Stephanie Gray

Triggers versus trauma

Stephanie Gray
Image

In the face of our cross country abortion debate game-changer, The New Abortion Caravan, abortion advocates finally got something right: our campaign is a trigger to a trauma, but not a trauma in and of itself.  In a Facebook message by the pro-abortion group “Radical Handmaids,” their post of news coverage of our project was prefaced with this: “TRIGGER WARNING.”

Indeed, our images are a trigger, but just that—a trigger, a reminder. And lots of things act as a reminder to one’s abortion.  When my sister was six months pregnant, she was a trigger for post-abortive women who, had they not aborted, would have been at that same stage of pregnancy.  My 5-year-old niece is also a trigger for post-abortive women who killed their children five years ago and see in her a child they do not have.  And even for one post-abortive woman who was an accomplished pianist, a piano was a trigger as, following her abortion, she napped while her boyfriend played her beloved instrument. Soon after she refused to play it, then sold it, much to the bewilderment of her family.

But I am not bewildered, for abortion is a trauma, and when we have been traumatized, we typically run from that which triggers the trauma—whether another individual or an object.  But running from triggers doesn’t help women heal; rather, it furthers their denial.

And denial is dangerous, for it can lead to repeating past behavior as a way of rationalizing that if one does it again, maybe it wasn’t so bad.  It can lead to encouraging others to commit that same bad behavior as a way of rationalizing that if others do it too, maybe it’s not so bad.  Denial of hard truths leads to destruction of the self and destruction of the other.

As Tobsha Learner once wrote, “A man who denies his past is a man who truly denies himself a future, for he refuses to know himself, and to deny knowledge of oneself is to stumble through life as handicapped as the blind mute.”

Indeed, as painful as it is to acknowledge one has facilitated the destruction of one’s own child, it is only when one takes ownership of that heartbreaking reality that she can make her future better than her past.

That is why I have no qualms admitting that our abortion imagery triggers the trauma of abortion. Triggers are an important reminder of unresolved grief that, to be healed, requires being faced. 

If we are going to EndtheKilling, we need to face the killing.  And we will continue to show the trigger so no more women choose the trauma.

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