I had an abortion at the age of thirteen. My parents were upstanding church-goers, though really, my family had no boundaries. One night I met a boy at a disco, and he suggested meeting up. I was impressed with him because all the other girls liked him, and so I went ahead. I didn’t see it at the time, but looking back, I can see he was a sexual predator. It was not violent, but it was rape.
When I told my mother I was pregnant, she found an advert about having an abortion. To my parents, this was the only option, and that was how they presented it to me. They took me to a Marie Stopes advisor, and she advised me on how to get an abortion. No alternatives were discussed with me. My mother and I went on the boat to Liverpool, to an abortion clinic there. At the clinic, a nurse explained the process to me, about how an instrument would be used to cut up the baby in the womb, and how the baby body parts would then be sucked out and thrown away. She was being cruel, but in hindsight, she was the only person who was honest with me. I felt so lonely at the clinic, I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I went back to school within the next few days. After the abortion, my performance at school went downhill drastically.
For the next thirty-seven years, I was unhappy. I had long bouts of loneliness, despite having many friends and going to many parties. I masked the pain with alcohol and drugs. I detested men, and had difficulty forming relationships. I talked with pastors, psychiatrists and psychologists, worried that I wasn’t able to grieve the deaths of friends and family. I later linked that to the fact I had never grieved the death of my aborted baby. I had a successful career, but also had thoughts of suicide. I married and then divorced, and then became involved in an obsessive relationship with another man. I now attribute some of the difficulties within those relationships to the abortion. The abortion had a far greater impact on me and my life than either the rape itself, or the trauma of travelling to England for the abortion.
For all those years I looked for healing from the scars, but could never really find the help I needed. However, I always had hope that I would one day find healing and freedom from this dark secret. When my mother died, I started on a journey of rediscovery of my faith. I heard about a bible study from the family worker at my church, called Surrendering the Secret. With some trepidation, I began the eight-week study, and this was the start of the healing process for me, although it was difficult and painful. By week four, I was on the verge of giving up, but with support, I persevered, and was finally able to reach healing. I feel I am alive today because of that healing journey; I can cry real tears of grief over pain and loss, which is actually wonderful.
I am happy to talk to anyone who will listen to my story. I find myself having deep conversations about abortion with people I hardly know – I have a story to tell and because I know it is the truth, I want to tell it. I believe God wants me to speak to people, including those in the media and politicians.