“My abortion was far more traumatic than the rape, Sydna,” the young woman shared during an abortion recovery program I was leading. “Why didn’t anyone tell me that abortion would be so hard? Even Christians recommended I abort but I didn’t think it would be so brutal to my heart, soul and mind.”
The #MeToo effort has identified many women who were abused in the past. Women who have experienced sexual abuse are often post-abortive as well. No matter what the reason for aborting, the physical, spiritual and emotional encounter of walking into an abortion clinic and allowing a child to be removed from your womb is rarely an easy experience. When sexual abuse has occurred, abortion can ignite further devastation to these wounded hearts.
“My husband was beating me and had just started to hit my kids,” the woman shared during a ministry call. “I aborted believing it was better that my unborn child never be born than to have such an abusive father. How could I have been so wrong?”
Abortion is often recommended in cases of abuse, rape and incest. Even the staunchest pro-lifer struggles to discourage abortion should a woman enduring these circumstances become pregnant.
Sadly, it doesn’t matter what led you to have an abortion. The pain on the other side of this choice can produce additional trauma at a physical, emotional and psychological level. During a time when these women need understanding and support, many feel pressured to abort by those who are attempting to help them.
Children who were conceived after such an abusive sexual encounter are now speaking out, highlighting their amazing lives despite living with the DNA of a criminal. They offer incredible stories of how amazing their lives have been despite having been conceived through a violent encounter.
“I remember my uncle taking me to a place where there were nurses, “a young woman shared with me. “I was 12 and it was a cold place where they made me get up on a table. I had no idea what was happening. It was terrifying and I begged them to let me go home. Then they put a needle in my arm and I went to sleep. I know in my heart that was an abortion clinic. I woke up feeling so empty. I was so sore down there that I knew something had happened.”
Over the years I’ve heard the testimonies of hundreds of women who shared memories of early sexual abuse. Many recall their abuser taking them to a “clinic” but had no idea what happened to them there. They often outline they did not realize they were even pregnant. A sudden realization that they likely aborted children is an additional horror in processing their sexual abuse pain.
When abortion was made legal in the late 1960’s in several states, sexual abuse rates were much lower than today. If a 12-year-old came up pregnant, society would search and prosecute the man who had abused her. The pregnancy often revealed and then ended the sexual abuse.
After the legalization of abortion, sexual abusers gained a tool that allowed them to dispose of the evidence of their rape and allow them to continue abusing victims. Pedophiles understand that the DNA of a child born from rape can lead to long prison sentences. Abortion removes the proof of their sexual abuse from existence, allowing them the horrifying ability to continue their abusive ways.
Many victims feel they have no other choice but to abort. Whether they have been sexually abused or not, many women walking through an abortion procedure live out the passage of Scripture found in Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
Sexual trafficking ministries have long understood the connection between abortion and sexual abuse. For those caught in the web of sexual slavery, abortion is a well-used financial tool for traffickers. Those that escape that sexual imprisonment often report multiple forced abortion experiences.
Internationally, the connection between sexual abuse and abortion is even more obvious. I once addressed a conference for women who were running Central Asian sexual trafficking ministries. The previous year the event leaders had conducted a survey, asking if attendees had experienced abortion. Results from that study outlined the audience had a 100% post-abortion rate.
It was an honor to spend a week with many of these leaders, helping them find God’s healing for their abortion pain. Ramah then provided the entire group with abortion recovery resources and tools to take back to their nations to help the women they serve process their abortion pain.
Families that discover sexual abuse often refuse to support any resulting pregnancy. Even spouses can force a recently raped woman into an abortion clinic. If she wants to continue her marriage, she must sacrifice the child in her womb. When abortion leaves her even more wounded, no one knows how to help her heal. So they ignore the topic and the woman often wallows away for many years in shame and guilt.
Most rape kits offered to sexually assaulted women include the “morning after pill.” This medication is designed to ensure pregnancy doesn’t occur. Even taking this pill can cause further trauma as women have no idea if they lost a child. Many grieve despite never knowing if a child was conceived.
Abortion is never a healing experience. After sexual abuse, it can ensure an even deeper wounding. If someone you know has experienced sexual abuse, there is a good chance abortion was part of that trauma. It isn’t wrong to ask them if abortion was part of their exploitation.
The healing process after abortion can be very similar to the path of restoration for a sexual abuse victim. Denial, anger, depression, forgiveness and other stages of grief experienced by the post-abortive also are typical of the sexually abused woman.
The emotional trauma of keeping the secret of sexual abuse and/or abortion may manifest in self-destructive behaviors, inability to form or maintain personal relationships, or complete withdrawal from society. Here are some ways you can help victims:
Provide tangible encouragement that God can heal the painful memories and restore them to wholeness.
Don’t take an individual’s negative reaction personally when you present God’s love to these victims. Hurting people hurt people.
Offer unconditional love and support at an ongoing level to emulate Christ’s love. Blame and shame have already been rooted into the heart of these victims. Your acceptance can be the catalyst for future healing.
Romans 5:5 reveals God’s ability to heal the hearts of his people from any sin, even abortion. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Our online abortion recovery program can help post-abortive sexual abuse victims understand their pain and find God’s healing process. If you know someone who is struggling with past abuse that includes abortion, let them know that God loves them and so do you. Share the HerChoicetoHeal.com website with them and be sure to let them know that you love them!