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I was sexually abused from the ages 6 to 8 years old, by a boy only a few years older than me and by his father. I have been working with a catholic counselor with 2 years and she has helped me to go much deeper than this layer of pain in my childhood, into the womb of my mother. The "triggers" that I have, do not trigger memories of sexual abuse (which were not violent but very warm) I am taken into deep rejection in the womb. Will I ever know what that is? My mother has been able to share that my Dad hit her during pregnancy but I would never ask her anything else...

Dear friend,

How frightening for your mother to be abused and beaten during her pregnancy with you. The best way to find the answer to your question is to ask your mom. Ask her to tell you the whole story. Let her know that you won’t judge her for anything that she did or felt because you understand she was being threatened and rejected. Tell her it’s important for you to know the truth so that you can understand your own “triggers” and emotional responses. Assure her of your love and ask for the truth.


You can attend the retreat to grieve the baby that was lost in your ectopic pregnancy. If you would like to attend a 5 day healing program for sexual abuse visit -- thats another program specific for abuse.

last week,my grand dauther get wrept fromstudents injuneurhi school.wath kine help i can do
Sarkis aramian

Below you will find some links to books on this subject. It would probably be helpful to choose one and give it to her. It’s a way of reaching out to her and sharing that you care about the emotional pain she is feeling.

Getting help sooner than later is important so that she can process the traumatic experience and recover, instead of acting out. She should contact the school counselor where this happened who can connect her with the best local resources.

Here are some links to good books:|638021|71457|638021|71457

What are the statistics related to women on abortion, abuse and pregnancy and being incarcerated? What are the ratios? I am speaking at a women's conference representing a jail ministry and would like to have a few statistics so that women know the importance of ministry in this area to the incarcerated.
Debbie Trombley

Here are a few statistics that might help show the importance of offering post-abortion ministering in prison:

Abortion stats:

Women who abort are 6x more likely to commit suicide (also linked to risk taking behavior (which can involve illegal activity, drugs etc)

5 fold higher risk of drug and alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse after an abortion is linked to violent behavior, divorce/separation, auto-accidents and job loss.

64% of abortions involved coercion - crimes can be committed as revenge

Women who have repeat abortions are more likely to experience poverty and single motherhood

144% more likely to abuse their children

Women at high risk for post-abortion syndrome

Have a prior unresolved trauma or unresolved grief

Have a history of sexual abuse or sexual assault.

(all these stats came from the Elliot Institute at

Women in prison stats:

58% were abused

43% physically abused

39% sexually abused

16% more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder

2x more likely to have major depressive episodes

74% used drugs before incarceration

Number of women incarcerated for drug-related crimes has increased 10 fold.

(all these stats came from the DeMoss Group at

I don’t know of any statistics referring to how many women in prison have a history of abortion. However, many years ago I used to correspond with a woman in prison who had killed her husband because he had forced her to have an abortion. In the aftermath, her rage and grief drove her to the breaking point and she shot him. Because we were pen pals, I asked her to do a little survey on her cellblock to find out how many other women had histories of abortion. She wrote back and told me that she could not find one woman who did not suffer the loss of a child through abortion.... I think that is significant.

Lorena Bobbit cut off her husband's penis on the anniversary week of her abortion - but she never went to jail. We've heard plenty of murder/castration fantasies on retreats when women pour out their grief turned rage.

There are also many homicide crimes where women cut babies out of pregnant women’s stomachs. I understand this to be a traumatic reenactment of their past abortions.

Also, I know of other women who have done criminal things to put themselves in jail because they felt the need to be punished for abortion. In other words, they deliberately engaged in crimes with the goal of going to jail.... conscious, pre-meditated and deliberate. I am sure that many other women may be acting out unconsciously as well.

When a woman enters jail, she is asked how many times they've been pregnant and how many children they have, but that information is not released. You can use the statistics above to connect a few dots and show that women in prison are likely in need of post-abortive counseling/support.

Many women in prison are there because of drug-related crimes or were drugs users prior to incarcerations. We certainly know that drug/alcohol abuse is common among post-abortive women. Also women with a history of abuse or trauma are at a high risk for post-abortion trauma and often are more likely to choose abortion. The stats above show that a significant amount of women in prison have a history of abuse in some form. Also, looking at the effects abortion has on women: risky behavior, violence related to alcohol abuse and child abuse, it is possible that those women are ending up in prison. Committing a crime can offer an adrenaline rush that takes away the pain and loss. Women may use this as a way to self-medicate and for some, it is only a matter of time before they get caught. Post-abortive women also have low self esteem and see no value in their lives so taking risks, committing crimes and being arrested would not matter to them. I do not have the numbers for how many women are incarcerated for child abuse but in many cases those women have a history of abortion (examples Donna Flemming, Susan Smith, Tanya Dacri, Casey Anthony etc. etc etc.

Can I get information of the Grief to Grace Retreats? Dates, locations, and costs please. Who do they help? What will take place.

Please provide a contact I may call, or they may call me.

Thank you,

Joe Sprengard



Visit for a listing of upcoming dates and locations.

I'll pass on your info and someone will call you.

I attended a Rachel's Vineyard retreat last May. My abortion was just over 14 years ago. At the retreat, I felt as if I got some healing. Now, it feels like I am completely raw. It is almost like I was cut open for the very first time and sent on my way. I tried to continue the process with my therapist, but it just seems as though I'm not comfortable talking to her about it.

Growing up, I was constantly abused by my birth father, physically, emotionally, and sexually. Unfortunately, I have been raped by others as well as by him since I have been an adult. I recently miscarried a set of twins and feel as though I have been ripped open again. I thought I had been able to deal with my abortion, but I still feel the guilt and as if I have not been able to really process the grief. Now, the grief seems very intense.

Would it be okay to go back to a Rachel's retreat? Should I just wait and try to attend the Grief to Grace retreat (if possible)? Would it be okay to try to go to both? Should I just be past this?

It feels as though I am a failure of the retreat. I apologize for that. It isn't anything wrong with the retreat, I'm just screwed up and a failure. Could you please give me some advice?

Tigger in Texas

Dearest Tigger in Texas,

You are not a failure!!!! You would be welcome to attend the next Grief to Grace in Corpus Christi. It will be held September 17-20, 2009. Its four days of hard work but it will surely help address the trauma which still lingers so deeply within your soul.

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your precious twins. Of course, such a loss has the capacity to connect you with all losses of the womb -- especially your abortion, and any other trauma where something very valuable was taken away from you. (like your innocense in all the tragic abuse you have suffered) You might have done some healing, but it is very common for some trigger event like miscarriage to open everything up all over again. Give yourself time and space to grieve.

You have to trust that God allowed these wounds to open again because he wants to heal you in a much deeper way. He does not always remove our pain or explain it -- but he can fill it with his presence. I hope you will be able to come to Grief to Grace. I am sure that if you did attend a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat again, that this time you could honor the twins... reconnect with your other child and introduce them to each other! They are in good company!

This is very hard. You have suffered tremenous trauma. The abuse from your father must have made you feel very powerless. When you feel that way because of miscarriage it will connect you to any trauma, rape abuse or abortion that made you feel powerless. You might try some EMDR or Bilateral Stimulation type therapy with a counselor. This might help you in the meantime.

Don't give up -- and certainly don't blame yourself. This is not your fault!!! You are not a failure -- but many people have failed you and you could do nothing to stop it. Let the grief flow, release it and open your heart to the new things God wants to do for you.

Is there any chance that the Grief to Grace retreat will be coming to the West Coast soon? (I missed the one in BC and financial circumstances do not permit me to travel any great distance.)

I have attended the RV weekend for my abortions and experienced a great deal of healing. However, it seems that in delving into that wound, a flood of grief and pain from years of incest and rape, including rape by a priest, were released. I have dealt with it in both counseling and spiritual direction, but I really believe that I need the communal/ritual experience similar to RV.

It seems like I have been waiting for the healilng for so long (almost 40 years)! I try to trust that all will be well in God's time . . . but it seems to become more difficult as "human time" goes by.

On the West Coast

I do hope so. I've finally finished writing the manual, testing in on many different groups and populations and now we are starting to spread the ministry. Please keep our efforts in prayer. This summer I will be presenting the model to the National Victims Assistants meeting in San Francisco. The woman who invited me to do so is from Los Angeles... so hopefully, that might spark some interest on the west coast.

I know that you have suffered a long time and at this point, help can't come fast enough. We'll be doing our best in the months ahead to welcome the places willing to do this beautiful work.

Dear Theresa:

I had multiple abortions and have attended Rachel's vineyard retreat in the diocese of Arlington, VA. It was wonderful. Everyone in the the very large group received healing. I met my child and received her gift. It was an amazing experience.

I am also a victim of child sexual abuse, incest, rape.

I notice I bear a lot of anger and rage towards my mom and men who love me. I am in my forties and single and tend to want to hurt men who love me. I read a book regarding this but how do I get healed from this?

I would like to attend a weekend healing of sexual abuse.

I sent an email requesting information but never received any response. My life seem to be on hold until I receive this healing. Could you help me?

I appreciate your time and response.


Maybelle in DC

Thanks for writing. We are just starting to spread the new program for sexual abuse "Grief to Grace" -- the upcoming retreats will be held on the following dates and locations:

May 21-25, 2009

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

September 17-21 2009

Corpus Christi, TX

October 19-22, 2009

Atlanta, GA

Palm Beach Florida TBA

I'm not sure if these places are too far away for you, but if you'd like to go to one, please let us know ehich one by writing to Someone will send you an application for that retreat. There may have been a delay getting back to you because we have only just scheduled these dates for 2009. Thanks for your patience.

visit This new program was composed by Theresa and Kevin Burke, the founders of Rachel's Vineyard, to provide a psychological and spiritual healing journey for anyone impacted by abuse to reclaim sexual dignity.

Hi my name is Danielle I am 17 soon to be 18. From ages 8-15 my birth father sexually abused and raped me continously. I have had 2 abortions one when I was 11 and one when I was 13. I told my school priest what was going on my Sophomore year of high school and I have never felt so guilty. Not just about killing two humans but about putting my father in prison where he is probably going to be raped for what he did to me. A few questions.

Would a Rachels retreat be good for me? Am I wrong in feeling guilty about what I did to my father? I should have never told someone. He would have stopped eventually..right? Thanks for taking the time to read this. Hope to hear back from you soon.


Danielle at PA

Hi Danielle,

I am so sorry to hear about all the sexual abuse you have endured for so many years. It must have taken tremendous courage to survive such a childhood. It must have been devastating to witness the legal consequences of your father’s actions and the impact and hurt he has caused to the family. None of what has happened is your fault but I do understand that incest is a complex and painful situation. Sometimes, in the difficulties that everyone suffers, its easy for people to blame themselves, but clearly none of his abusive actions against you are your fault.

Rachel’s Vineyard would be helpful for you to not only grieve the impact of your abuse, but to release your grief about the abortions, and to receive support and consolation from others, and discover your strength and courage. You did the right thing by speaking up – even though it was probably very difficult. It is unlikely he would have stopped unless there were serious consequences to his abusive behavior.

In addition to Rachel’s Vineyard, I also recommend that at some point you try to make a Grief to Grace program – it is similar to Rachel’s Vineyard only the focus is on recovery and healing from sexual abuse.

I am now 53 years old and had 2 abortions, one when I was only 15 years old and one when I was 21 years old. I also was sexually abused by my father when between the ages of 3 and 11 years old. My question is, would a Rachel Retreat be at all helpful for someone like me, who had an abortion so long ago?
Beverly Sides

First of all, I just want to say that I am sorry to hear that you have endured abuse, especially from someone so close to you and for so many years. You are obviously a strong survivor! Indeed, the retreat will be very helpful and comforting for you. You can take comfort in knowing that it is highly unlikely that you would be the only one on the retreat with sexual abuse in your history. It's one trauma that is frequently precedes abortion -- and for many people, it's what makes them to go on an have abortions as a way to continue shaming themselves and acting out unhealed hurt in the area of sexuality.

Id recommend a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat and perhaps at some point in the future you might consider a Grief to Grace program for healing sexual abuse.

Continue in your search for recovery. Many gifts await you in Rachel's Vineyard -- and you certainly deserve every one of them!

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