In today’s culture, boys are conditioned from a young age to suppress emotions, to never reveal weakness, and to hold back tears when faced with hurt or injuries. Yet, men certainly experience a range of intense emotions, both good and bad, and oftentimes do not know how to express those feelings after they have experienced something as traumatizing as abortion. It will come out in some way though, and mental health professionals should be aware of those symptoms and how to help in the healing process.
Men are so often shoved aside in the abortion debate because “they don’t have a uterus.” Women are front and center as if gender decides who may be allowed to hurt following an abortion. Often, men aren’t given a second thought when it comes to abortion. They aren’t allowed to feel anything, much less be hurt by it. Our culture tells men to get out of the picture when an abortion decision needs to be made and let women handle it. Yet abortion is devasting for both women and men, regardless of cultural acceptance, and the effects play out differently within individuals affected by the abortion decision.
Greg Hasek is a licensed clinician who specializes in sex addiction, trauma, and PTSD. He has extensive experience – more than 16 years’ worth – in recognizing the symptoms presented by men who have been affected by a past abortion experience and leading them on the path of healing from the addictions they often present as well as the abortion. He is one of our most trusted experts at Support After Abortion to help men heal from a past abortion experience and will be a featured speaker at the Unraveling Roots of Men’s Trauma conference and his presentation is available to watch online.
Hasek, knowing the lack of resources for men who have been hurt by abortion in some way, sought to figure out if there may be connections between sex addictions, past trauma, attachment issues, and abortion. Sure enough, he found that between 30 to 40 percent of his patients with sex addictions also had a past abortion experience. The connections were also apparent within patients who suffered some type of childhood trauma.
“Men, in terms of experiencing trauma or hurt, present differently than women. Oftentimes, they present through their symptoms, or act out their pain through their symptoms. So if we are going to say men don’t hurt from abortion in our culture, instead of looking for the evidence of the millions of men who had abortions but are not coming forward or showing that they hurt, we need to look differently for the evidence of their symptoms. And if we can say, maybe those symptoms tie back to the abortion experience then maybe we can say yes, there are more men hurting from abortion – it just looks differently,” Greg explains.
Men experience abortion differently than women and while both present some similar behaviors, men involved in an abortion decision, Hasek found, frequently present through anger or addiction. And the abortion decision usually exasperates the addiction. For example, if a man has a sex addiction, gets his girlfriend pregnant, and makes an abortion decision, that decision will almost always intensify the sex addiction. It may also cause attachment issues for him and his partner and even his future children. Between partners who have experienced abortion, 80% of them won’t stay together. Men can no longer attach to their partner, to their children, or even themselves.
Men typically bond with others on an emotional level through physical activity. With abortion, they never have that option with their unborn baby. Men are wired to have an attachment with their children and their partner. When an abortion happens, there is a critical attachment break. The trauma caused by abortion in men is very real and apparent and their needs are going to be naturally different than women in order to heal from the abortion.
At Support After Abortion, we are looking at new ways to approach the abortion decision. Men are often left out of this conversation, but they need healing resources, too. We have extensive content to help men who are wanting to explore healing from past abortion wounds at our website.
Until culture changes their view of men and seeing them as wounded by abortion, very few men are going to go to places for help. They won’t show up at a pregnancy center and most don’t even know there is help available or understand where their addictions are rooted. They may not even realize their destructive actions are caused by an abortion decision. One way to bridge the gap with men in your communities who are hurting from abortion is to connect with your local mental health professionals and let them know there are resources for men who are presenting a sex addiction, or another addiction, and ask to partner together to offer help.
Society must give men permission to hurt from abortion. Their feelings are valid and they need to know there are people and places that can help them. They don’t need to be prisoners to anger, addiction, and trauma.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by abortion, you are not alone. Call 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.