When men hear the word “abortion”, it often means something entirely different than when women hear the same word and have experienced an abortion decision. However, there are so few people in our culture, including therapists, practitioners, partners, and medical experts, who not only speak to men in a way they can connect with about abortion but who are able to validate the feelings and emotions men are experiencing.
Greg Hasek, a licensed clinician with more than 20 years of experience, helps men heal from addiction, trauma, and after experiencing an abortion decision. He is adamant that men are being left out of the picture when it comes to validation that yes, they have been hurt by abortion, and that yes, they are allowed to seek help and healing from that decision.
Our culture tells us that men have no place in the abortion decision, that it’s a woman’s choice. This can leave men feeling isolated, alone, and unsure of how to get the help they need or if they even deserve it. Oftentimes, Hasek notes, men come to him dealing with other trauma or addictions and don’t realize the pain the underlying abortion experience is causing them, which almost always contributes in a negative way to their addictions.
But what if mental health professionals and those in healing ministries started approaching the topic of abortion in a totally different way? What if they started asking questions that no one has asked these men before in order to help them connect to the emotions surrounding the abortion experience?
Lost role of fatherhood
“Men don’t connect with the actual trauma that the women go through when they go to the abortion clinic- so we need to ask the question, what was it like for you not to be a dad, to lose that role of not being a father to the child that you lost?,” said Hasek.
As we’ve learned in previous podcasts with Hasek, men and women process trauma very differently. They also bond differently with others, which plays a big part when dealing with trauma and relationships.
Men connect best with each other by doing things together like playing golf, going on expeditions, or enjoying outdoor excursions. They bond by doing not just by talking, and it’s unfair to expect them to sit in a circle and talk about their feelings like women do.
Men bond with their children the same way as they do other adults. They connect with them through physical activity and through that activity, are able to connect with their emotions. This is why Hasek asks men who have gone through an abortion experience how they feel about losing the role of a father or losing that time they would have spent playing ball with their kid. By connecting to the lost role of fatherhood, they can connect to the emotions surrounding the abortion decision in a concrete way.
Hasek asks men this question, one that they most likely have never been asked before.
“It really throws them for a loop. Oftentimes, they freeze up because they are thinking and feeling for the first time ever. They feel so validated when someone asks them this question,” said Hasek.
This is a huge first step in helping a man to start their healing journey. Greg’s work has demonstrated that changes in how abortion is talked about with them can help them connect to their real emotions and makes the experience more real for them. At Support After Abortion, we are developing new curriculms to help men heal from abortion with input from experts like Greg Hasek. We are aiming to get at both the heart and mind of a man who has experienced abortion. We currently have extensive content to help men who are wanting to explore healing from past abortion wounds at our website.
Double father wound
One-third of children grow up without a father in the home. Before these kids even reach the age of 18, they experience a “father wound,” the distress of not having a father or father figure in their home to look up to, to guide them as they become men, to confide in.
This particular would often reveal itself when the man finds himself in a crisis pregnancy with his partner.
Hasek notes that these men don’t have a father to talk to about it. They have to make this crucial decision without ever having an engaged father in their life. They may freeze or default to the culture, which tells them abortion is a woman’s decision. It is in this situation where men may come across to their partners as uncaring, mean, or selfish. But, in reality, they are in a state of trauma and it comes across in ways that put the man in a poor light.
“A shift in perspective is needed when it comes to talking about not only abortion and men but how we can validate the feelings these men are dealing with,” Hasek said.
If a man has a father wound in his past and then experiences an abortion decision, he now has a double father wound. He has no father or father figure and the abortion decision has caused him to lose the role of fatherhood. This can be devastating for a man and lead him spiraling towards addiction or even PTSD. Compassion for men suffering a double father wound is key for healing to take place.
Men need validation
Remember, today’s culture tells men they shouldn’t hurt from abortion, much less be involved in one in any capacity. That’s a woman’s issue, culture says. And many men who come to Greg Hasek for counseling are going for something other than abortion such as a sex addiction, PTSD, or other trauma. Hasek has found that 30 to 40 percent of his patients who have an addiction also have an impact from abortion. They need healing from trauma just like women do but in a completely different way. They also need validation. They need someone to say, yes, I hear you, I see you, and what you are feeling is real.
Knowing that they need validation and doing it can be two different things. Most people just don’t know how to validate a man who has gone through an abortion experience.
One thing anyone should do first is not mention the word “abortion”, Hasek suggests. Men don’t process that word the same as women. They will be able to connect with the abortion through the role of lost fatherhood.
Validating their wounds can be as simple as saying, “This must be really difficult for you, not being able to fill that fatherhood role.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how to speak to someone who experienced abortion in the past and may be dealing with both the mental and physical ramifications of the decision, Life Perspectives offers excellent training and certification. And at Support After Abortion, we are hosting experts like Greg Hasek at the Unraveling Roots of Men’s Trauma conference and his presentation is available to watch online. We’ll be exploring this issue, as well as others that are overlooked when it comes to men healing from abortion trauma. They need to connect to their emotions in order to start healing and connection to feelings isn’t always easy for men.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by abortion, you are not alone. Call or text our confidential hopeline at 844-289-HOPE (4673). Women, this is your call: if your partner, male loved one or friend has had an abortion, visit us at www.supportafterabortion.com to learn how to create a safe space, and create dialogue so more men can receive hope and healing after abortion.