This is the testimony of Sue*, aged 47, about how her abortion affected her life.
WHEN I was 20, I met a young man and we started a relationship.
We moved in to a flat together and it was an intense beginning to early adult life.
My boyfriend told me often that he loved me and there were numerous romantic gestures he showered over me.
However, he would often put me down with mean words, take money from me so he could take drugs and he rarely had a job.
I knew something was wrong though I didn’t know what to do about it.
After our one-year anniversary, I fell pregnant and I was excited that something good had happened to me – the girl with anxiety and a boyfriend who was inconsistent with his love and actions.
When the doctor gave us our results, my boyfriend turned to him and said, “How do we get rid of it?” My first thought was, “I’m not getting rid of it” although I didn’t verbalise it.
We drove home and I looked up a women’s health book and found a page about the growth of embryos.
I knew it was already the size of a grain of rice and was beginning to develop into a foetus with a heartbeat.
I read this out loud to my boyfriend who said, “Don’t look at it”.
I kept quiet about my pregnancy and, having moved states, I hadn’t made friends yet.
I was estranged from my family and didn’t confide in them about my situation.
My boyfriend organised appointments at an abortion clinic which I refused to go to.
One day he put me in the car and drove me there.
I don’t know what day it was, what time or where I went.
I was extremely anxious and couldn’t think straight.
He dropped me off outside a surgery and drove off.
I stood there, alone, looking at the building. I felt I would collapse.
I was so traumatised and I was scared that my emotional overload might kill me right there on the spot.
It was the mid-1980s and I had no money, no friends, no family support and nowhere to go.
How had I arrived at this point in my life?
Something propelled me inside the door and before the abortion procedure I felt sick.
The doctors went ahead with the procedure and I woke up from the anaesthetic vomiting.
I wasn’t only physically sick, I felt sick in my soul and heart.
How would I live with myself?
My boyfriend picked me up and we went back to our little flat. I was heartbroken.
Our relationship quickly deteriorated and he became abusive in every way until four years later I finally left.
At this point, I had an emotional and mental breakdown and was close to being anorexic.
What had happened to my life?
I had been so traumatised from enduring a forced abortion that I had loads of emotional and physical issues.
The depth of the trauma was so powerful that I forgot I had gone through this procedure.
It was 15 years after the event when I was 35 that I was at church and reminded of this horrible experience.
I swayed as I walked with the realisation of what happened and I found a chair to sit in before I collapsed.
As time went by, I heard of a healing retreat that healed women and men from the trauma of an abortion experience.
Could it be possible?
Hope rose in my heart.
I researched a great deal about the retreat and, with a new-found faith that had healed much of the sadness in my life, I had another step to go.
So I went to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for the weekend and found the healing and freedom I had long wanted for nearly three decades.
There was a small group who gathered to share their stories of having been through an abortion and we all empathised with the other’s experience.
There was a lot of acceptance and love shown to all the women in this predicament by the leaders of the retreat.
They were kind, supportive, understanding, listened and were non-judgemental.
They walked us through a process of being set free from the trauma of our experiences.
It was a safe place to be and there was respect for each person involved in the retreat.
On the Sunday afternoon when the retreat was finished, my life did a 180-degree turn to the road of forgiving myself and being set free from the abortion.
I honestly felt liberated and happy deep down in my soul and spirit. It was a wonderful and new feeling that set me free.
So, take courage.
It is a liberating experience to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat that is set in a loving, non-judgemental environment.
I know that if you have lived with the regret and trauma of having an abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard can help you too.
Rachel’s Vineyard is a retreat weekend for people who have been affected by an abortion, whether they be the mother, father, grandparent. It is a weekend which can assist people in the healing process. General information can be found on the Australian website. For inquiries regarding Rachel’s Vineyard in Brisbane contact 0407 175 508 (confidential voice mail); PO Box 298 Albany Creek 4035; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Not real name. Author wishes to remain anonymous