Welcome to Men Healing From Trauma
Reclaiming Lost Fatherhood –
A Man’s Story of Abortion Loss and Recovery
with Gregory Mayo
Greg Mayo experienced an enormous amount of trauma by the age of 22. He suffered abandonment by his father at a young age, and then verbal and physical abuse from his step-father, Greg had also been personally impacted by two abortion decisions. Feeling alone and not being able to trust anyone, Greg started to run from the pain of abuse and abortion. He recalls, “I began running away from the pain, running away from the abortion issue. I felt like I did not have a voice and like I did not have anyone to talk to.”
While others saw a charming, funny, life of the party, inside Greg was depressed, lost and scared. This feeling of isolation began to impact not only his mental health, but also his relationships as well. After years of running from the pain and shame after abuse and abortion Greg knew he needed help, but did not know where to start or where to go to find healing.
At the age of 18, Greg and his girlfriend found out they were pregnant. He did not agree with or support the abortion decision, but it happened, and sent him down a path of pain and confusion. He recalls, “one side tells you it is not a baby, which discredits the grief and sadness your feeling. The other side tells you, you are a horrible person, which brings pain and shame.” It was this pain, shame and confusion that caused Greg to engage in destructive behaviors. The unhealed trauma of abuse and abortion, caused Greg to get stuck in the same cycle of bad decisions, that led to his second abortion experience at the age of 22.
The lack of trust from his unresolved childhood issues and the shame of his abortions began to impact Greg’s relationships and increase his feeling of isolation. Before meeting his wife, he noticed that when he started to get close to someone he would find fault in them, and create a reason to leave. He recalls, “I moved from place to place and relationship to relationship to constantly reinvent myself, so that no one could ever really get to know me.”
Greg eventually did meet and marry his wife but the pain of his abortion also had a direct impact on the relationship with his children. Greg became aware of his over nurturing and overprotective parenting style, that he developed as he puts it, “to make up for not being able to protect my unborn children.”
Greg began attending church and his Pastor encouraged him to learn from “hard times“. This led to Greg sharing that he had two abortions in a men’s small group. To Greg’s surprise other men had been impacted by abortion as well, and in that moment it was affirmed for Greg, he was not alone!
Healing can often start with sharing your abortion experience, but abortion healing is an on-going process. Greg states, “as we change, our spiritual and recovery journey changes. We continue to grow, develop new insights, heal and move to the next insight and next level of healing.” Greg continued this ongoing process by finding and reading many books about abortion and abortion recovery. He continued to talk with his pastor about the feelings of pain, shame and isolation he had been experiencing for so many years. It was important for Greg to continue a relationship with his pastor because as he states, “when a man becomes vulnerable and shares his story he will need a mentor to walk alongside him and continue to guide him. He cannot do this alone.” For more information on the virtual healing groups for men visit our website at https://www.supportafterabortion.com/virtual-support-groups.
As part of his healing journey, he learned to name and honor his unborn children, Abigail and Benjamin. He decided to write a letter to each child, apologizing for the abortion decision. While sitting on a beach he wrote to each of them letters of repentance, forgiveness and love then read each letter out loud before letting it go in the river. This process gave life and dignity to his children and to past relationships.
Greg found hope, healing and heard a calling to help other men suffering from pain, shame and isolation after abortion. He has become a facilitator for Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. It is a safe place to find community and freedom from the issues that are controlling our lives. He also wrote the book, Almost Daddy. This book, brings awareness to the need for abortion healing and starts the conversation for abortion healing with men.
Greg encourages all men suffering from pain, shame, and isolation after abortion to take the first small step towards healing. “Of course you are afraid, you are going to be dealing with uncomfortable emotions and experiences. But you do not have to do it all at once and you are not alone!”
If you are a man suffering from pain, regret and shame after abortion, you are not alone. Please call our confidential hopeline at 1-844-289-HOPE. For more information on how to help men suffering from the pain and shame after abortion or to sign up for one of our virtual healing groups, visit our website at www.supportafterabortion.com.
One Man’s Journey of Healing After Abortion,
and Helping Other Men Heal
with Dr. Joseph Roebuck
Joseph Roebuck was a young man when his long term girlfriend revealed they were pregnant. Joseph was disturbed by this news, angry at the abortion decision and felt his wound of abandonment resurface in that moment. Abandonment issues from his mother and the pain after abortion led Joseph to struggle with trust, intimacy, and confusion after abortion for many years. As he searched for ways to help others, he found something far greater. For the first time he was able to find healing after abortion and offer greater capacity to help men suffering from pain and shame after abortion.
When his longtime girlfriend told him she was pregnant, he remembers feeling disturbed and troubled. He states, “this was not a part of my plan, but I sheepishly asked her to marry me.” His girlfriend was a product of divorce and denied his proposal. She did not want her child to go through the same pain after divorce that she had. She decided to have an abortion. He remembers thinking, “I cannot in good conscience pay for or support this decision.” After the abortion, Joseph and his partner never spoke of or processed this painful experience.
Joseph and his relationship began to feel the adverse impacts of abortion. After a series of intimacy and trust issues, the relationship traumatically ended. He all of sudden felt the pain of codependency and the wound of abandonment, similar to the one he had felt from his mother as a child. He was alone again, scared and confused. He started to focus all his attention inward, on himself and his school work. He went on to earn two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree. Joseph realized that his pursuit of extensive education and accomplishments were coping mechanism to the pain and loss he felt from the abortion decision as a young man.
While Joseph sought counseling, he was never asked about previous trauma or abortion. He began to volunteer as a way to help cope with the loss he had experienced. He found great comfort when he volunteered for a Big Brother program. Developing relationships with the children in this program added meaning to his life, helped him heal from his childhood abandonment and helped start to heal the wound of lost fatherhood.
Ten years went on and Jospeh found himself called to help men suffering from abortion through Rachel’s Vineyard. Rachels Vineyard is a weekend retreat program that offers men and women the opportunity to examine their abortion experience, identify the ways that the loss impacted them in the past and present and helps to acknowledge any unresolved feelings that many individuals struggle with.
He recalls, “the retreat uses a number of spiritually guided exercises, centered around gospel passages. Through a guided meditation of gospels such as the ‘Woman at the Well’, I was asked to place myself with Jesus Christ at the well, and listen to what He was saying to me.” This meditation, and the whole retreat opened a space for Dr. Joseph to grieve the loss of his child and for the first time he felt a connection with his child. He named his son Paul, and received a Certificate of Life for him. He states, “the retreat is the source of healing, I keep going back to, because it was there I was first connected to my son.”
While healing is not one-size fits all, all healing journeys are on-going and a life-long process. Joseph continues his abortion healing journey with continued volunteer work and his most recent involvement as a facilitator of the Unraveled Roots Virtual Healing group through Support After Abortion. Dr. Joseph encourages all men suffering from the pain after abortion to “embrace the awkwardness and scariness you are feeling. The risk is small compared to the benefits you will gain!”
If you or someone you know has been impacted by abortion, you are not alone. Call our confidential hopeline at 844-289-HOPE (4673). For women who’s partner, 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.
Talking with Men at Pregnancy Centers
with Todd Reinschmidt
Men are impacted by abortion. Men stuff down their emotions and pain, particularly when our culture doesn’t validate that men hurt from abortion. Todd Reinschmidt from Venice, Florida developed a unique program that engages men who enter pregnancy centers with their girlfriend or spouse. He shared strategies and practical suggestions on how you can invite healing to men who’ve been impacted by abortion or pregnancy loss.
Todd spent several hours every week volunteering at his local pregnancy center. His initial objective was to help guide the men who stayed in the center’s waiting room as their pregnant partners sought medical treatment. As he helped these men navigate the fear and overall extreme emotions, it became clear to Todd that these conversations were actually saving babies’ lives. When both women and men were provided helpful information to their decision process, partners together were changing their decisions about abortion, to keep their future babies.
This positive effect drove the creation of Rookie Dads, a program designed as a support system from conception through birth and the early stages of being a father. Todd would train and equip volunteer coaches, who would take shifts –like the female volunteers– in the center, to be available when men would come in with partners to address the pregnancy situation at hand. Todd quickly understood that oftentimes, not only was there a current pregnancy situation, but that many of these men had previous pregnancy experiences, and a significant amount of those were aborted. Todd knew he needed to address current fears about the current pregnancy (finances, living situations, relationship issues, and all the other complexities) as well as their previous experiences. There was a tremendous need for healing and support in the post-abortion process. This was the start of Support After Abortion.
Todd knew that the foundation of the healing process was to allow men to reach a level of vulnerability and share their previous abortion experiences by talking and engaging with them in a non-threatening manner. To do that, it’s important to form a relational connection. Todd and other coaches would take time to speak with the men in the centers about more than just abortion because there is so much more to these men. He would ask them about work, sports, even the weather, to help put them at ease. By building this rapport, men felt comfortable enough to channel the emotions they were experiencing into words. This vulnerability only grew as Todd shared his own experiences of hardship in his own life.
As Todd spoke to dozens of men, he quickly acknowledged that the dominant emotions that most of those men were carrying were shame and not being good enough. For so many of them, the guilt and shame they carried from a past abortion were not simply repressed but truly buried. Todd witnessed an array of reactions, from agitated to weeping or tearful. Through these feelings of shame led to unraveling feelings of anger. Todd understood that these heightened emotions due to past trauma were quite possibly impacting these men’s ability to think clearly about the current pregnancy situation. These heightened emotions also stopped these men from seeing that, should they re-experience this trauma, those feelings of shame and not being good enough would deepen or worsen.
To help sift through these emotions, Todd helped discern lies from the truth, shifting away from lies of shame, guilt, and not feeling good enough towards the truth that everyone makes mistakes, does things they regret, but that that didn’t have to be a shame they carried with them through life. Moving toward a message of acceptance and love for who they each were as a person, regardless of their pasts allows Todd and the coaches to begin discussing the current pregnancy situation at hand.
Many men who had dealt with abortions wished that they had spoken up. The most common response to a pregnancy situation was, “It’s your body, I’ll support whatever you decide.” But Todd reminded them that while it is her body, that baby is theirs as well. While the men said that thinking it was a loving and supportive position to take, what the women really needed was honesty: regarding their opinion, their thought process, and a firm decision on their part. Todd encouraged the men that, whatever their opinion was, it was their responsibility to vocalize that, because she needs to hear a definitive opinion from her partner. He would explain that this lack of response is actually not a loving response, despite their good intentions. This was never a criticism and was what Todd would use as the platform to validate whatever it was these men were feeling. Validating the feelings of men in these situations carries particular weight, making sure no one feels judged or attacked. It doesn’t matter if a coach agrees or disagrees with an opinion: validation is a strategy that is critical to the success of the conversation.
When aiming for validation, Todd knows that mirroring the information shared with him goes a long way, making the men feel truly heard and listening to. Most often, the shame these men feel from their past abortion experiences tells that they’re not worthy of being seen. Being seen lays the foundation for these men to tackle their feelings head-on and have more challenging conversations. This is why it is so important for Todd that the coaches lay a foundation with the men first, breaking the ice and making it clear that this conversation is a safe space.
“If you don’t prepare your own heart for these conversations, you say things in a way that drives the person to shut down, you’ve eliminated the possibility of having an impact,” Todd shared.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by abortion, you are not alone. Call our confidential hotline at 844-289-HOPE (4673). For women whose partner, loved one, or friend has had an abortion visit us at www.supportafterabortion.com to learn how to create a safe space, and create a dialogue so more men can receive hope and healing after abortion.
Trauma Barriers to Men's Healing After Abortion
with Greg Hasek
Unsurprisingly, 80 percent of people who seek out counseling are females. Greg Hasek, a licensed counselor with more than 20 years of experience, lightly shares that the 20 percent of men who go to counseling are being dragged in by their wives. Most men will tell you that counseling is the very last thing they want to do with their time and will only go if they are in a most precarious situation, usually when their own lives or marriages are hanging in the balance.
Those are the situations that Greg Hasek specializes in, most specifically in situations where men have sex addictions, are dealing with past trauma, or PTSD. But Hasek has another specialization: how abortion affects men. And, those roots run deep. Almost always, men aren’t coming to him for help with the aftermath of abortion. They are seeking him out because of an addiction that has nearly destroyed their lives.
From a counselor’s perspective, finding men who have been harmed by an abortion decision is no easy task for the reasons mentioned above. They are not walking into pregnancy centers asking for help. They are not walking into the offices of mental health professionals and asking for help to overcome their intense feelings about the abortion. But these men exist in droves.
Think about it: there are nearly one million abortions that happen in the United States alone every year. Even if only a small percentage of the fathers are suffering negative effects from the abortion, that is still a large number.
What does abortion have to do with those addictions? They are sometimes a root cause or they have made the addiction or behavior infinitely worse as the man tries to numb the pain of the abortion decision.
There are many reasons why men won’t seek out counseling in general, much less to deal with the pain from an abortion. The two biggest ones, according to Hasek are these:
1 – Our culture hardly ever validates men for the trauma they’ve experienced. The exception would be for war-related PTSD and trauma. But abortion trauma? Not a chance. Men shouldn’t hurt from abortion, our culture says, it’s a woman’s issue.
2 – Men have been conditioned since an early age to suppress feelings and not show emotion. Crying is out of the question. Showing weakness is frowned upon. This doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t there; it just means that men have had to find other outlets, including unhealthy ones, to release pent up emotions.
As a licensed clinician, Greg helps men and help them heal from not only their addictions and unhealthy behaviors and PTSD, but also from the trauma caused by the abortion experience. He has found that somewhere between 30 – 40 percent of men who come to him with sex addictions also have experienced abortion trauma in their past.
Remember that rock thrown into the calm lake? When a man experiences trauma from an abortion, the effects are felt far beyond his own life. His detachment from his partner and his children is very real and very powerful. When his partner was inside the clinic, he felt a double hit to his natural instinct to protect her and to protect his child, that fight response. His partner felt her natural flight response hindered while on that table. When he looks at her, he feels like he let her down. He feels like he let his child down. Those failures may predispose him to delve deeper into his addictions, no matter what they may be, and drive him away from his partner and family.
The good news is that there are resources for men hurting from abortion. They need not suffer alone. We will continue to have short, but powerful, discussions with Greg Hasek, who has been helping men find healing from past abortion will also be a key speaker at the Unraveling Roots of Men’s Trauma conference sponsored by Support After Abortion on October 16, 2021.
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.