Real stories that bare the gnarly detail of life are transformative. We’ve all heard them, whether from the lips of a friend, in the newspaper, on the TV, from the lectern at a fundraising function or on the radio. We are intrigued and moved by the way others face their personal battles. Sometimes those battles are the same we are facing right now, and a humble story spoken from a place of vulnerability can inject wisdom, courage and hope where it is so desperately needed.
That’s why we’re putting a call-out for anyone with a story of abortion, or almost-abortion, to come forward.
We know that’s no small undertaking. We know that digging into the past can be painful. And it’s definitely not for everyone. You should carefully consider whether you share or not, and what you choose to share.
But consider this: your story could help a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy right now. Your story could save a life.
In 2011 The Annals of Internal Medicine published the results of a trial that examined the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. Half of the participants listened watched DVDs with personal narratives of people dealing with similar hypertension illnesses, while the other half watched generic DVDs giving impersonal information on stress management and so on.
The group that watched the personal stories experienced a lowered blood pressure as effective as if they had been given more medication.
We know it anecdotally, of course. When we’re facing something unfamiliar or challenging, we often seek out the advice of someone who has experienced it before. Someone who has already travelled to Italy, who has endured radiation treatment for cancer, who dealt with the tantrums of a three-year-old. Women facing unplanned pregnancy, or who have experienced the trauma of abortion, need stories – your story perhaps – to give them courage, hope and understanding.
We also know that the stories we share here, on the Emily’s Voice website, blog and social media pages, are always the ones that get the most hits and engagement. We make sense of the world by exploring our own and others’ stories.
Here are some benefits of storytelling for you to consider
- Sharing your story helps you find your voice.
Giving words to a tough part of your life can help to bring order to the events. It prompts you to find a beginning, middle and end to the experience, and to tease out a moral (something you learned). It helps you articulate the thoughts and feelings that may have been contained entirely in your head up to now. You are the narrator, which is empowering in itself. You can reveal what it was really like.
- Sharing your story begins the process of recovery and healing.
If you keep a trauma bottled up inside, without sharing it to anyone, it will slowly poison you. Maybe not literally, but it can affect your behaviour, your outlook, your mental health and so on. By acknowledging your story, you begin a journey of healing.
- Sharing your story can help others.
The adage, “a mentor’s hindsight can be another’s foresight” applies here. You survived, you’re here to tell the story. The choices you made can have an almighty influence on others – they can learn from your triumphs and challenges. Your story can empower and uplift.
- Sharing your story builds community.
When you’re going through something as hard as an unplanned pregnancy, there’s a lie that commonly threads its way into our thinking: you’re all alone. Yet, when we read the story of someone else who has been through abortion or is facing unplanned pregnancy, suddenly the truth shines. You are never alone. Sharing your story builds a community of like-minded, like-experienced people who can champion one another. Look at the communities built around the shared experience of cancer, parenting children with Down syndrome, reformed alcoholics and premature birth. We can gain the same benefits when we share about abortion.
- Sharing your story is important.
Your story matters. It really does. Not only does it help paint a truthful picture of abortion in Australia, but it validates life. You are an innately valuable human being, just as your baby was. This is not about shame. It’s about celebrating the beauty of life throbbing through our veins.
So, what do you think? Are you in?
We’d love to hear your story and help you share it. We have people who can help you piece it together, if you’re not much of a wordsmith! And we’d be happy to use a pseudonym if you’d prefer to keep your identity private.
Shoot us an email with a little bit about yourself, and we’ll be in touch: