The influential role of men in an abortion decision and how they best heal from abortion
Men are highly influential over their partner’s decision on whether or not to keep the baby, whether they know this or not. Research shows about 80% of women say they would not have had an abortion if they had a supportive partner.
“It’s a shocking number,” said Greg Hasek, who has more than 20 years of experience as a licensed clinician helping men heal from trauma, addiction, and abortion. “Men in our culture have bought into this idea that we don’t have a choice, that we don’t have influence [over their partner’s decision] – but they do.”
Ways that men have influence on an abortion decision
Men have influence on the abortion decision when they support or encourage their partner. This usually includes some kind of acquiescence of the decision by the man, often when they say to her that they will support her either way.
“They won’t stand up and say what they really feel. Men think they are being loving by asking their partner what they would like to do or to say that they will support her in whatever decision she makes,” said Hasek.
Love is not doing whatever his partner wants and in many cases, this is what not women are looking for. In reality, this is not a loving approach taken by the man, who feels that it’s not his decision as culture has drilled into society. Women recovering from abortion often say that if only her partner would have said yes to having the baby, yes to stepping into the role of a father and supportive partner, she would have made a different decision.
Women want a leader and men need to take that leadership role in the relationship by standing up and saying they will get through this together and make it work somehow.
Another way men influence the abortion decision is when they pressure their partner. This is the angle culture zooms in on. How often have you seen a movie or television show or read a book where the man threatens to leave the woman if she doesn’t have the abortion or even offers financial assistance to “take care of the problem”?
“Women are very fearful of the loss of that relationship and oftentimes will choose that relationship over keeping their child because they don’t want to lose that relationship,” said Hasek.
Men experience pain from abortions, too
Research from Support After Abortion indicates that more than 22 million men in the United States have been affected by abortion and half felt they didn’t have a voice in the decision.
“The most painful way a man experiences an abortion decision is when his partner tells him about the abortion after it happens. For a man to be told afterwards that their child was aborted, imagine the trauma a male experiences,” explains Hasek. “The whole way a man is wired is to provide and protect for that child and now they are being told that child is gone. It’s very traumatic for them. In fact, I see, when that happens, men tend to have the worst symptoms….like post traumatic stress disorder, anger, helplessness, addictions.”
Men experience abortion in significantly different ways than women and while they don’t have physical wounds like women may, they can have traumatic emotional wounds that present as these symptoms that Hasek describes. Yet our culture tells men they should not be hurt by abortion, that is nothing to do with them.
But it does. They hurt, too, just in different ways.
The road to healing after abortion
As a trained clinician, Hasek assesses the presenting problems such as anger, addiction, or PTSD. Then he evaluates the symptoms, like intrusive thoughts about the child they could have had, or nightmares, or numbing of emotions to not feel the pain of the loss.
“We are treating the symptoms first, treating the addiction first, and oftentimes down the road, we get to the abortion experience and work through the forgiveness process and the grieving process,” said Hasek.
At Support After Abortion, we are developing new curriculms to help men heal from abortion with clinical experts like Greg Hasek. We are aiming to get at both the heart and mind of a man who has experienced abortion. We currently have extensive content to help men who are wanting to explore healing from past abortion wounds at our website.
Men heal differently than women
There are healing ministries available in many places around the country but men are not showing up. Yet we know through research from Support After Abortion that nearly three-quarters of men will seek out help and healing within two years of an abortion. But many have no idea where to go or if they do find a place that offers a healing program, it’s not something they feel comfortable going to. Men don’t go to support groups – they aren’t wired to sit down in a group and talk through their experiences.
Men looking for healing are finding that programs are using the same model of healing for them as they do for women, which is just not what they are looking for.
“Men tend to think through their grief, they are less likely to want to sit across the room and share their feelings like what a female support group would look like. Men are more experiential….the doing of things through experiences allows their right and left brain to integrate their emotions versus just talking,” said Hasek.
Hasek has found that men connect more with their emotions through physical activity like outdoor adventures or sports as well as the use of both audio and video, which helps to involve less of their left brain thinking and more of their right brain emotions.
For those who work in healing ministries and for those men who don’t know where to turn for help after an abortion experience, Support After Abortion is hosting experts like Greg Hasek at the Unraveling Roots of Men’s Trauma conference and his presentation is available to watch online. We’ll be exploring this issue of culture telling men they don’t need healing from abortion, as well as others that are overlooked when it comes to men healing from abortion trauma. They need to connect to their emotions in order to start healing and connection to feelings isn’t always easy 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.