Connection, Collaboration and Exploring Options for Abortion Recovery

Connection, Collaboration and Exploring Options for Abortion Recovery

Carolyn Fransden, Program Coordinator for Support After Abortion and Wendy Gianocola discover how to connect and and collaborate on abortion healing during the pandemic.

Wendy Gianocola is the author of, Transforming Your Story: A Path to Healing After Abortion and she serves as the Director of Pregnancy Loss at at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, in Washington D.C. Wendy’s passion to help guide others through their abortion healing came from her own experience. When she was 19 years old, Wendy had an abortion. After her abortion, Wendy experienced symptoms of shame and regret and struggled with addiction as well that come along with having an abortion. She spent years trying to hide, ignore and push her abortion experience down. After many years of struggling, Wendy started healing from abortion and began working in the pregnancy center, where she has now been for 11 years.

As previously mentioned, Wendy is the author of Transforming Your Story: A Path to Healing After Abortion. Wendy states, that “this book involves using both hemispheres of the brain, with the combination of words and action steps to complete.” It is important when healing from abortion to utilize both sides of the brain, with both stories and action steps. This way those healing not just read about healing, but the action steps teach the reader how to live that healing out in their daily life. Readers, such as Carolyn Fransden, found this abortion recovery method to be extremely helpful for her abortion recovery. Both Carolyn and Wendy stress the importance of going through multiple abortion healing programs.  They know, healing is not a “one size fits all”, so going through different programs, that offer different methods will increase healing, and will help those impacted by abortion continue to peel back different layers that lay underneath the surface.

Maintaining Connection and Increasing Collaboration for Abortion Healing during the Pandemic

The pandemic certainly slowed everyone and everything down, and those involved in the a new movement that embraces and prioritizes healing men and women from abortion.Abortion Recovery Movement had to stop to think about how to continue to help those heal while not having face to face contact. Support After Abortion was able to offer Virtual Support Groups. The virtual groups include specific abortion recovery groups, but also have healing groups for those impacted by codependency, miscarriage and sexual trauma. Another group, offered by Support After Abortion, that both Carolyn and Wendy find impactful is, Unraveled Roots.  In a collaborative effort to increase the amount of healing Support After Abortion delivers, Wendy herself, is a facilitator of the Unraveled Roots group and states, “I love facilitating the Unraveled Roots group because it inspires people to live a transforming life of hope. You can heal from an abortion while simultaneously healing from other issues, such as abandonment and addiction.”

Another method of connection, is the memorial service. When a man or woman completes an abortion recovery group it is important to end this experience with honoring their children and give their child an identity and dignity. At Support After Abortion, during the last day of the group, the facilitator will go to a local Florida church and plant flowers for each child, as a symbol of hope and healing. Due to the fact that not everyone can travel, and Ipad is taken, so that each group participate can watch and be a part of honoring their lost child. This has become a beautiful closing to the group, and a sincere comfort to those who are in the abortion recovery process.

April is Abortion Recovery Month. If you or someone you know has been impacted by abortion, you are not alone. Please visit our website if you are experiencing feelings of guilt and shame after an abortion, and ways to get involved at https://supportafterabortion.com. To speak with someone about beginning a virtual group or to be linked with services in your area please call our Hopeline, at 844-289-HOPE (4673).

More Collaboration Brings More Healing After Abortion

More Collaboration Brings More Healing After Abortion

Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion and founder of Arise Daughter, Sylvia Blakely discuss Sylvia’s journey and the importance of collaboration to increase support for those seeking healing after abortion.

The impact of the Abortion Healing Process that led her to Arise Daughter

The impact of Sylvia’s abortion first led her to seek forgiveness from God. She asked for and received forgiveness with a grateful heart, however there was a part of her that still did not feel free. While working at a pregnancy center in Ohio, Sylvia would travel to neighboring counties to teach abstinence to adolescents. She was equipped for this season in her life, and comfortable in her role as an abstinence educator.

However she became acutely aware of aspects of her position and life, she was not comfortable with where she did not feel free. For example,

    • Sylvia could not walk into the ultrasound room
    • She could not participate in counseling sessions that took place with those who were pregnant and afraid of what to do next.
    • Sylvia also began to notice she could not stand up on Mother’s Day during mass, even against the urging of her godchildren.

 

God was nudging Sylvia to be more uncomfortable, to go deeper. In October 2019, she resigned from her position within the pregnancy center and in April 2020, completed her healing from abortion group. From that moment on, with humility and grace, she has taken the next step that God has asked and guided her to take. She attended the July Support After Abortion Conference and in November of 2020 launched Arise Daughter. Arise Daughter helps men and women seeking healing from abortion, offers help with developing or refining a training, and also offers ministry opportunities for those wanting to serve.

Working Collaboratively to grow Capacity for more Abortion Healing

As mentioned above, Sylvia attended the Virtual Support After Abortion Conference in 2020. It was here, she became inspired and connected with Support After Abortion’s vision to collaborate with leaders throughout the world on abortion healing.

Sylvia follows the example of Jesus to build capacity. Jesus was open and welcoming to all. He dispensed hope for those who needed it most, and empowered those who wanted to serve Him with the steps to take towards healing with love. We all need to follow the example of Jesus so that we can continue to expand and increase the capacity of abortion recovery resources. As Lisa stated, “when we work collaboratively, we grow our capacity.

 

“If we are not collaborating and not increasing our capacity, we become exclusive and comfortable. God does not want us to be exclusive and comfortable, rather wants us to use our gifts, and experiences and reach as many people we can that need healing. We cannot reach a large capacity of people without the collaboration of leaders

 

From Condemnation to Compassion in Abortion Healing.

Support After Abortion’s vision is to end the demand for abortion by healing those impacted by abortion. To that end, Lisa leads efforts to collaborate with leaders in abortion healing, just like Sylvia Blakey, to build capacity for healing. In the 48 years since Roe v Wade over 60 million people have been impacted by abortion. If only 1% of those who need healing came forward, we do not have enough abortion healing capacity to meet their needs.

Support After Abortion would like to a see shift in our culture. The pro-life movement can no longer be about condemnation, but rather compassion. People cannot change unless they first know you care for them, so shifting the culture to more compassion and love will help those who need healing, or those facing the decision of abortion vs. parenthood, come forward and receive the support they need.

Second, we need to get creative. To make sure future generations are engaged we need to change our style of marketing and media; even if that means making a TikTok. If you see yourself as a leader, or want to start to get involved in the abortion recovery movement, register for the upcoming Support After Abortion Virtual Conference in March and become inspired to help men and women start to heal.

If you or someone you know is struggling from the impact of abortion, please reach out. You are not alone and resources can be found here at SupportAfterAbortion.com or contact our helpline at 844-289-HOPE (4673). If you like Sylvia are looking for more information, or ways to get involved, please register for the Support After Abortion Virtual Conference.

The Far-Reaching Impacts of Abortion on Relationships

The Far-Reaching Impacts of Abortion on Relationships

Theresa Bonopartis, Director of Lumina: Hope and Healing After Abortion and Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, discuss the far-reaching impacts of abortion on women and their relationships.

 

The Impacts of Abortion are Life-altering

When Theresa was a teenager, she was coerced to have an abortion by her father. She recounts the painful experience of delivering her deceased son and watching the nurse place him in a jar with a label marked 3A. At that moment, Theresa shares, “I immediately hated myself. I wanted to jump out of the window of the maternity ward.” She also shares that she went into “destructive mode” soon after—“A downward spiral of promiscuity and toxic relationships—one of which was a marriage to an alcohol and drug abuser.” Theresa attributes many of her poor life choices to her low self-esteem. Theresa hated herself for what she had done and felt she got what she deserved. She confessed that she most likely would have stayed in the toxic relationship if it weren’t for her children. Her children’s safety, not her own, is what prompted her to leave.

Theresa sought healing multiple times but could either not find a program that suited her or was met with disregard.

 

“I felt crazy. I was struggling with my emotions, yet society was sending the message that Abortion was an acceptable choice.”

 

She remembers confessing to a counselor that her previous abortion experience was really bothering her, only to be dismissed and told that it just wasn’t so. It took Theresa 15 long years before she found healing after abortion.

 

Abortion Impacts Families and Children

Theresa shares that “With 3,000 abortions a day, we don’t even realize the astronomical impact abortion has on our lives.” Abortion has seeped its way into virtually every family. While we are just beginning to talk about abortion as a society, it’s not uncommon for families to be living with the impacts of abortion without even realizing it exists within their family. Theresa reveals, “There are many ways an unhealed abortion experience can manifest—intimacy struggles, substance abuse, or even detachment.” A husband may have no idea his wife experienced abortion or vice versa.

Theresa’s ministry, Lumina, specializes in providing healing retreats for the surviving siblings. She shares that it is not uncommon for siblings to have difficulty coping with the news of their parents’ abortion. They often have so many questions but are afraid to ask for fear of intensifying their parents’ suffering. Theresa shares common struggles of siblings include extreme guilt and confusion. Siblings tend to question their existence, wondering, “Why am I here and my sibling is not?”

Layered Abortion Healing

Both Theresa and Lisa agree that healing comes in layers. One healing program is not enough. To be fully healed, leaders need to continue to unlayer their previous trauma. If leaders don’t care for themselves, their ability to lead will greatly impact and most likely result in burnout. When asked what advice she would give to a leader in the abortion healing ministry feeling fatigued, Theresa responds with two suggestions.

First, Theresa shares that she spends a few hours in prayer each day. Theresa finds her quiet time with God allows her to give the weight that comes with the work directly to God. By giving it to Him, she doesn’t carry the heaviness. She also spends hours in prayer seeking God’s guidance as she operates within her ministry. Seeking His wise counsel leads her on the correct paths.

Second, get involved in on-going healing. Support After Abortion offers a variety of virtual healing groups, some of which are even beneficial for those who haven’t experienced abortion. One example of such a healing group is Unraveled Roots. This book, authored by two of Support After Abortion staff (CEO Lisa Rowe and Director of Programming Karin Barbito) and Melinda Means, can help individuals heal from childhood trauma. The virtual group and resource help participants uncover the hidden roots that are responsible for their damaging behaviors.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling after abortion, we are here to help. Contact us. You are not alone.

Reproductive Loss: The Striking Similarities Between Abortion and Miscarriage

Reproductive Loss: The Striking Similarities Between Abortion and Miscarriage

Heidi Inlow, Operations Coordinator of Support After Abortion, and Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion, discuss the striking similarities between abortion and miscarriage. Together they address what leaders within the abortion recovery movement need to do to improve their capacity to serve those impacted by miscarriage loss.

Like Abortion, No One is Talking About Miscarriage

Just as 1 in 4 women will experience abortion by 45, 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage. Although these two occurrences affect 50% of women, very little is spoken of either one. “Just as we need to begin talking about abortion, we need to begin having conversations about miscarriage too. We need to bring it up with our children, and we need to speak about it from the pulpit,” says Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion. Lisa addresses the importance of church leadership’s involvement when she shares, “Because men are involved in an abortion experience and a miscarriage, this means 50% of a church congregation have been impacted by loss.” If the church is a place for the broken and the sick, it is time the difficult conversations are had, and those who are suffering are freed.

Heidi shares that while doctors treat miscarriage, they don’t speak to the emotional trauma. In Heidi’s experience, she was told her miscarriage was “normal” and felt like the medical community “brushed off” the experience. The medical community labels miscarriage as “reproductive loss,” grouping it with other types of loss, including abortion, stillbirth, and adoption. Heidi shared, “Although it’s normal for physicians to treat miscarriage, we women are leaving their offices broken.

Where Do You Find Healing for Abortion and Miscarriage Loss?

Based on Support After Abortion’s consumer research, we know that 9 out of 10 women don’t know where to go for healing. It is much the same for those who have experienced miscarriage. While Heidi shares that there are books available, she comments, “Most of the resources are long—some 250 pages—or 30-week plans. What is missing is a specific resource that centers on a very clear conversation of ‘this is what happened to me, and this is how it affected me.’” Both Heidi and Lisa agree that collaboration with the medical community is needed. “If we equip doctors’ offices and pregnancy centers with a beginner-level resource that discusses miscarriage, helps women to express their emotions, and introduces them to healing programs, maybe it wouldn’t take people 22 years to seek healing as it did for me,” adds Heidi.

Support After Abortion has partnered with the organization Life Perspectives to provide a virtual healing group for miscarriage. Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe shares, “The book, Hope After Loss, does meet the needs of some in that it is a first step in the journey of healing, but we need more resources for those who have experienced miscarriage.

The Unraveled Roots

Just as 1 in 4 women will experience abortion by the age of 45 and 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage, it should be noted that 1 in 4 women experience sexual abuse. It is not uncommon to see the roots of sexual abuse in the stories of women who have experienced abortion and or miscarriage. Why do women who experience sexual abuse also seem to experience miscarriage or abortion? It is not uncommon for the lack of control one feels in a sexual abuse situation to carry into other aspects of life. Many abortion decisions are the result of external pressures.

Heidi shares that while she initially enrolled in the virtual healing group Unraveled Roots to learn about the program she would be offering clients, she ended up learning more about herself and her healing journey. As a result of the unlayering of previous hurts, Heidi has made connections to her behaviors and past experiences. “I realize now that an issue I had with a volunteer in my workplace was actually connected to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. His interactions with me triggered the emotions I felt as a child when I had no control and was silenced. Through my healing, I’ve also been able to have greater insight as to why I parent the way I do and why I experienced detachment with my firstborn daughter.” As a result of her healing, Heidi now has more control of her responses and reactions—she has more awareness and understanding of why she might feel the way she does.

The Impacts of Miscarriage

Abortion and miscarriage share many of the same emotional impacts: guilt, shame, regret, relief, detachment, and the pain that spiders into other areas of one’s life. Lisa shares, “Heidi’s story is so common—a church-going woman, raised by church-going parents, was sexually abused and it was ignored. When Heidi got pregnant outside of marriage, she felt guilt and shame. When Heidi’s pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage, she kept the secret for 30 years, suffering in silence—just as she had with her sexual abuse experience.

Conclusion

With such similarities between abortion and miscarriage, Inlow and Rowe of Support After Abortion believe there a series of steps leaders in the abortion healing movement need to take to improve their capacity to serve. First, there need to be conversations about miscarriage and abortion. These conversations need to happen within our culture, the medical community, and our churches. There is also a need for resources and healing programs for miscarriage in particular. Collaboration with medical professionals in the placement of resources would equip clients with the steps needed for healing.

If you or someone you know has experienced reproductive loss through abortion or miscarriage, we are here to help. Contact us today or enroll in one of our virtual healing groups.

Grief: The Missing Step in Abortion Healing

Grief: The Missing Step in Abortion Healing

Trudy Mae Johnson, Founder of Missing Pieces and author, and Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion, identify the missing step in grief through abortion healing. These experts discuss the importance of grief validation, the dangers of dismissing it, and how Trudy’s resource fills in the gaps.

The Importance of Grief Validation
There is little understanding of abortion grief or abortion healing in clinical psychology. Lisa Rowe, a licensed clinical therapist shares, “There was absolutely no mention of abortion in any of my training or education. I didn’t even read a single case study on the topic. Even the manual therapists use to treat people has no reference to the topic of abortion.” Trudy Johnson shares that perhaps the clinical world doesn’t validate grief because the word abortion has become inextricably linked to politics. In light of abortion, clinicians typically don’t seem to see grief as a heart issue but rather as a political one. If most clinicians were able to separate the topic of abortion from its politics, they might be more likely to validate the individual’s grief and need for healing. Lisa agrees, “Because abortion is so political, we are immediately forced to choose a side and therefore can’t meet people in a human way.

The Dangers of Dismissing Abortion Grief
When Trudy Johnson sought healing after her abortion, her therapist not only dismissed her grief but callously instructed her to “Go home and get over it. After all, abortion is legal.” As one might expect, such an encounter left Trudy feeling alienated. Trudy vulnerably shares,

It almost pushed me over the edge. I was already depressed and suicidal. [After my therapist dismissed my grief] my nightmares worsened, and I felt like I was going crazy.

Trudy struggled with her abortion grief for five years before she found an abortion healing support group. Her negative experience thwarted her healing process. Lisa adds, “Despite all our progress with mental health in recent years, the abortion healing movement has been stalled due to its political nature.”

How Trudy Johnson’s Resource Fills in the Gaps
While many clinicians and therapists treat individuals based on what they think is right, Trudy Johnson’s resource, C.P.R.: Choice Processing and Resolution, addresses trauma with evidence-based practices. Trudy’s resource creates a safe place for individuals to open up and share. One unique feature of Johnson’s resource is that there is no mention of the word abortion. She shares, “The word abortion is triggering, political, and condemning.” Johnson also notes she has found it typically takes 9 hours of feeling safe with a trusted person before an individual is comfortable discussing their abortion experience. In an effort to meet individuals where they are in their stage of grief, Johnson coined the term “Voluntary Pregnancy Termination” or VPT to replace the word abortion. The term VPT does not endorse abortion. Instead, the term VPT removes the political connotation and helps individuals to feel comfortable sharing their experience. Once individuals feel comfortable to share about their abortion experiences, they can then begin to connect with the emotions they are feeling. An individual who can connect with their emotions is better prepared for an abortion healing group’s benefits.

If you or someone you know is struggling after abortion, we can help. Contact us. Sign up for a number of virtual healing groups, including a group led by author Trudy Mae Johnson.

The Importance of Self-Care for Leaders

The Importance of Self-Care for Leaders

Support After Abortion is founded on the pillars of compassion, collaboration, and capacity. We strive to humanize abortion through stories of compassion, and we work to unite leaders and organizations through collaboration within the abortion healing movement. We believe the health and wellbeing of leaders in the healing industry is important as it impacts their ability or capacity to serve. Matt Ingold of Metanoia Catholic shares a powerful self-care tool for all leaders, whether they be the leaders of their home or leaders in the abortion healing movement.

Compassion fatigue and burnout are real

“As leaders in the industry, we are aware that compassion fatigue and burnout are real,” says Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe. Self-care for leaders is critical. How often leaders help others but not themselves. How often they show up with excellence in their workplaces, yet there is struggle in other areas of their lives. Whether leaders realize it or not, they may be giving and serving from a place of depletion. They may want to pour into their clients and their ministry, but as Matt Ingold shares, “We can’t give what we don’t have.” Ingold presents a solution with his Metanoia Catholic journal, a practice that helps leaders to care for themselves in a way that fills them up, so they have enough to serve others.

Ingold and his wife created the Metanoia Catholic journal to help individuals become more aware of what is going on inside themselves. Ingold shares, “So often we think our circumstances are what guide our negative thoughts, but in actuality, it’s more about our thought life. Our emotions and habits come from our thoughts, and we tend to forget that we have the authority to choose what we think, how we feel, and the way in which we show up.” Taking authority over our thoughts and how we choose to respond improves the ways in which we interact with others and ourselves. Taking negative thoughts captive is like selecting the seed we plant and allow to take root and grow. The question is, are we choosing to plant seeds of scarcity or abundance? We have the power and free will to decide; the Metanoia Catholic journal shows us how.Healing and Growth are not “one and done”

As leaders in the abortion healing industry, we know that healing comes in layers. Like healing, growth is an ongoing process. Ingold shares that this journal isn’t just another New Year’s resolution. He adds, “Satan doesn’t sleep. There is no time to be complacent—the enemy is always lurking, waging a battle in which he wants us to forget who we are and who our father is.” If Satan can get inside of our heads, he can do damage. He can distract us or pull us away from our calling. For this reason, intentionality in our thought life is of the utmost importance. The Metanoia Catholic journal helps us to recognize our negative, reoccurring thoughts because those thoughts spill into all areas of our lives, including leadership. Once we can recognize our negative reoccurring thoughts, the journal’s skills and strategies will help us take that thought captive by sending “antibodies” to attack and destroy it. Taking such thoughts captive, catching them before they can multiply and wreak havoc, is a freeing, healthy practice.

Because we know that “healed people, heal people,” as leaders, we want to be sure that we are always pursuing our personal growth and development. The Metanoia Catholic journal weaves together the healthy practice of journaling with the tools and skills of raising self-awareness for our thoughts. Leaders are role models to clients and their ministries because they live examples of what healed looks like. Leaders are entrusted with much, so much is expected, and self-care needs to be expected. The self-care of a leader impacts the leader’s ability or capacity to serve others.

As a leader, if you’d like to learn how Support After Abortion supports and develops leaders, please visit our Healing Network Partner page and join us for an upcoming webinar.

Are you struggling after abortion? We are here to help. Contact us.