Abortion and Reenacting Sexual Abuse: Forbidden Grief

Abortion and Reenacting Sexual Abuse: An Expert's View Theresa Burke, Ph.D., with David C. Reardon   The following is excerpted from the book Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion by Theresa Burke, Ph.D., with David C. Reardon. It has been my experience that a high proportion of women suffering post-abortion trauma also have histories of molestation, sexual abuse, or incest. Most other post-abortion counselors with whom I deal have reported a similar observation. In a survey of women in post-abortion counseling groups, 21 percent reported a history of childhood physical abuse and 24 percent reported childhood sexual abuse.1 And in a random sample survey of the general population, Dianne Russell reports that approximately one in three girls is sexually abused before age 18 and one in four is abused by age 14. These alarming statistics have a good deal to do with patterns of abuse and crisis. Sexual abuse, at any age, can impair one’s ability to be healthy in the present. Sexual abuse is even more injurious when it is experienced during the formative years of childhood, since the distortions sexual trauma inflict can be deeper, more stunting, and more ingrained into the child’s developing personality.2 Sexual abuse survivors describe a sense of lost selves, wounded souls, and stolen psyches. It was not until television talk shows began to open the window on the experiences of those affected by sexual abuse that millions of people received permission to talk openly about this issue. They began to examine the reality and prevalence of sexual abuse and started to discuss the wide-ranging detrimental effects it has caused in their...