When Chris Rainey experienced an abortion decision with his then-girlfriend, now-wife in his 20s, he didn’t talk about it for 17 years. Neither of them did. They were young and felt they could not take care of a baby, like many people in that situation. But when the walls came down one night and he and his wife started talking about the abortion, he was shattered. He had no idea how broken his wife had felt about the abortion so many years earlier and he did not know what to do with his own feelings of brokenness.
His story is not uncommon. Current statistics show that one in every four women will have an abortion experience, which means one in every four men will also have experience with one, whether they know it or not. According to internal consumer research from Support After Abortion, many men who are aware of an abortion decision do seek out help but do not know where to go. Like Chris, they were facing difficult emotions and wanted to “fix” them as men like to do.
In his role on the men’s task force for healing at Support After Abortion and volunteer at a pregnancy center, he seeks to “equip other men who are where I was.” It’s a big job but he has seen the tremendous progress and healing men have experienced when they acknowledge the abortion decision and their negative feelings around it.
Men do show signs of hurt after abortion
Like other guests on the Support After Abortion podcast and Men’s Conference have said, Chris sees that men engage in all types of dysfunctional behavior after an abortion decision, often paralleling PTSD symptoms, engaging in substance abuse, and choosing activities that will help them forget the negative feelings stemming from the abortion decision.
When Chris works with men, acknowledging the feelings they are having is key.
They need to understand that all those feelings and emotions they are having are okay to have and normal. Then he turns their attention to ways of coping with those emotions that are not self-destructive. Support After Abortion has extensive content to help men who are wanting to explore healing from past abortion wounds at our website.
“We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, meaning that if we have something that is bothering us, we stuff it back down time after time. It doesn’t make it go away. Getting it out, talking about it, and getting a different perspective can dilute the negative emotions associated with that negative decision,” said Chris.
Practical Ways to Connect with Men
Chris seeks to connect with men who have experienced an abortion decision and he certainly has his own ways of doing it, which he describes as an “ambush.” He volunteers in a pregnancy resource center and often has the opportunity to talk with men when they come for STD testing. He asks the abortion question soon after the small talk is over and while it often takes the men off guard, they always continue the conversation.
Many of the men Chris works with are many years past the abortion experience and have very similar reasons for choosing abortion that he did. He encourages them to follow the PART method.
P stands for Prayer. He encourages men to consider opening that door for prayer, even if they haven’t done so in a long time.
A stands for Associate. Chris encourages men to associate with like-minded and trusted individuals. Most men do not want to sit down in a circle and talk about feelings. They are more comfortable doing physical activities
R stands for Read. Chris has many books he recommends to men on a healing journey from abortion, including a book called “Deadly Emotions,” which runs through the negative effects of emotions on the body and vice versa. It’s a great book to motivate men to
T stands for Think, as in change your thinking in order to change your life. When a negative thought comes up, switch it up immediately to come up with something positive. Chris says humans are not wired to have two conflicting emotions simultaneously. When a negative thought comes up, he encourages men to replace it immediately with a thought of thanksgiving.
“There is healing and they can be set free from the guilt they are feeling,” Chris said.
A message for Pregnancy Centers
Most pregnancy centers either do not have a healing program for men or have a very minimal one. Yet men are hurting from abortion, too.
Chris has some advice for pregnancy centers looking to start a healing program for men:
“Start your day with the fact that for every abortion, a man is involved. There are men around who have experienced abortion who are just as hurt as women are, but in different ways.”
He suggests to ask women about the male when they come in for abortion counseling as well. While men can be hard to reach, Chris encourages pregnancy centers to plant that seed with the woman that she can share with the father. Or have a private conversation with the man if he is with her. Offer him help if or when he starts to have negative emotions following an abortion decision.
Chris is also the author of “Healing the Father: Emotional and Spiritual Freedom for the Post-Abortive Man”, where he lays out his abortion story and offers healing resources for men in similar situations. Additionally, he created a study as a companion guide to walk through the healing process either individually or with a trusted companion for men.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by abortion, you are not alone. Call or text our confidential hopeline at 844-289-HOPE (4673). Women, this is your call: if your partner, male loved one or friend has had an abortion, visit us at www.supportafterabortion.com to learn how to create a safe space, and create dialogue so more men can receive hope and healing after abortion.