Defining trauma and understanding its symptoms
Greg Hasek has a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and has been a licensed counselor for more than 20 years. Many men come to him for help in handling sex addiction but he started abortion recovery work in 2004 after realizing that around 40% of his patients also had an abortion decision in their past that contributed to their current behavior. Because of that focus, Hasek has unique insights into the symptoms of men who have experienced abortion and best practices to aid men in recovery and healing from that trauma.
Trauma and its symptoms
Hasek explains that trauma is “any event that happens to you that catches you off guard, that is overwhelming and too much for your ability to cope.”
Trauma causes a host of symptoms, some severe like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms of trauma can also also be pieces of PTSD like anxiety, numbing of emotions, intrusive thoughts, and shock, especially when someone finds out about a crisis pregnancy.
An unplanned pregnancy can be a moment of shock for both the man and the woman. Even prior to abortion, this kind of shock would fall under the definition of trauma. Men who have experienced trauma in their past could be triggered by a crisis pregnancy and exhibit anger, withdraw into themselves, or relapse back into an addiction as their presenting symptoms of trauma.
Abortion trauma affects men and women differently
Physically, women are affected by abortion in totally different ways from men for obvious reasons. Medical abortion is a physically intrusive procedure for women, can be a painful experience, and even cause physical harm to their bodies. During the surgical abortion at a clinic, they cannot escape what is happening and feel trapped.
For a man, when they first find out their partner is pregnant, that moment could induce symptoms of trauma. When they are sitting in that clinic waiting room, they are unable to fight for their partner and child. Men are designed to be protectors and providers and they cannot fulfill that role when an abortion happens.
“When a male walks out of the abortion clinic…they were not able to act on their fight. Women walking out were not able to act on their flight,” said Hasek. “Oftentimes I hear from men about how difficult it was to not provide and care for their partner going through that procedure and not be at their bedside while they were recovering so that’s very difficult to not live out that role again to take care of their partner.”
Chemical abortions are also traumatic
Research has shown a dramatic rise in medical abortions (when the pregnant woman takes pills to induce abortion at home early in pregnancy) in this country. This type of abortion is not without trauma.
For women experiencing a medical abortion, oftentimes at home and even alone, the physical trauma is not insignificant. There is intense pain and cramping and the action of bleeding and expelling tissue, blood, and the embryo from their body can induce visual trauma. Men cannot intervene and feel helpless and may internalize their emotions, which could present themselves later on as addictions and other negative behavior.
The culture shuts men down
Today’s culture fails to validate men’s trauma – sex abuse, domestic violence, abortion. However, men are viewed as perpetrators of trauma, not victims. Their pain comes out in addictions or anger usually, giving society proof they can be dangerous.
“Their pain comes out in symptoms such as anger, addiction, and other issues. Because male trauma is not validated, their symptoms send a message to our culture that perpetuates the very belief culture has about men. Their trauma comes out in addiction and abuse….and they are seen as perpetrators of female trauma. This is a terrible cycle,” explains Hasek.
This is a serious and immediate need in our culture today, to validate men’s emotions, acknowledge their trauma, and help them find healing.
At Support After Abortion, we are developing new curriculums 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.
Healing Resources for men are available
Consumer research done by Support After Abortion reveals that nearly three-quarters of men will seek out help and healing within two years of abortion. But many have no idea where to go.
Even in Hasek’s established practice, men do not often come to him asking for help in healing from an abortion experience. They are asking for help with their sex addiction or their anger issues. But Hasek has found that 40% of his patients have an abortion in their past, sinking them deeper into their addictions.
Hasek works with men to deal with the root causes, including abortion, of the presenting symptoms to heal from past trauma so they do not relapse into harmful behaviors and emotional roller coasters. Leaders in healing ministries and clinical technicians and therapists need to get to the root of that anger and addiction that is contributing to their presenting problem of addiction.
“We as leaders need to look, if we are going to help men, is the most likely are not going to come forward with an abortion trauma as the presenting problem. We need to look at how we can make those correlations and tie back opportunities based on symptoms to help those men who have abortions in their history,” said Hasek.
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.