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Symptoms

Man"Men do not always recognize the symptoms they experience as having their roots in an abortion decision -- but scratch the surface and you will see it. ... They may struggle to make commitments, to be emotionally present to their current wives and children, to embrace their role as spiritual and moral leader in the home ... deep down they know they compromised that authority when they aborted their son or daughter in the past." Kevin Burke

Perhaps the most consistent and evident symptom in men due to loss of a child from abortion is anger, accompanied by grief, shame, guilt and remorse. Feelings of profound hopelessness and helplessness are common. Abortion rewrites the rules of masculinity. It leaves him wounded and confused. Failed relationships are often caused by abortion. Many couples sweep the abortion under the rug, but the emotional pain and stress cannot be ignored. They often vow to never speak of the “event” again, but the other person is a daily reminder of what will never be.

A man may throw himself into activity following an abortion, avoiding the pain and instead focuses on what he can accomplish. Therefore, there is a delay or “masking” of grief responses. So it appears as if he is either unaffected by the loss of his child or that he is being ‘strong’ in the face of trauma.

Men’s emotional reactions following abortion vary widely.

  • Men who opposed the abortion might feel anger and helplessness immediately.
  • Men who encouraged the woman to have an abortion or at least supported her decision might not feel the impact until years later when an event—marriage, pregnancy, the birth of a child—brings the emotions to the surface.
  • He May…
    • Turn to alcohol and drugs to dull the pain of feeling he participated in or was too "weak" to prevent the death of his unborn baby.
    • Become a workaholic to avoid contact with other people or in a desperate effort to succeed in a crucial aspect of his life.
    • Or, he may be unable to hold a job due to his inability to handle decision making.
    • Have dysfunctional future relationships with women. This lack of control regarding a critical, life-impacting decision often generates considerable resentment and mistrust towards women.
    • Suffer from other forms of sexual dysfunction such as impotency and addiction to pornography and masturbation.
    • Experience sleeplessness, panic attacks, poor coping skills.
    • Experience flashbacks, nightmares or self-imposed isolation.

Information obtained from research by Catherine Coyle, R.N., Ph.D., David C. Reardon, Ph.D., Bradley Mattes and  Kevin Burke, LCSW.