal, the people who attend Support After Abortion’s healing conferences and contact our anonymous After Abortion Line deal with lifelong traumas that often played a significant role in their abortion(s). Significant financial and relationship challenges are rarely one-time issues, and a 2005 Guttmacher Institute survey shows that 73 percent of women who had abortions did so because they couldn’t afford a child, and 48 percent were having relationship problems or didn’t want to be a single mother.
Unresolved traumas like sexual abuse, addiction and abandonment are often at the heart of these challenges. But while Americans accept that these traumas present themselves in our lives in ways like alcoholism, divorce and depression, we neglect to include abortion as a symptom of trauma because it is viewed as a political issue — not a problem with real people behind it.
Trauma defined Norma Jean’s life to the point where she hid behind an entirely different persona. That seems extreme — but how many Norma Jeans hide behind Marilyn Monroe faces in our churches, at the grocery store, or at Christmas parties? How often are we putting on a good face to the world to avoid condemnation or alienation or the pain of past traumas?
Abortion is a human issue, not a political one. It often comes from trauma and, as research shows, leads to more trauma. In Norma Jean’s case, the Marilyn Monroe mask only held for so long; she died of a drug overdose at 36 in what was deemed a possible suicide. It’s time to see the faces of millions of women whom research and the famous Turnaway Study find are suffering from abortion-related trauma.
As the 35th Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month comes to a close, a diverse coalition of pro-life, pro-choice, and mental health voices are calling upon America’s medical, religious, and political leaders to acknowledge that abortion is also pregnancy loss.
“Each year, nearly a million men and women experience an abortion,” said Lisa Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker and CEO of the abortion healing group Support After Abortion. “We know from the Guttmacher Institute that most abortions happen out of deep fear; and our new research indicates that millions of women aren’t able to fully acknowledge and embrace their loss because abortion healing is not considered a mental health priority.”
“I’m pro-choice,” said Mary Lamia, Ph.D., a doctoral professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California and a Psychology Today contributor. “But as I wrote in a recent post, the research is clear that men often silently suffer after abortion because they feel they do not have a right to grieve. Abortion loss is real, and the mental health community must acknowledge it in order to provide the best care to clients.”
“Grief, anger, and other adverse impacts from pregnancy loss are normal, no matter how the loss happens,” said Dr. John Bruchalski, who founded a pro-life OB-GYN practice after performing abortions in medical school. “I’ve delivered several thousandbabies over the last 28 years, and I’ve never seen anyone pretend like child loss isn’t devastating – except when it comes to elective abortion.”
“It is healthy and helpful to allow parents to express, feel, and name their emotions,” continued Bruchalski, whose book Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicinewas released this month. “And while elective abortion is a different type of pregnancy loss than a miscarriage or stillbirth, it is still a loss which leaves many women and men struggling to reconcile what happened, how they feel, and how to move forward.”
“In over 15 years as a priest doing pastoral work in parishes and schools, I’ve had many men and women come to me about pregnancy loss,” said Father Bjorn Lundberg, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Virginia. “Abortion is a different kind of loss than miscarriage or stillbirth; and it therefore requires a different pastoral approach. But our society does a disservice to women and men by not giving people grieving after abortion the chance to embrace their pain, acknowledge what happened, and heal.”
”Women and men who have lost children through abortion suffer deeply and, too often, alone,” said Arina Grossu a Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. “There are many programs and ministries to offer support after a pregnancy loss from an abortion. We, as the community, must also accompany people in their physical, psychological, and emotional journey toward healing and wholeness after an abortion.”
Support After Abortion’s healing resources are available online for women and men who desire anonymous, compassionate, and individualized healing after abortion.
About Support After Abortion
Support After Abortion is an abortion healing organization which promotes compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create gold-standard care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts.
In a recent conversation on our AFTER ABORTION LINE, an international hotline women and men contact for support after abortion experience(s), a woman shared the shame and loneliness she felt in having told her friends she had a miscarriage when she actually had an abortion. She was immediately wrapped in the comfort, attention and care she so desperately needed. But, each kind word, story, meal and gift of remembrance created a bigger gap – a greater emptiness. Out of fear of judgment, she had hidden the truth of her loss experience and her complicated feelings of relief alongside regret, sadness, guilt and anxiety.
As a licensed clinical social worker, I have heard versions of this story more times than I could count, yet it never ceases to tug at my heart. While our culture is growing increasingly more supportive of women who suffer a miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, it is still a type of disenfranchised grief forgotten or ignored by others. Therapists recognize the trauma miscarriage(s) can induce and are prepared to offer help to work through those feelings and emotions with clients. But if a man or woman has abortion experience(s), that conversation is entirely different.
Some in our culture are pushing to destigmatize abortion, citing statistics that one in four women will have an abortion by the time they are 45, that abortion is normal “healthcare,” that women don’t suffer any negative mental or emotional side effects afterwards, and that women need abortion to achieve their dreams. The only accurate statement here is how commonly abortion happens. Everything else is not true. Yet this is exactly what women are reading in most mainstream media outlets, all over social media, at their schools, and even in some churches.
Because of these voices, many women who are feeling anger, resentment, shame, hopelessness, fear, or even despair following their abortion don’t seek healing. They don’t even know help exists. At Support After Abortion, where I serve as CEO, offering resources for hope and healing after abortion and connecting those who need healing to those who provide healing is our goal. We equip healing providers, counselors, clinicians, and other leaders with the tools they need to help women and men heal from abortion experiences. We offer religious and secular healing resources and have commissioned research studies to understand what people who need healing are looking for. We create curriculum, resources, webinars, training, and anonymous self-guided healing options – all with compassion and without judgment.
One of the common denominators of people in need of healing following abortion experience(s) is their desire for secular healing programs. While many identify as Christian, almost three-quarters don’t attend religious services regularly and only 16% want a religious healing curriculum. While our faith guides our passion and work, we are here to connect individuals to whatever healing options meet their needs now. As one of our board members said, “It’s possible that farther down the road of their healing experience they may be drawn to God or a deeper faith. But, our role today is to help them begin to find hope, healing, and peace at this stage in their journey.”
The other common denominator amongst people who are looking for help following abortion(s) is that they have no idea where to turn, or they didn’t know after-abortion healing resources existed. Our published research revealed that 82% of people impacted by abortion don’t know where to go for healing. That’s a vast number – millions of hurting people. We don’t know why this is exactly, but we believe it is because they have been told that abortion is so normal that there is no need for healing. A client shared that their reason for seeking healing a decade after this abortion experience was because they felt alone between people who judged them and others who said there was no life at all to mourn.
Why should women and men who have experienced abortion seek healing in the first place? I think the biggest reason is that, of the number of abortions that occur in this country, almost half involve women who have already had at least one previous abortion. We know from our research that more than 34% of women suffer adverse mental and emotional side effects from abortion. And, I see in my clients everyday that hurt people make trauma-informed decisions they may not otherwise have made. What if we reached them and helped them to heal from their abortion experience? Would we be able to prevent repeat abortions for men and women who desire to break cycles in their life? I think so.
There are ample resources for emotional healing from trauma, as there should be. But abortion is also trauma-inducing, and while resources exist for abortion healing, most people have no idea they exist. Sometimes they don’t even recognize they’re hurting. Sometimes, they also don’t feel they have the right to seek out those healing resources for many reasons: some feel guilty, some feel that they made their decision and have no right grieve, others listen to our culture and believe that their feelings don’t matter after their abortion. Everyone deserves a chance to heal from trauma. Everyone. Support After Abortion was founded to establish the gold standard for a readily accessible network of compassionate and evidence-based care that includes giving women and men permission to grieve their loss(es). This is the entire reason we exist and it’s my deepest hope that the stigma around talking about the need to heal from abortion is broken and people feel the freedom to seek out that healing.
Lisa Rowe, LCSW, is CEO of Support After Abortion.
Research shows that 34% of women suffer adverse mental and emotional side effects from abortion. As the CEO of Support After Abortion and a licensed clinical social worker, our culture has a responsibility to acknowledge the complex emotions of relief, grief, regret, anxiety and sadness experienced in abortion that is often invalidated or unseen.
Thirty-four years ago, President Ronald Reagan and Congress named October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Their goal was “to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies” and to raise awareness of how to “meet the needs of bereaved parents.”
A tired old trope seems to keep resurfacing in the abortion debate.
“You have no empathy (for women),” a woman told Live Action founder Lila Rose, who was discussing abortion on The Dr. Phil Show. Rose, unruffled, replied that “abortion is devastating to a woman’s mental health. Nobody talks about it.” She was going to say more, but, ironically, she was cut off by the same audience member who a moment earlier had accused her of lacking care and empathy for women.