Archive for April, 2018

I Spoke to A Group of Teenagers About My Abortion. I Was Amazed by Their Response

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Silent No More
[Kathy Gonzales is a Regional Coordinator with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Kathy recently had the opportunity to share with high school students about her abortion at age 20. I was curious how her message was received by the youth and Kathy agreed to share about her experience. – Kevin Burke]

Kathy: Valerie Jacobs from Rachel’s Vineyard Seattle asked me to talk to a religious education youth group…8th to 12th graders. I prayed about the event and asked for guidance. The Lord told me to revisit where I was as an 8th grader and share with the students the path that led me to my abortion at age twenty.

Reflecting back on that time, I wanted to share with the youth that in many cases the abortion doesn’t occur as an isolated event in someone’s life. My story reveals that the path to abortion at age 20 began years earlier.  One sin led to another sin. Others, a relative or friend for example, can play an important role in opening the door to darkness in our lives.

So, I shared with the teenagers about my childhood abuse, drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, involvement in the occult. I hope the talk opens up an opportunity for the teachers to revisit some of these issues that can open the door to sin and to life changing events like unplanned pregnancy and abortion.

Most, importantly, I shared how God revealed his great love and the healing I experience in Rachel’s Vineyard.

According to one of the parents I spoke with after my talk, he claimed it was the first night that they didn’t have to discipline the kids for being noisy and off track, or worse…lethargic and bored.

One girl came up afterwards and she hugged me for the longest time and kept thanking me for talking to them. I would say that of all the talks I have given this one struck me as the most meaningful, and I am thankful for the opportunity.

I concluded the evening by passing out fifty fetal models (at ten weeks gestation.)  The models I believe help bring what can be very abstract in the minds of many people, particularly teens, to something tangible and real. I encouraged the students to keep the model as a reminder to pray for babies in danger of abortion.

I am continually amazed at how God so loves me…loves all of us. I pray that others will consider inviting a regional representative of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign for the youth and young adults in their community.

[Speakers are available from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to share their abortion testimony at your high school, youth group or college. You can contact us at mail@silentnomore.com for more information.]

God Bless
Kathy Gonzales – RC Silent No More

The Judas Option: How Self-Sabotage After Abortion Nearly Took My Life

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Judas Option

By David

Self Sabotage…You probably don’t think of it as abuse.

But it can be the most pernicious form of abuse.

It’s abusive to yourself and to those who love you.

I know this subject well. For most of my adult life I did nearly everything I could to thwart my own happiness.  It came very close to taking my life.

Building the False Façade

I came from an emotionally abusive home where my job was to be the peace keeper. I was set up to fail in this impossible task in a dysfunctional and crazy home environment.  As I failed as a child and young adult to restore order out of this chaos, my parents, especially my mother, continuously reinforced a message within me – I wasn’t good enough.

I left home for college as a man with incredibly low self-esteem and not a lot of self-confidence. I managed to hide all of that under a façade that I presented to the world.

I was blessed with smarts, a good sense of humor, and not a bad looking guy.  So, I learned to act like a person who had those qualities – though deep down, I believed none of it.

My freshman year of college I began dating a beautiful lady named Karen. Karen was pre-med; she was smart, attractive and seemed to come from a good family.

In the last semester of her senior year, we got pregnant.

To have the baby would mean giving up medical school for her and force me to drop out of college. Planned Parenthood assured us that there was no baby yet, it was just a blob of cells. For only $300 they told me, our lives could go on as planned.

We stayed with my parents during this time and went to the Planned Parenthood center for the abortion. After the procedure she was still foggy from the anesthesia. Karen was crying and through her tears she said “They took my baby. I saw them take my baby.”

Our relationship began to decline from that day forward. Within a year we broke up.  I blamed myself for being such a loser that I couldn’t take care of her or my kid.  Not a day went by that I didn’t think about the abortion.

When good times would come in the back of my mind I would have the thought…“Yeah, times are good, but don’t forget you killed your kid.”  I would not allow myself to experience joy.  If that joy did break through my wall of self hatred – I did not to trust it and certainly did not to feel I deserved it.

Drifting…into Deeper Darkness

I worked at a radio station as a program director and DJ for a couple of years out of school, drifting from one meaningless encounter with women after another. Truthfully there wasn’t even that much sex involved.  I wouldn’t allow myself to get that close most of the time.

I truly felt that everyone was better than me and I was putting on a good act, but if the truth about the real me ever came out it would be devastating.   So I never talked to anyone about the abortion.

I met Joanne at the radio station. We began a sexual relationship and while we thought we were being careful after a few months she was pregnant.  At the time I was thinking, well this sucks, but at least I can do things the right way this time.  I told Joanne I would support her and the baby as best I could.

But that first abortion left me damaged and weakened as a man and a father.  When Joanne told me she was thinking about getting an abortion, I didn’t try to talk her out of it.  I didn’t fight for the life of our child and instead told her, “I will support you no matter what you decide.”

Her friend let me know that Joanne had the abortion. For a minute I felt relieved, but then I was overcome by guilt and shame.  Once again, I didn’t do my duty as a man.  I let my kid be killed.  A short time later, Joanne moved away without a word to me.  To this day I have no idea what happened to her.

Not long, I met Kathy.   I’ve never met anyone as honest and decent-hearted as she is.  I felt Kathy was out of my league.  I really felt that I in no way deserved her.

Even after we married, I lived in constant fear that she would find out who I really was.

Creating a False World

Here’s the thing about self-sabotage. It’s not something you consciously plan out.  I didn’t wake up in the morning thinking, “Here’s how I’m going to screw up my relationship, today.”

Rather it’s a slow progression of selfish acts that build upon each other, fed by the inner demons that reinforce the lie that you’re a worthless human being. My fear that Kathy would discover the real me led to me create a false world for us to live in.

I didn’t tell her that we had money problems because I didn’t want her do without – that would reinforce my sense of being a loser. So, I took out credit cards that she didn’t know about.  The net result was that I bankrupted us twice.

Through all of this, I thought about the abortion every day.

I only told Kathy about the abortion with Karen. I lied about of a lot of other things to keep up the false front.  But as Kathy uncovered the truth, it began a process of slowly, steadily, eroding her trust in me.

On top of that I had this weird, irrational anger that would come up.  I would be verbally abusive, passive aggressive, and well, to put it politely, a real jerk.  I would try to make her think that she was the one with the problem.

Fortunately amidst all this suffering Kathy had converted to Catholicism after 15 years of marriage. I was raised Catholic but had been away from the Church since college.  Her embracing Catholicism inspired me to return to the practice of my faith, and I came back in a big way.

I became active in my parish and served as a Eucharistic minister, lector, I helped teach RCIA, I was on the Respect Life Committee, and served on various parish councils. People were constantly telling me I should become a deacon.

While I appreciated the respect and regard people had for me, in my heart I knew it was a façade. If these people knew that I had two abortions in my past they would disown me for sure.

I was living a lie.

Marriage Tipping Point

All that pain from childhood and later the two abortions continued to hurt Kathy and attack our marriage. We finally hit a tipping point where Kathy told me I needed to get help, or she would have to leave.

I went to speak with a priest, Fr Peter. I told him what was going on, and he asked me if I had ever been involved with an abortion. I was shocked he knew to ask that.

I confessed to him my story and Fr Peter told me about Rachael’s Vineyard.  I was so tired of thinking about the abortion every day for the last couple of decades and I was ready to get help.

I expressed to Fr Peter that I was worried I would be the only man on the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. He playfully punched me in the arm and said, “Well, if that’s the case, blessed are you among women.”   Kathy was kind enough to attend the weekend with me.

The retreat was overwhelmingly amazing. I named my kids Anthony and Claire.  I also became the godfather of the unborn child of a dear college friend whom I had driven to an abortion center when she became pregnant from a one-night-stand.

I’ll never forget Saturday evening of the retreat, standing around the bowl of lit candles floating in that holy water, each one representing our children lost to abortion. For just for a brief moment, I heard my children’s laughter.  I started to believe that they forgave me as much as Christ had.

The Judas Option 

I wish I could say that the story ends here, that we went on to live happily ever after.

The truth is, the retreats exposed the light of truth to the lie I had been living, but my old habits and beliefs were not miraculously cured.  I struggled to fully embrace the forgiveness of Christ and that of my children.

But I believe I drew upon the grace of that healing weekend during a coming time of dark and dangerous temptation.

Things got better for Kathy and me for a while, but gradually the inner demons began their endless reminder that “Okay, Christ forgave you, but that doesn’t change what a loser you are.”

The pattern of self-sabotage returned along with my abusive behavior.  It was too much, and Kathy I separated.

Three years ago I had a three-month assignment for my work in South Bend InKaren. It was Easter Weekend and I was alone.  No one in my family invited me to spend the holiday with them even though they knew Kathy and I were separated.

I went to the Easter Vigil Mass and wept for joy for those people coming into the faith.  But I also wept with despair at the reality that I was alone.  I had sabotaged my life so bad that no one wanted to be with me.

The darkness of that rejection and pain took hold of my heart and I set out on a path of anguish and temptation.

Rather than focusing on the Resurrection and the forgiveness of Peter’s denial in the Easter story, I became preoccupied with the experience of Judas Iscariot. Judas had sold his soul for some silver.  Not all that different than me selling my unborn kids out, selling my marriage out…all for my own agenda.

And what was his solution? Yes, Judas killed himself.

Finally, an answer I thought. What do I possibly have to live for?  I’m alone with no prospects of a better life in sight.  I have a job.  So, what?  In betraying Kathy, my kids, myself, I ultimately betrayed Christ.  Yes, the ultimate act of self-sabotage must be the answer.

I deserved the same fate as Judas.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I just kept thinking about Judas.  Christ had forgiven him, but that wasn’t enough.  That’s exactly where I was.

The next day I walked along the Riverwalk of the St. Joseph River that runs through South Bend.  I crossed onto a bridge that spanned the river and stopped in the middle.

I looked down into the fast-moving current.  I knew the water was very cold and deep.  I figured I would probably succumb to hypothermia within five minutes.  I imagined what drowning would feel like. The suffering wouldn’t last too long.  I just had to work up the courage to take the leap.

Suddenly, in the distance, I heard the church bells of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church where I had attended Mass the night before. I could see the parking lot about a quarter mile away from the bridge.  I watched families all dressed for Easter filing out of the church.

And then the thought hit me.

Is this how I want Kathy to remember me? Is this really the way I want to meet my kids?   Could I really kill myself in a river named after St. Joseph?

I stepped away from the edge of the bridge and quickly walked off it. I found a park bench and wept.

Soon after, I went back to St. Joseph’s church and confessed to a priest, Fr Kevin, about my experience. Fr Kevin helped me more than the countless therapists I had seen over the years.  He helped me see that the negative self-talk I engaged in need not have such power over me or define who I was.

This wise priest awakened me to the reality that the negative thoughts were like a flock of birds flying overhead.  I had no power to stop the birds from flying over, but I did have a choice of whether I allowed them to land on me.

My future meetings with Father Kevin all included the sacrament of confession. While it was Father Kevin talking to me, Christ was the true counselor in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Once a week, I would go to confession and sit down with Our Lord.  His grace led me to realize that I may have negative thoughts, but I always have the power to not engage them.  With God’s grace, I simply choose not to engage them.  The more I don’t engage the less power they have over my life.

The Lord Heard My Cry for Mercy

A little over a year ago, Kathy and I reconciled. The two years we were apart we both used to get the help we needed.  We had kept in touch during this time and managed to stay friends.

I know the love we had for each other never went away, but we could not stay together while I was continuously sabotaging myself and our marriage.  I’m happy to say our marriage is better than it has ever been.

The inner struggle? Yeah, it’s still there, and maybe always will be, but I have those negative messages under the power of Christ and his love so they have no power over me any longer.

In closing I share two songs; one a contemporary tune by Julia Brenna that has been a source of inspiration and comfort to me.

The other is a much older song from the grateful heart of Israel’s King David. This David also suffered through his own journey into the darkness of sin and death.  David’s sins, to his horror and anguish, brought great pain upon his family and nation.

Yet King David learned from this tragedy to trust in the Lord’s saving power, and experienced in time, restoration and salvation, reflected in this beautiful psalm:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me,  I will call on him as long as I live.

 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me;     I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. (Psalm 116: 1-6)

To Learn More about the impact of abortion on Men:

Tears of the Fisherman: Recovery for Men Wounded by Abortion by Kevin Burke, LSW

Register Your Abortion Regret with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.  You can sign up to receive a newsletter every month highlighting opportunities to be Silent No More along with news about the Campaign.

The Men and Abortion Network    Our Mission:  To promote emotional healing for men who have lost a child to abortion, and to create awareness among the counseling community, the pro-life movement and society as a whole regarding the impact of abortion on millions of these hurting fathers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Help to Men Hurting After Abortion

Friday, April 6th, 2018

MAN

[Bradley Mattes is a founding member of the Men and Abortion Network.  As Bradley shares in this important article, even if only a small percentage of men are impacted, there are millions of fathers who are experiencing psychological and spiritual distress after abortion and in need of help. 

Bradley introduces an ongoing service of the Men and Abortion Network – one that we hope to expand – a nationwide network of trained peer counselors and pastors who can mentor hurting fathers through the grieving process. – Kevin Burke]

 

Getting Help to Men

By Bradley Mattes

Over the last decade-and-a-half, considerable advances have been made in generating awareness within the pro-life movement that men who have lost a child to abortion can, and do, suffer from emotional fallout.

The question people often ask is, “How many men are affected by abortion?”

The most comprehensive analysis of abortion’s effect on men is presented in a book entitled Men and Abortion: Lessons, Losses and Love by Arthur B. Shostak, Gary McLouth and Lynn Seng. Based upon information extrapolated from their data, approximately eight percent[1] of fathers who’ve lost a child to abortion suffer psychologically.

To date there have been 60 million abortions which has generated nearly five million “walking-wounded” fathers who struggle day-to-day with abortion’s lingering impact.

This is a conservative number due to many more men who are affected to lesser degrees. Abortion’s resultant carnage on men is unfathomable. For example, no research been done to confirm our suspicions that a vast number of men in America’s prison system may have a history of abortion which contributed to their incarceration.

The good news is that we have a grassroots, nationwide network of trained peer counselors and pastors who can mentor hurting fathers through the grieving process. The most effective way to do this is with a biblically-based program. However, we are ready, willing and able to assist men with no religious affiliation.

Additional good news is that several programs have been developed and are being used to transform grieving men into new creations through the blood of Christ.

These encouraging developments, however, present a challenge of how to match hurting fathers with the help they so desperately need. That too has made promising gains but remains a work in progress.

The Men and Abortion Network (MAN) is a small ad hoc group of men and women who individually or as an organization have experience on a national or international level of promoting healing and creating awareness regarding the issue of men who have experienced abortion loss.

Further, MAN has developed a website exclusively for men who have adverse symptoms resulting from abortion loss. The site primarily serves two purposes.

First, it provides a nationwide referral network for a man who is struggling after abortion. With no cost to him, he can request a trained mentor near his location. Credentialed counselors are also available.

If a man seeks anonymity, we can still assist him. All that is required is a city, state, zip code and email address. Additional information is helpful to provide the best support available, but it is not required. His privacy is paramount. If possible, we try to match him with a mentor from his same religious background.

Second, the men and abortion website provides a wealth of resources to assist fathers:

– New articles by MAN members are posted every month. A variety of Bible studies are available to walk with men through the grieving and healing process.

– Books, authored by experts in the field, give additional, in-depth information.

– Website visitors can also find brochures that summarize why men are affected, identify possible symptoms and share ways in which these symptoms can be treated.

– In addition, half-hour video and audio programming are available.

Research on men who have experienced abortion loss is limited, however, helpful data is posted on the website.

Is God Calling you to Serve as a Mentor to Men Hurting after Abortion?

Now our most pressing need is to expand the network of trained mentors and reach out to fathers who may be suffering.

The need is great, so if you or someone you know may be well-suited to assist this crucial work, please contact us here at the Men and Abortion Network if you feel God’s urging. We can provide the assistance and resources you need to be tools of the Holy Spirit.

It is an amazing thing to see the Holy Spirit at work through us as we witness the transformation of these dads. When you help a father, you impact an entire family.

[1] C.T. Coyle, Ph.D., Men and Abortion, A Path to Healing, 1999, p. 27.

Bradley Mattes is president of Life Issues Institute, the pro-life grassroots partner of the Susan B. Anthony List Education Fund. He is a founding member of MAN and has done considerable anecdotal research on the effects of abortion on men. His writings on this topic have been printed in US and international publications. He has a master’s degree in Biblical Studies and Biblical Counseling from Master’s International University of Divinity and has written undergraduate and post-graduate courses on men and abortion. He serves as a peer counselor to men who’ve lost a child to abortion.