real life

'When I had an abortion, my husband told everyone I was a "murderer".'

The author of this piece is known to Mamamia, but has chosen to remain anonymous in telling her sensitive story. 

Jake* and I were once perceived as the “Golden Couple” in our friendship group, and in fact, we thought we were.

Together, we did a lot of work trying to be better people. Meditation, reading books on spirituality and spending time in nature were an integral part of our lives.

Jake and I were part of a community that had a number of alternative beliefs. We were taught about honouring life, connecting with the earth and issues such as how dangerous it is to vaccinate your child (untrue), how damaging it is to a mother and her baby to have a C -section (also untrue) and how dangerous it is for a mother to have drugs during childbirth (again, untrue).

Other subjects included how abortion was basically murder of an unborn child, and how having multiple sexual partners meant you forever held the energy of the man you had sex with inside you .

Over a protracted period of time, Jake and I believed all of this.

I now realise that this was brainwashing, and in some cases caused women to endure prolonged and difficult labours because they refused to have a C-section.

Jake was always a charismatic party boy who women were crazy about. Alcohol, drugs and bingeing was his way of life from the age of 18. We partied and travelled together for six years before we had children. But when I fell pregnant with our first child, he didn’t pull the reins in. Even at eight months pregnant I was on the phone ringing his friends at 4a.m. trying to see where he was or indeed if he was still alive. He would always be out drinking and taking drugs.

people asking about kids
"I was in love with him." Image via Getty.

Still, I made excuses and stuck it out because again he was the charming, fun, good-looking guy. I was in love with him and he was my husband, and the father of my child.

ADVERTISEMENT

When our eldest son was five, I fell pregnant with our second child.

Jake was still the party boy, but I was now realising that the party hadn’t stopped for him. It had for me. He was unable to control himself, and then started to control me.

During his rages, he called me a bad mother. Usual first-time mothering occurrences, such as your baby rolling off the bed for the first time or your baby throwing food around the kitchen, were cause for outrage.

He would fly off the handle if the dishwasher wasn’t packed correctly. I ended up cutting the tags off the kids’ clothes because he would get very angry if the sizes of the clothes didn’t match their ages.

He had a sharp mouth and would say extremely hurtful things to me. I ended up thinking I was a terrible mother.

I know many marriages fall apart at this stage because of the “blueprint “ of how you think children should be raised and there are many arguments around fundamental differences in parenting styles. It was a very difficult time for me in any event. I felt I had lost my identity as a person and as a woman. I had stepped back from my job to raise our children, and these feelings within me exacerbated what was happening within our marriage.

Then three years years after our second child was born I unexpectedly fell pregnant again. Admittedly we hadn’t had sex for a long time, and I wasn’t on the pill.

Our marriage was in a terrible state and my mental health was suffering greatly.

We were seeing a counsellor at the time. Nothing worked, as he said at the time he knew what the counsellor wanted to hear and said it, and went home.

I showed Jake the positive pregnancy test and he was pleased. I told him that I couldn’t have another child as our marriage was so shaky.

He assured me having the baby would strengthen our relationship, then gave me an ultimatum: “if you don’t have this child, our marriage is over.”

Watch: Author Marian Keyes on abortion. Post continues after video.

I said I thought we should try to mend the relationship and work on strengthening our family unit - not bring another child into it. He disagreed.

ADVERTISEMENT

There were so many conflicting thoughts and emotions running through my heart and soul. I was nine weeks pregnant.

We had both learnt from our community that it was very wrong to terminate, but my mental health was at stake as well as the day-to-day home environment for my two children.

I was still willing to try to mend the marriage we had. Should I keep the child and try to save the marriage but lose myself? Or abort the child and still perhaps lose myself?

In the end, I chose myself and my two kids. I wanted to be a strong, healthy mother - with or without a husband.

But doing that cost me my marriage and everything I knew.

Jake drove me to a clinic for the termination and didn’t say one word before or after the procedure. I was completely numb.

Shortly after the termination, I felt relieved, but the enormity and repercussions of what I had just done sank in slowly over coming years. Jake would call me a “murderer” and tell me I had “killed our child” over and over again.

He taunted me and told me that he would tell our children that they would have had a little baby brother or sister but their mother had killed them.

I live with the fear of his threat every day.

Three months after the termination, we separated. I moved away to a different side of the city. He followed to be near the kids and, proceeded to tell the new school mothers (many of who I hadn’t met before) that I had murdered his child without his consent.

A couple of the mothers approached me about it. As women, we know that even in this day and age, abortion is still a dirty word and is still secret women’s business and a topic that divides nations.

Jake also spread the news amongst our work colleagues and again a couple of my close female friends warned me that this had to stop.

I know his intention was to destroy my reputation. But this sort of abuse and destructive behaviour echoes what happens when the subject of abortion is not out in the open.

It becomes whispers, secrets and judgement. Guilt, shame and blame.

It has taken me many years of unpacking and counselling to understand and process the feelings of confusion about my decision because of the brainwashing and fallout.

I have to admit some days there are whispers in my mind about who that child could have been, and is there something missing in my life as a result.

But now the overriding feeling is that I’m proud of myself, after all of the pressure placed on me for so many reasons, I chose myself, my mental heath and my two children instead of an unsupportive marriage to a man who eventually showed me his true colours.

* Names have been changed to protect anonymity.

Tags: abortion , features , real-life
00:00 / ???