For support persons

Everywoman's mural form our original location

If you are able to show her that you care, listen to her in a non-judgmental way, and be physically and emotionally present when she needs you, you can make a huge difference in her experience. Here are some general tips on how to be a caring and effective support person during this time and how to also take care of yourself during this process. (You can find specific information on how to support a woman during a pregnancy decision/before an abortion here and how to support someone after an abortion here.)

• Let her know you care about and want to be there for her. It’s a good idea to ask her how she feels and what would help her most. She may not know the answer or be able to articulate her feelings or needs, but even just being asked can often make someone feel better. It is also important not to assume what she is feeling or what her needs are – it’s always good to check in.

• Never underestimate the power of just listening. You do not need to have the solution. Try to allow her to talk about the decision and/or experience as many times as she needs to. However, it’s best not to try to make her talk if she does not want to. She may not know how to tell you what she is feeling, or she may want to think things over herself before she puts her thoughts into words.

• You can acknowledge any feelings she is having without trying to “fix” them or brush them aside. Emotions like nervousness, sadness or feeling overwhelmed are normal responses to an abortion experience and it can be helpful for women to be able to express that.

• If you are her partner, be affectionate if she welcomes it, but be prepared for her to not want to be sexual. Do not put any pressure on her to do so.

• Many women need their support people close to them during a time like this. However, for other women the most important thing they need is space. If this is what she asks for, then try to give her time to process the experience on her own or with other people close to her.

• There are lots of great ways to offer practical as well as emotional help. This can include transportation to and from appointments, childcare, help with getting or preparing food, or even just making sure she has the things that bring her comfort during a stressful/difficult time. Doing something special for her can help both of you feel better.

• Try to make room for both positive and negative emotions. For example, some women feel mainly relief around an abortion, and that is normal. Others feel mixed emotions including sadness, fear, feeling overwhelmed, grief, and anger. These are also normal. She needs to define her own experience, even if it is different from what you think it should be.

• You may also be having difficulties related to the pregnancy and/or abortion. Or, you may find acting as a support person is taking a toll on you. Do not expect the woman involved to be able to take care of your needs – she needs to focus on her own right now. However, do get the support you need to work through your feelings and remember to take good care of yourself when you are caring for others. If you have mixed or conflicted feelings about the situation, you may not be in the best position to be a support person. You do not have to be the only person that she turns to for help and perhaps you or she may benefit from seeing a counsellor. Ask the clinic for resources and referrals or see our links page.

Other Resources

For a Woman’s Partner and/or Support People After an Abortion
How to Help A Friend Through an Abortion

For Male Partners:

Men and abortion

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