Angeline Steenstra, Post-abortive Rape Survivor
Angelina Steenstra’s Story — rape survivor who regrets aborting her child conceived by rape. Angelina is the President and Co-founder of Second Chance Post Abortion Healing, and is also the National Coordinator of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign Canada. She is from the Toronto area and is available for speaking — Asteenstra@sympatico.ca 905-430-7990, 647-330-9749 (cell)
I had an abortion to erase a date rape and I regret it to this day! I was driven by fear. I was told abortion was no big deal — that it would solve my problem. Finally, I caved into my fears and made the phone call that would end the life of my child and begin a lifetime of suffering and regret.
The saleswoman on the other end of the phone skillfully confirmed all my fears — the fear of being ridiculed, rejected, a bad example to my siblings, of losing the love of my immediate and extended family, of being a single mother, of my inability to care for another, of not finishing school. She told me to find some friends to lend me $250 and to drive me to the abortuary.
Deeply conflicted, I went to Buffalo NY and underwent a surgical abortion. I was awake for the procedure. During the abortion, I felt panic, disbelief, and shame as I placed my feet in the metal stirrups. I felt the icy cold instruments enter my body. I felt the intense physical pain of the baby being scraped from the wall of my womb. I heard the sound of a high pitched vacuum cleaner that vacuumed out her remains. I saw the bottle next to my right foot fill up with the bloody remains of my child. I felt the horror of “What have I done?”I was filled with helplessness, shock and instant regret before it was even over. I began to cry uncontrollably — it all happened so fast. There was no turning back, no reversing the contents of the bottle. It was such a horrible reality — so very final!
Instantly, I knew what I had done was wrong. I knew it deep inside. I had been an accomplice in death. I had broken the law to not kill another human person. I knew that I could never again be the person I was before going into the abortion centre! I was changed forever! The realization was so devastating — I wanted to die. I remember thinking, “I hate you. You will never be able to fix this!”
I was given a sedative to make me sleep. I hoped I would never wake up.On the way home while crying, I lied to the women next to me when asked if I was okay.
As time went on I changed my name, my job, my address, friends and behavior all in an effort to start over. But I could not get away from myself, and the all pervading sense of guilt and shame. The secret was always there. I lived in a prison of self-rejection, self-hatred, and self-condemnation. It didn’t matter what anyone said to justify abortion — it could not undo the truth of what I saw, heard and felt on the day of the abortion.
I turned to alcohol, drugs and sexual affairs to numb the pain. I fell away from friends and family. My life spun out of control and I became suicidal.I went to a therapist for help hoping he would tell me what I knew deep down — that the abortion was wrong and that it was at the root of my depression and self-destructive behavior. But I found no help, only denial.
I turned away from suicide when a help line validated the truth that I knew deep inside — abortion is wrong because it took the life of another human person. I experienced so much relief that I thought the abortion was behind me.
Shortly thereafter, I married. The abortion again took front and centre while standing at the altar on my wedding day. As I said “yes” to accepting children, I found myself saying secretly to myself, “in five years.” Fear was driving me. Pregnancy, babies, doctors all made me afraid. It wasn’t long before I found myself becoming a workaholic to avoid going home, to avoid the marital embrace, to avoid pregnancy. I could not let myself think about having a baby, about being a mother.
I starved myself as punishment for the abortion. I smoked two packages of cigarettes a day all in an effort to swallow the pain. By the third year of marriage, I had a physical and emotional breakdown, which led to a leave of absence from my job. I could not cope.
I was in a “catch 22″ — I wanted to want to have children, but I was so afraid. And not being able to conceive only added to my distress. Was I being punished for the abortion? My mental anguish was acute. Abortion connectors were everywhere. The sound of vacuum cleaners could drive me to extreme anger. I avoided the dentist because of the sound of the drill. I remembered every
Anniversary date of the abortion.
Finally, another side effect of abortion — ectopic pregnancy — broke down the walls of lies and deceit that had kept me a prisoner. Rushed to Emergency with internal bleeding that had gone on for three days, I was told that I was 9 to 10 weeks pregnant. The baby was growing in the fallopian tube which had ruptured. I was in danger of losing my life.
After much resistance, I agreed to the surgery to save my life and remove the baby. How was this different from abortion?
And thus began my healing from the abortion of 14 years earlier. As I accepted the death of our son Joseph Michael Steenstra, I grieved his loss, as did those around me. As I grieved Joseph, I questioned myself — was not the abortion also a loss that needed to be grieved? And what did I need to grieve?
One day, I found the courage to face the truth of abortion by looking at an image of a developing child who died through abortion. I faced the ugliness of abortion. I wept for what I had allowed to happen to my first child. I wept for the loss of her life, for the loss of her geneology. The truth brought tears of healing and freedom. I researched the topic of post abortion aftermath. I read about other people’s experiences, which helped me to name and own my experience.
I personalized my child, and named her Sarah Elizabeth. I acknowledged that I needed to be forgiven for saying “yes” to her death. The hardest thing to do was to imagine her in front of me, looking me in the eye while I asked, ”Would you please forgive Mommy for allowing you to be killed by abortion?” As hard as that was, it was the most liberating step I ever took. I know I am forgiven by my children. I have forgiven myself and have been forgiven by those around me who were also affected by my decision. I have integrated the experience into my life and through it, have helped many others to pick up the pieces of their lives after abortion.
I will be silent no more because abortion took the lives of my children — Sarah through surgical abortion, and Joseph through an ectopic pregnancy caused by an STD contracted in the years while acting out my self-hatred. Abortion did not erase the date rape, and it did not liberate me. Abortion impoverished me and those around me by eliminating many lives. To this day, I regret my abortion!