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I am a psychotherapist with an interest in helping women cope with the effects of abortion and the healing process. Can you recommend any particular reading materials that discusses what goes into treatment. i.e treatments goals and focus, approaches. modalities, therapist role. Thank you Eric



I too am a psychotherapist (LPCC.)

Here are in-person clinical trainings opportunities:

This is a DVD set of training "courses":

Another video training set (not affiliated with Rachel's Vineyard):

A set of books on recovery:

What percentage of women have mental health issues after abortion? petsd, depression/guilt...etc thank you

Great question!

Try this link:

"A study of the medical records of 56,741 California medicaid patients revealed that women who had abortions were 160 percent more likely than delivering women to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in the first 90 days following abortion or delivery."

when i was 17 i found out i was pregnant n well long story short i had an now 23 years old n i cant seem to be happy about anything.i feel i have trouble letting my bf who i got pregnant by get close to me at all.being intimate is an ongoing issue for me and i just dont know what to do.any suggestions?

Intimacy can be very difficult after a traumatic incident. Abortion is a particularly difficult issue as it certainly affects intimacy. Have you spoken with your boyfriend about these issues?

There may be other ways you can be intimate. You could do other things together that don't involve sexual contact.

Have you considered attending a Rachel's Vineyard retreat?

If your abortion has been found out in a small town and it appears to you that it must be the personal factor that affects potential social friendships, your employers', educators' etc decisions in relation to passing tests, given promotion or raises, job position/assignments and just town gossip and "blackballing".. . . how can a person continue to have self worth and good trusting relationships when it continues to become an ever increasing lonely world of "pay back"? It seems the resounding message of an eye for and eye and, "you didn't want your pregnancy or baby, now you know how that feels because nobody wants you ! " People don't ever speak of the emotional abandonment and persecution a person can experience in a small town and surrounding communities when the word spreads around. If people knew the hell others will judge you with and put you through, you'd never think abortion was a better choice than trying to raise an unplanned child . Thank you for letting me get that out to someone who might understand.
Anonymous in Ohio

What excellent points you make. When people decide to have an abortion, lots of things play into that decision. How many think of the blacklisting that follows? I'm not sure it is many. You're right.

When your small town found out, I wonder how. Had you told a close friend/relative and that person then spread the word? If so, that can make it hard to trust that person, or others with anything else. Secondly, how would ostracising you help the situation? It sounds more like the town is trying to punish you. But I suspect you may have already punished yourself mentally more than anyone else ever can. Those people who are blacklisting you probably don't know what you were or are going through. Don't expect them to. Still, it certainly can make your life much harder. Also, ask yourself if you maybe assuming that everyone you see is judging you when in fact they may not be. You may be judging yourself and see another's look and then that's what she is thinking. Maybe. But maybe not.

There are several online message boards for people who can talk about these issues to others who have been in similar situations. may be a good one to start with.

It has been 3 years since my abortion. It's something I always try to put at the back of my mind. After having it I went through very painful emotional and physical grieving. I never expected it. I felt blindsided with sadness. I stayed in bed all summer, I found it hard to be around family and friends. I felt like I had this terrible secret.

Around the time I had my abortion my brother and sister in law were expecting their 1st child. I don't know why, but it added to the pain I felt. I chose to terminate my child and they were having one. Ever since I have found it incredibly hard if not impossible to be around them. In the past I was not even able to look at pictures of them or hear their names without instigating a flood of emotions and panic.

I feel like I have post-abortion PTSD. I thought it had disappeared from my life but I just had another bout of it. I feel trapped with no escape.


Hello and thank you for writing.

Here is a list of some symptoms of post abortion syndrome:

I also recommend reading:

If you are experiencing some of those symptoms on a semi-regular basis then I would agree that you have post abortion syndrome. A lot of people experience "triggers." You sound like you have experienced this when you have a hard time looking at pictures of your brother's family. It is a trigger for your own post abortion syndrome. This is very common in women who have had an abortion. The good thing is that there is help. Have you been on a Rachel's Vineyard retreat?

The retreat can be a good start toward healing. I then recommend talking with a good therapist about your issues. Have you looked into that? When calling the therapist ask them questions as if you are interviewing him or her for a job...because you effectively are. Ask them about post abortion syndrome to find out of he or she is familiar with it. You can do this online by searching for "therapist directory."

Hope this helps.


It's been 18 years since my abortion. I'm a Catholic and it is a sin to terminate a pregnancy. I knew this when I did it, and I chose to do it anyways. I also knew I would regret it, I felt horrible immediately after it was done.

A year after, I found out my boyfriend (at the time) and now husband, had a child with another woman. We had been pregnant at the same time, I had an abortion and she had her child. I felt like I wanted to die. We had separated briefly due to his partying and not being there for me and our 1-year-old son at the time.

The young woman he had been messing around got pregnant and I didn't know until their daughter was born.

Now it's been 18 years, we're married and have 3 sons. He has no contact with his daughter.

I am filled with anger, resentment, sadness, depression, grief, and a tremendous amount of guilt.

I cannot forgive myself, I cannot get past the regret. He doesn't understand, I blame him also. I hate myself.

How can I ever move on? How can I forgive him?

Anonymous, Jane in California


Thanks for the courage to write.

Have you been on a Rachel's Vineyard retreat? If not I strongly encourage you to try one. It may be the start to the healing that you desperately want and NEED. The retreats are made for women JUST LIKE YOU JANE.

The fact that you have regret is a GOOD THING. That means that you are acknowledging what you did and are sorry for it. That is a very important step to healing. Knowing that he had a child at the same time you aborted can certainly make it worse. When I write "it" I am referring to guilt. The guilt may always be there but as you work on yourself and begin to heal it will lessen.

18 years is a long time to be angry at yourself and at him. Does he know that? How much have your suffered by yourself and how much with him? You mentioned that he doesn't understand. Ask him to read some material:

If you are willing to go on the retreat, maybe he could accompany you as a sign of love and support. Couples make the retreats all the time. The abortion happened as a couple, so can the healing happen as a couple.

Finally, you cannot "move on" without healing. I recommend: 1) you give him some material to read that will show you are not the only one experiencing this. 2) You then go on a retreat, preferably with him. 3) Finally, the two of you consider couples counseling.

I will pray for you Jane.


40 years ago, while in an abusive marriage, I became pregnant, My then husband coerced me into having an abortion. At the time, I was separated from my family both miles, and emotionally, as was also forced by my spouse. Following a divorce years after, I received an annulment and remarriage in the Catholic Church. I confessed the abortion to my 2nd husband 5 mo after the marriage, he said "Things would be different if he knew then what he knows now". I took this to mean he would not have married me if he had known what I had done. We went on to have 2 children, my son is troubled with drug and alcohol abuse. I feel his problems are caused by my past sins and the fact that I still grieve for my lost angel. Will confessing what I did to my son help him come to grips with his own addictions? I have never been able to tell my family. After the cold response from my husband, I am afraid of the condemnation I will receive from everyone else. Thank you
Marca in Tucson


I am sorry that apparently no one has answered your question for so long.

If you are still contemplating confessing to your son here are my thoughts. First ask yourself "What good will this possibly do?" If you are not able to give an answer...then you HAVE your answer. But if you come up with some possible good outcome then that is the first step. Then list the possible disadvantages to telling him. These may include a further strain on your relationship etc. Does this potential disadvantage outweigh the potential good (helping him with his addictions)?

Finally, if he is an addict, he will need his own separate and intensive therapy. If your son does not know about your past, how can that same past cause his problems? He has made his own decisions, and they are NOT your fault. However, is it possible that you have acted differently to him because of your abortion? Is there a way that you can possibly mend your relationship with him regardless if you tell him about your past?

I will pray for you.


Why do I feel like a monster?

I'm sorry for you. Sometimes in life we make decisions that "haunt us" and give us guilt and shame stacked on top of more guilt and shame. Then later we see those same decisions in a more clear way. I hope that you are able to reach this point.

In Genesis Adam and Eve hid themselves from God because they were ashamed of their nakedness before Him. But Christ wants us to come TOWARD Him, not away. Feeling like a monster may be a good sign. It shows you have remorse. You must be sorry for what you have done. Christ came and died specifically for those who have shown sorry. Healthy people have no need for a doctor. It is the sick ones (sorrowful ones)that visit the doctor (Christ.)


When I was 15 years old I found out that my sister was pregnant. I was instantly excited and couldn't wait to be an aunt. I barely even knew that abortion existed at the time. About 3-4 months into my sister's pregnancy my parents convinced her to get an abortion and refused to let me say otherwise. My sister wanted me to go with her for moral support and even though I was against it, I went because I love her. A year later she got pregnant again, and I've been watching my niece grow since.

I've just been trying to find some closure, because lately I've been up at night with nightmares thinking about my sisters abortion. Its been 3 years since that happened but as I've watched my niece grow, I've been noticing my mind going back to that awful day. I know its lame for me to go on this chat cite but I'm getting a little desperate. I can't sleep anymore and it's really driving me crazy.

I have dreams about the baby going in pain, and its awful to think that such an innocent little person had to go like that, especially with my niece around. So I just wanted to know for sure if abortion hurts the baby or not, but it seems that no one will give me a straight answer.



Unfortunately yes, unborn babies can feel pain, usually by 20 weeks gestation.

“Having administered anesthesia for fetal surgery, I know that on occasion we need to administer anesthesia directly to the fetus, because even at these early gestational ages the fetus moves away from the pain of the stimulation,” stated David Birnbach, M.D., president of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology and self-described as “pro-choice,” in testimony before the U.S. Congress.

Although I am delighted to see mental health professionals addressing post-abortion emotional/psychological issues, I am concerned about its connection with Priests for Life. Those I have met in the Pro-Life movement have always been judgemental, condescending, unwilling to take into consideration the circumstances of the woman, unforgiving and downright un-Christian. Jesus said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." He also advocated listening and forgiving. Now to my question, how will a young woman who has made this difficult decision, find peace, forgiveness and rightness with God in an atmosphere of derision and condemnation? The Pro-Life groups that the Father is associated with have said that abortion is wrong in ALL circumstances, even when the life of the mother is at stake, even in the case of rape. Does God love the mother any less than the unborn child? Does God care about the psychological damage of being forced to carry the product of her rapists' violence? I believe He does. However, since the groups associated with Priests for Life do not, in the sense that they are against abortion in ALL circumstances, how can a woman expect anything but more of the "You're going to Hell" rhetoric that has forced them to deal with their grief and their separation from God is silence to begin with?


First of all, if no one has answered you I apologize. Let's take your questions one at a time.

Does God love the mother any less than the unborn child? No. In fact Jesus talks about how much rejoicing there will be when one comes back to the flock, so to speak.

Does God care about the psychological damage of being forced to carry the product of her rapists' violence? I cannot speak directly to God's areas of concern but we know that He loves all people, regardless of their state in life. Jesus came to bring us to Heaven, not to keep us out. Jesus would want healing for the victim of rape more than you or I could imagine.

Finally, to your bigger point about the Priests for Life. I cannot speak directly for them either as I am a therapist. But in EVERY SINGLE retreat I have served on, I have never seen anyone should the least bit of judgmentalism. Usually we have to help the woman from her OWN judgment. The work of Rachel's Vineyard is pro-life in the sense that we don't want abortion to occur and we don't want women to suffer from abortion. The focus of the retreats are on the WOMAN. We do not pass out "pro-life" literature etc. We pass out forgiveness and healing. A lot of pro-life groups are in the business of PREVENTING an abortion. We are hear to deal with the consequences AFTER the abortion. Those of us who serve on the retreats have had discussions about pro-life groups that are well-intentioned but lack the proper concern for the women. They sometimes forget women in their crusade to save babies. But Rachel's Vineyard is for just those women.

I hope this helped.

Robert R. Cassman, MA, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
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