Lisa Rowe, CEO for Support After Abortion, and author of Unchained, Dell Anderson discuss Dell’s journey through codependency, horrific pain after abortion, and how she was able to find joy again.

Dell has lived a difficult and hard life. At a very young age, she became responsible for caring for her ailing father. At the age of 15, Dell’s father passed away and she was determined to move far away and start the family she had always dreamed of having. Dell realizes now that caring for her father led her to never knowing what a healthy relationship with a healthy man should look like. Functioning in the role of caretaker, Dell tied her identity and value to how well she could rescue or fix someone else. This can be referred to as codependency. Codependency occurs when we become too closely intertwined with others, depending on them to provide our sense of value or purpose. It causes us to unconsciously be drawn to those who are similar to our parents. We look to others who we can help in order to continue to fill our ongoing need to feel valuable and important.

Dell was married by the age of 18. Shortly after, her husband was sent to Vietnam. He returned with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and when Dell found out she was pregnant, he left. Alone and pregnant, she moved again, and found herself in a new relationship. Dell thought she had found her “knight in shining armor.” The first night of the honeymoon, this facade faded and Dell was beaten within inches of her life by her new husband. Dell was scared, confused, disparaged and shattered. She spent the next three years running from him, only to be found and beaten several more times.

While Dell was able to get a divorce, she was wounded, ashamed and lacked identity or and value in herself.  It was during this time, she met another man and although she was hesitant, Dell eventually felt as though she had finally found the man God intended for her. They were married and planned on starting a family. At 24 weeks pregnant, Dell caught her husband having an affair. She remembers immediately thinking, “What is wrong with me, why am I so unlovable?” Dell felt she had nothing to live for, she wanted to die and thought the only option was abortion, because as she stated, “I was so unlovable that this child was better off without me.

Lisa understands the pain Dell experienced and she observed “that abortion can be a symptom of deeper roots.” Dell had experienced wounds of rejection, codependency, and abuse. These wounds, or roots, in conjunction with suicidal thoughts, depression and an absence of self worth led Dell to consider and decide to have an abortion.

The abortion procedure was extremely painful. Saline was injected into Dell’s womb, and she then went through an immensely painful labor to deliver her daughter. She recalls seeing her child in a pool of blood on the table. She went home and no longer wanted to live, she cut a slit into her wrists and felt like there was no hope for her.

Whether a woman has had a surgical abortion or a chemical abortion, also known as the abortion pill, the physical pain is much more intense than expected and women share they are traumatized after seeing their lifeless child. Like Dell, women who have had an abortion feel shame, regret, depression and sadness after their abortion.

Fortunately, Dell’s story does not end there. The abortion healing journey is an on-going journey in which men and women heal not only from the pain after abortion, but also heal from the pain of the past. The first step Dell took was rededicating her life back to God. She returned to church and it was here she found mercy and restoration from the Lord. To break free of the shackles of pain and trauma Dell was committed to an ongoing healing journey to find her value and self-worth. Support After Abortion, understands the need to go through multiple healing programs. Men and women, like Dell, start with an abortion healing group but then continue on this journey to heal past wounds through groups, such as, Unraveled Roots, and Codependency.

As Dell continued her abortion healing journey she found herself happy, but without joy. Dell recognized she needed to unravel and heal another layer of pain. She realized that she lacked joy because the image of her lifeless daughter was still constant in her mind. While attending an event at her church, Dell had a vision of her daughter laughing and dancing in Heaven with Jesus. She heard the Lord tell her, “From this day forward, no longer will you minister in pain, but you will minister out of your joy.” Dell was overwhelmed with joy after receiving this message, and felt she had received “real healing” that day.

While the healing was real for Dell, the journey was not over. She was invited to participate in another abortion healing group through Support After Abortion. Dell admits, she felt this was unnecessary, because she was “already healed.” To her surprise, she discovered another layer of pain, and realized in this moment, healing will always be an on-going journey. She states, “it can be painful to relive the abortion experience, but each next step leads to more forgiveness.

Perhaps her proudest healing moment is when she had the courage to name her daughter. Lisa was able to help Dell realize that naming your child is an important step while healing from abortion. It is a powerful step because it gives life and dignity to the child. After all the abuse, trauma, shame and pain after abortion, Dell named her daughter, the only name that seemed fitting….Joy.

If you or someone you know has experienced abortion, you’re not alone. Support After Abortion meets you where you are, with acceptance and without judgement. We talk to thousands of people who have experienced loss, regret, anger, depression and suicidal thoughts. If you’re ready to start your healing journey, we are here to help you confidentiality and anonymously. Call or text Support After Abortion at 1-844-289-HOPE, or visit our website for a complete list of virtual groups at