they judge themselves. They are assaulted by their own self-condemnation, and have difficulty trusting.
Any professional intake should include the question: Is there a pregnancy loss in your history due to abortion or miscarriage? Later, you can come back to the subject and invite sharing by statements like, ”You shared with me that you had experienced a pregnancy termination. I know this is a sensitive subject, but I invite you to share what it was like for you. Do you ever think about it? Do you ever feel down, or hurt in some way when you think about it?” By just listening with an open heart, you give the person a signal that they can trust you.
Acknowledge their pain. If someone says, “I’ve had an abortion”, simply reply, “That must have been very difficult for you”. By saying this, you give her permission to grieve and to experience the pain. It is only when someone is willing to feel the pain of abortion that they can begin to heal. I also believe that by our awareness of how difficult it is to deal with a past abortion, we can respond with sympathy, patience, and understanding, and thereby open the door for more dialogue.
No judgments. It is important for them to know that you will not judge them. Be careful not to communicate any condemnation. Regardless of their public statements or personal opinions about abortion, be assured that beneath the surface there is often great shame, guilt, and fear of being judged. Make sure your heart is filled only with love and a clear desire to listen, to support, and encourage when the time is right.
Understand the fear. Many fear that if they open up the door to their abortion experience and face their deepest feelings, it would be overwhelming and even destructive. We need to acknowledge this fear and assure them that help is available. It also lets them know that they are not alone. Many others have successfully made the journey to reconciliation and healing. This reality gives great hope.
Encourage them by expressing God’s love for them. No matter what we have done or who we are, God loves us. If another person views you as compassionate, they will be more likely to open up to you. If they think you will only criticize and condemn, they will continue to feel shame and fear. One’s sense of goodness and trust is colored by memories of feeling unspeakably alone. Without encouragement they will guard their wounds in secret silence. Genuine encouragement will help break this vicious cycle.
Help them to seek recovery. Leave informational pamphlets around your office and church on post-abortion issues, as well as invitations into healing programs. Talk about the subject among your friends, colleagues and clients in a