A message from Michaelene Fredenburg
As a Heartbeat affiliate, you regularly see clients’ pain from past abortions. You offer support or refer women to a healing group, but so many things -- including shame and fear -- may prevent them from attending.
I can certainly relate.
At 18 I had an abortion. I believed it would erase my pregnancy and allow me to move on with my life. Instead, I experienced regret and sadness. I was confused by these emotions. At first I tried to ignore them, but the emotions only grew stronger and more intrusive. I thought about talking to someone, but the desire to reach out was checked by my fear of how people might react.
What if they denied my feelings? What if they condemned me? What if they treated me differently afterward?
I seriously wondered if anyone could understand what I was going through. I also wondered if other women were experiencing similar, troubling emotions after their abortions. Or was I the only one?
Even after learning of an after-abortion healing group and realizing I wasn’t alone, I still resisted reaching out for help. My secret would be revealed if I attended a program affiliated with my church. I also wasn’t sure I wanted to heal -- suffering and punishment seemed like more appropriate consequences.
As my unresolved emotions gradually developed into unhealthy behaviors, my desperation to find help finally overcame my fear. When I shared my pain with a friend, her compassion gave me courage to reach out to the after-abortion healing program. Finally, I could grieve the loss of my child and find restoration. I was fortunate to have a friend help guide me out of my years of silent suffering.
However, many women aren’t as fortunate. As a result, after-abortion services are woefully underutilized. Although many pregnancy center clients have experienced a past abortion, only a tiny percentage of them will take advantage of the excellent resources offered through the center or by an affiliated organization.
Sue Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Women’s Resource Centers in New Jersey, related how difficult it is for clients to attend the center’s after-abortion healing group: “We lose women if they sign up for the group. It is too difficult to send them to ‘strangers’ to talk about their abortions, especially when they are already bonding with their client advocates. I began to realize that it would be best to equip each client advocate to begin the healing journey with her client.”
Sue’s search for an appropriate resource led her to the book Changed: Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved one’s Abortion Experience. “Changed is an important piece in the healing journey…it’s an excellent first step for someone who hasn’t talked about it yet. This gives the girl a starting point, and the client can stay with her client advocate.” By working through Changed one-on-one, more women will receive assistance, and it will be easier for client advocates to help those women who’d benefit from additional support to transition into an after-abortion support group or attend a healing retreat.
Lise Klassen, founding director of North Peace Pregnancy Care Centre in Canada, found Changed to be a “great start to begin your healing process. I really like how there is a combination of stories (communicates that you are not alone) and a section to write in the book as you heal (tasks of grieving).” Lise offers the book as a take-home resource. However, the client also has the option of talking through the book with center volunteers.
Lise also likes that the book is written for a wider audience -- men, women, and family members, as well as for those with or without a faith background. “The book is beautiful. I like how it is spaced out so people can read a little at a time. I hope many people will get the book.” Sue shares Lise’s enthusiasm, “We believe in it so much that three churches have purchased a total of 65 books—one church kept 20 for themselves, and the rest we are using. Each client advocate will be able to have her own copy as she works with her clients.”
I am delighted that Changed and the companion interactive website, AbortionChangesYou.com, are effectively being used as tools in after-abortion healing programs. While they in no way replace the resources and programs that are currently available, they do offer a unique place to begin the healing process for women who would otherwise continue to suffer in silence.
To commemorate Heartbeat International’s 40 years of dedicated service to women and families, we would like to offer all Heartbeat affiliates a 50% discount ($12.50 per book) from now until May 30th on the book Changed. To take advantage of this special discount, enter code Heartbeat2011 upon checkout at www.ChangedBook.com.
I invite you to browse through Changed and to visit AbortionChangesYou.com. And if your center isn’t already listed on our online directory, please submit your contact information at Find Help Resources Sign Up.
I am very honored and excited to be working with Heartbeat International at this year’s 40th Anniversary Conference. I hope you will attend the workshop entitled “Reaching the Unreachable” so we can discuss how to reach hurting men and women through Abortion Changes You® take-home and in-center resources.
Michaelene Fredenburg is the creator of the Abortion Changes You® Outreach and author of Changed: Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One’s Abortion Experience.