Support After Abortion‘s first ever Healing Network Virtual Conference featured Jody Duffy, the group’s new Military and Veterans Coordinator who works to “expand the outreach to military personnel and veterans globally.” On a recent Facebook Live event, Duffy shared her personal story of undergoing an abortion after experiencing military sexual trauma (MST) and emphasized the need for organizations working with post-abortive women to determine if they are veterans or active military personnel in order to screen them for MST.
Unhealed MST can directly impede women’s ability to heal from abortion, as the abortion healing process can trigger that past military sexual trauma experience. Duffy emphasized that in order to heal from abortion, women first need to experience healing from military sexual trauma even if the abortion was not directly related to the MST.
According to Support After Abortion’s “Healing for Military Veterans” page, an estimated 20-40% of females in the armed forces experience rape or attempted rape during their military careers.
Duffy stated that she went to officer candidate school to get a commission in 1980, just four years after the integration of men and women in the military. Just a few weeks from the end of the program, she and several fellow female soldiers went to the Officers Club to socialize one weekend. There, she met an officer who had been commissioned in the class one year ahead of hers. They went out that weekend, and the weekend following, and during that second weekend, he raped her.
Having moved to a different base several weeks later after receiving her commission as an officer, Duffy met another officer who wanted to date her. When she told him about her sexual assault, he agreed to be just friends. Shortly thereafter, she suspected that she was pregnant from the rape, and when the pregnancy was confirmed, her new friend arranged for and drove her to an abortion facility 80 miles away for an abortion. Duffy got a doctor’s note to be exempted from physical training for a few weeks, but otherwise she said she “went back to work like nothing happened.”
While Duffy met her husband not long after, telling him of her traumatic experiences “within the first two weeks” of dating “because I didn’t want it to be a secret,” she did not speak of her abortion to anyone else for 19 years until she began experiencing sudden and unexpected grief.
At a March for Life event in Atlanta in early 2000, she received information about abortion recovery healing, and as she healed from her own abortion, she came to realize there was a need for women who have abortions following military sexual trauma to heal from the MST first. She cautioned that “an abortion healing program will trigger [the traumatic memories of the assault]. They need to be healed from that first.”
During her presentation at the virtual conference, Jody urged abortion healing programs to utilize this knowledge in their work with post-abortive women, noting that “something as simple as an intake form with an option to tick a box if one is serving in the military or has served can help identify those who may require healing from MST, PTSD, or an abortion.”
Our military families are the backbone of our military. So, the soldier who has an unhealed wife at home or an unhealed teenage daughter at home is going to be affected by them not being healed. When you’re a military family, you have a lot of stress all the time. You’re moving all the time, deployments, lots of stress. So, mom’s not healed, mom’s falling apart because dad’s getting deployed again. They moved again, there’s another deployment and she breaks down and maybe doesn’t realize that a lot of this was triggered by a past abortion that she hasn’t healed from. So, we need to get her healed too.
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