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The SAVAnon Dream is Reality

Victims-No-More-webIt was one year to the day. May 23rd, 2018 was the day that the idea of SAVAnon first came to mind and May 23rd, 2019 is the day the very first shipment of SAVAnon books arrived. Just in case you have been out of the loop lately, SAVAnon, short for Sexual Abuse Victims Anonymous, is an extension of AbAnon intended to bring healing for those who have been sexually abused or assaulted. The SAVAnon curriculum is titled Victims No More.

Many people have put in long hours to bring Victims No More into reality: Rob Fischer, is the principle author of the curriculum with contributions from Laurel Bahr, Cindy Crawford and Lisa Cinq-Mars; seven women who have courageously allowed us to use their stories (some anonymously); book layout by Kim Gardell; illustrations by Jennifer Beecham-Miller; cover design by Heather Wilbur; plus an army of other individuals who have made contributions in various ways. From the depths of my heart I thank you. Click here to purchase copies of Victims No More.

The SAVAnon website is up and running with only a few finishing touches needing to be completed. Check it out at savanon.org. We also have our Facebook Page available and would love you to “Like” it at: SAVAnon Facebook.

Two SAVAnon pilot groups have been held in the Spokane area and the response has been incredible. Several of the women who were pilot group participants will be among the 20 or so women attending our first joint AbAnon/SAVAnon Facilitator Training on June 22nd.

I am also pleased to announce that Laurel Bahr has accepted the position of SAVAnon Spokane Area Director. Until we have more staff in place, feel free to contact me about starting a SAVAnon Chapter outside the Spokane area.

In my last newsletter I told you about our need to raise considerable funding to launch SAVAnon. Several thousand dollars came in and for that I thank you. We still have a great need and that is all I will say on that subject.

In the past year I have talked about SAVAnon quite a bit. I assure you that we are not deviating from our original mission of serving the needs of the post-abortive; we just found that so many stories of post-abortive women also had a sexual abuse component that we simply could not ignore. We believe that sexual abuse healing will help us access hurting women and men that we would never have access to with only a post-abortion healing curriculum. SAVAnon will greatly strengthen AbAnon.

Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support of AbAnon/SAVAnon.
Perry Underwood
Executive Director
perry@abanon.org
Check can be mailed to:
Abortion Anonymous, Inc. (AbAnon)
PO Box 11664
Spokane Valley, WA 99211
Donations can be made online at:
http://www.abanon.org/donate
https://savanon.org/donate/

A Seemingly Impossible Dream

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Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you had to do something but the thing you knew you had to do was so far beyond your capabilities that you were certain that your sanity would be called into question?  This is exactly where I found myself a few months ago.

At 4am on May 23, 2018 I was awakened from a deep sleep by what I believe was the Holy Spirit of God.  Some of you reading this will understand what I mean by this but others will not…that’s okay. We all know people that say God told them this or that and I admit when hearing such proclamations, I’m about as skeptical as they get.  I believe that if we abide in Him, the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirit to lead, guide and direct us through this thing called life but my experience on that early Wednesday morning was far more than that.  It was like God himself was talking to me in a voice that could be heard only in my soul.  This is not the only time this has happened to me but I confess that similar experiences of this magnitude in my life have been rare.

For the past five years I have been the Executive Director for an organization, Abortion Anonymous, Inc. (AbAnon).  The purpose of AbAnon is  to create awareness regarding the emotional harm caused by abortion, and to provide a path to healing for those affected.  As Director of AbAnon I have heard hundreds of abortion stories over the years.  Many of these abortion stories have also had a sexual abuse or a sexual assault component as part of the overall story.  Upon hearing about the sexual abuse or assault I would think, “Oh, that’s unfortunate.”  But then give no further thought to the matter.

Back to being awakened at 4am on May 23rd.  That morning I heard what I believe to be the Holy Spirit telling me. “You (AbAnon) are to create a healing curriculum for victims of sexual abuse.”  Now wide awake and in full control of my mental faculties I jumped to my feet and said. “Yes Lord, I am your humble servant and ready to do anything you might ask of me.”  NOT.  To my shame I remember lying there thinking, or maybe even saying aloud, “God, are you nuts?  Are You not aware of my calendar and the impossible amount of work I already have to do?  This idea is ridiculous!”

Not able to go back to sleep I got up and started my day.  Like Jacob in the Old Testament, I wrestled with God…for the entire day.  But by the end of the day I had set aside my doubts, my fears, and my skepticism, agreeing to obey and to do what I had been called to do.

Over the next couple of days I shared this story over coffee with some close friends.  I didn’t know how they would respond but I was already questioning my sanity.  I know what I had heard but couldn’t get beyond my own inadequacies.  Having no personal experience in abortion I was already leading a Post-abortion healing organization and now, having no personal experience in sexual abuse, how am I to also lead a sexual abuse healing organization?  In my mind it made no sense.  These close friends were of no help in talking me out of doing this, as a matter of fact, they seemed to be fully on God’s side of the argument.

A few weeks later at our monthly AbAnon Board of Directors meeting I slipped this topic into the meeting agenda.  What I thought might be a five minute conversation turned into an hour and a half conversation.  Several of the Directors shared their own personal story of sexual abuse.  As a Board we discussed the obvious questions:  Do we have the staff to offer a sexual abuse healing program?  NO!  Do we have the time?  NO!  Do we have the funds?  NO!  DO we have any resources at all that would offer an intellectual reason to move forward with this idea?  NO!  So, based on absolutely no logic or reasoning, the AbAnon Board of Directors unanimously voted to develop a sexual abuse healing curriculum.

Sexual Abuse Victims Anonymous (SAVAnon) is the result of all this.  The SAVAnon curriculum will be called Victims No More.  SAVAnon will operate under the legal entity of Abortion Anonymous, Inc. but to the general public, SAVAnon will have no obvious appearance of being connected to AbAnon.  It will have its own website, SAVAnon.org, its own marketing strategy, videos and marketing material.  But the beautiful thing about SAVAnon is that it will be able to operate in tandem with AbAnon, having “Victims No More” Groups available anywhere AbAnon Groups are available.

At this time the rough draft of the SAVAnon women’s curriculum has been written and reviewed by a group of women who each have their own story of sexual abuse.  The same artist who drew the sketches for the AbAnon curriculum has also agreed to do the sketches for SAVAnon.  A SAVAnon “Pilot Group” has been scheduled to start later this month, publication of our curriculum will hopefully be in April and we plan a full SAVAnon launch this coming May.  A SAVAnon curriculum for men will follow in a few months.

Here is an excerpt from Victims No More:

“According to childtrauma.org, in the U.S. one out of three females and one out of five males have been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18 years.”  And in some parts of the country, these rates are much higher.

Sexual abuse causes lifelong damage to the individual with symptoms that are varied and universally common. Victims feel a deep sense of sexual shame, depression, anxiety, worthlessness, guilt, and difficulties with careers and relationships.

If not dealt with, the trauma associated with sexual abuse can result in PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression and anxiety that could last a lifetime.  Some of the possible symptoms of PTSD resulting from child abuse include:  

  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Withdrawal from and mistrust or fear of adults
    and authority figures
  • Hyper-sexuality and promiscuity
  • Avoidance of sex and physical touch
  • Problems with sleep or fear of going to bed
  • Nightmares and/or flashbacks
  • Self-harm
  • Addictions to drugs, alcohol, or food
  • Unusual sexual behavior
  • Lesbian lifestyle
  • Prostitution
  • Depression
  • Sexually abusing other children
    (35% of child sexual abusers were abused themselves as children.)
  • Phantom pain

Exact numbers are impossible to obtain because most sexual abuse cases are never reported, but studies suggest that there are at least 60 million sexual abuse victims within the USA and probably well over a billion worldwide.  The NEED for SAVAnon is huge. I have learned that people do not support charitable organizations because the organization HAS a need; they support charitable organizations because the organization MEETS a need.

At AbAnon we rarely ask for money.  Our funding comes through our financial partners; most support us with $20, $50 or $100 each month.  But to properly launch SAVAnon we need to raise an extra $50,000 and we’re hoping to raise this by inviting you to ignore any logic or reason and to join us in this seemingly impossible dream.  Any amount will help.  Below, you can find information on how to donate.

SAVA-finalPerry Underwood, Executive Director
perry@abanon.org

Check can be mailed to:
Abortion Anonymous, Inc. (AbAnon)
PO Box 11664
Spokane Valley, WA 99211

Donations can be made online at:
http://www.abanon.org/donate

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Zambia and Israel— An amazing trip!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your generous financial gifts toward our AbAnon trip to Zambia and Israel. Our team arrived safely home late Friday night and in short—the trip was amazing!

We spent five days in Zambia, Africa and stayed in the home of our hosts the Mwansa family. Barbra Mwansa is the President of Association for Life of Africa (www.AFLA.in). She oversees 217 pregnancy resource centers in 16 African countries.

In Zambia, we trained about 40 people over a two-day period. About 10 of these were pastors from around the country. Others were directors and workers at pregnancy resource centers in Zambia. Some traveled as far away as 1200 KM. The wife of one of the provincial chieftains also attended with the intent to take the curriculum back to her people. The Zambians’ reaction to the training was profound!

In Zambia, they estimate that 9 out of 10 women are post-abortive. Abortion is viewed as a means of birth control in order to “space their children” in a way that’s most convenient for them. But we learned that the pain, shame, guilt, and self-destructive behaviors that the post-abortive in America experience are the same in Zambia. But Zambia had no post-abortive healing curricula whatsoever, so AbAnon is very needed!

After the training, one pastor was deeply moved. He declared, “My life has been changed! I need to go to my congregation and apologize for not speaking about abortion and sexual abuse in our church. By avoiding those topics, I realize now that I’ve unintentionally sanctioned them.”

Another pastor just emailed us with the following: “I have shared your [AbAnon] videos to 55 women and the response is overwhelming. Am praying to have a meeting with them before Christmas if all falls in line. Keep praying for us. Keddy is a young woman has gone through two abortions and two failed marriages. After watching the videos, she cried and shouted ‘AbAnon, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?’”

And shortly after arriving in Israel, we learned that two of the men in Zambia who were in our training, were already on their way to Nigeria to train people there in the AbAnon curriculum!

Israel-Participants-webWe also stayed five days in Israel. We learned there that abortion is rampant. Military service is compulsory in Israel for both men and women. While women are in the military, they are offered up to three free abortions.

In Israel we trained about 35 people, most of them women. We only had one pastor attend the training even though many pastors had been invited. Unfortunately, the pastors consider this a “women’s issue,” so didn’t see the need to get involved.

The one pastor who did attend was there grudgingly as his wife made him come. But after a short time into the training, he was won over and recognized the tremendous need for healing in Israel and in his own congregation. By the afternoon, he was feverishly taking notes and we enjoyed a great time of fellowship over dinner that evening with him and his wife.

In both countries, we experienced the presence and power of the Holy Spirit as He moved in our hearts and among those we had the privilege of ministering to.

Thank you so much again for making this trip possible!

Your brother in Christ, Rob Fischer
Member, AbAnon Board of Directors

AbAnon is Headed to Zambia & Israel

africa-globe-webA few months ago we were contacted by Associates For Life Africa (AFLA) about helping them with post-abortion healing for women and men.  Headquartered in Kitwe, Zambia, AFLA is an association of 217 Pregnancy Resource Centers throughout 16 African nations.  After several weeks of discussions, AbAnon leadership decided that helping AFLA would be a worthy use of our resources and efforts.

Just before we purchased our plane tickets for the trip to Africa, we were also invited to help an organization in Israel develop a more inclusive post-abortion model for pregnancy centers throughout the Holy Land. Imagine that…being invited to Israel to do the very same thing that we are planning to do in Zambia!

A quick call to the travel agent modified our itinerary to include a 5-day tour through Jerusalem. It added nothing to the cost of the trip; adding on the time in Israel was a no-brainer.

On November 18th the four-person AbAnon Team consisting of Scott & Cindy Crawford, Rob Fischer and myself will spend five days in Zambia then head on to Jerusalem for five more days. We will meet with area pastors and provide comprehensive training for pregnancy center leaders and staff as to how to effectively reach the post-abortive and sexually abused within their communities. The team returns to Spokane November 30th.

Our hosts are helping with the costs as much as they’re able, but as you might imagine, this trip will cost AbAnon several thousand dollars. We humbly request your prayers and any financial assistance you are able to provide.  To join our prayer team send us an email to joinus@abanon.org.  To donate click here

The Champions

Group Celebration

Several months ago a Spokane area Pastor and I had lunch together.  He was familiar with AbAnon but wanted to learn more about the organization.  After sharing 10 Keys to an Effective Post-Abortion Ministry/ Outreach with him, he seemed eager to get the ball rolling. But there was a problem!  He told me that before any new ministry or service was offered to his congregation he had to find someone within his church to be “a champion” for that ministry or service.  He and his staff were just too busy trying to keep up with what was already in place.

From that conversation the idea of The AbAnon Champion was born; here is the definition:

“An Abanon Champion is an individual (or couple) with a strong commitment to a local church, operating under the authority of the leadership of that church, who will purposefully provide awareness regarding the emotional harm caused by abortion and sexual abuse, and provide a path for healing for those affected.”

Last month we had two groups take our very first AbAnon Champion Training.  In these two groups we had 15 people participate representing 13 churches.  The participants were empowered with the means and tools necessary to have two intentional conversations each month that deal with the topics of abortion and sexual abuse, topics which have historically been taboo within most churches.

If you would like to know more about being an AbAnon Champion within your church please contact us at: joinus@abanon.org.  Thank you for your continued support of AbAnon, Perry Underwood – Director

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A Unique AbAnon Group

At AbAnon we have the privilege of working with Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) throughout the world, but none is more valuable than the relationship we have with Life Services/MyChoice Clinic in Spokane, WA, the same city where AbAnon is based.

AbAnon is part of Life Services/MyChoice post-abortion recovery program. An AbAnon Group was held for Life Services/MyChoice staff and volunteers to aid them to better understand and serve abortion vulnerable and abortion-minded clients of MyChoice. That Group was a success on so many levels both for the four post-abortive facilitators who were willing to hold the class and the participants who had never experienced an abortion.

One of the main outcomes of this class was to answer questions behind what drives women to pursue abortion and explore the underlying life situations and social pressures involved. Here are a few quotes from the participants on the impact of the class:

  • “I have a greater understanding of the feelings and circumstances of some who choose abortion and the pain, regret, shame they feel afterwards.”
  • “It showed me that sometimes a woman has an abortion out of mercy for her child.”
  • “My perspective is broader now. I don’t think I realized before the class how narrow my view was.”

On the question of would you recommend this class to other Crisis Pregnancy Centers?

  • “Yes. With a deeper understanding of “why” women choose this, it will make it easier to relate to the women we see at the Clinic.”

Reactions from some of the facilitators of the Group indicated that sharing their story helped participants dispel past misunderstandings of the “why” women chose abortions and help them be better prepared to understand and assist those considering abortion.

The Power of Your Story curriculum is designed to heal together and then be able to help others reach a level of healing together. We believe this Group made that possible for a broader audience and are grateful for the opportunity.

Thank you for your continued support of AbAnon.
Perry Underwood – Director

The Faces of AbAnon

As AbAnon continues to grow, our Board of Directors began a search to find someone to work in the Spokane area. This would enable me to focus on introducing AbAnon into other areas of the USA and abroad. Eventually, we hired two women to serve as part-time Co-Directors for the Spokane area. We introduced Julie Stumbo in March and now I am pleased to introduce Lisa Cinq-Mars. -Perry Underwood, Executive Director

MEET LISA CINQ-MARS

LisaThree years ago on the Bloomsday trail I passed awful Pro-Life posters and knew I was being called to help the post-abortive. I had no idea how or where to start or what exactly to do (except pray) until two months later when Life Services gave a presentation at Summit Church. I learned they had an arm of their ministry to help the post-abortive.

When I explained to the volunteer coordinator at Life Services my desire/calling, she directed me to AbAnon, Abortion Anonymous, a new organization offering a free eight-week class to facilitate healing. I knew, through a great deal of previous work, that I was forgiven for my decision to have an abortion. What I did not know was that many of the decisions I made since then were symptoms of the shame and guilt I was still carrying in my soul. I knew I was forgiven by God, but I did not know how to accept that forgiveness and let it change me.

AbAnon helped me connect the dots through documented research about Post Abortion Stress Syndrome and the intimate sharing of stories through the Power of Your Story curriculum. For me, those dots consisted of addiction, depression, and more to the point, anger. My sweet, God-given family suffered from my then unexplainable outbursts and rage. In AbAnon, I learned how what I was still struggling with was a deep-seated belief that I was unworthy of anything good – especially beautiful, perfect children – because of what I had done. I am now set free and so grateful to have been given this opportunity to heal.

I became completely committed to being a part of offering this healing to everyone, male and female, willing to take the brave step toward releasing the shame and guilt of abortion. This is my life’s work and I am excited to be a part of the organization that will revolutionize the way we view human life and exposing the truth about the real consequences of abortion.

The Faces of AbAnon

As AbAnon continues to grow, our Board of Directors began a search to find someone to work in the Spokane area. This would enable me to focus on introducing AbAnon into other areas of the USA and abroad. Eventually, we hired two women to serve as part-time Co-Directors for the Spokane area. I am delighted to introduce them to you in our next two newsletters. -Perry Underwood, Executive Director

MEET JULIE STUMBO

JulieSSince my earliest of memories I wanted to be a mom.  Holding babies has always brought me so much joy and put me at peace.  It just feels right.  So when I found myself pregnant at 17, my emotions were mixed.  People will tell you that it’s just cells, that it’s not really a life.  In my selfish world, I didn’t know the difference.  Ultimately I made the decision to have an abortion, a decision that would affect the rest of my life.

Two years later, I got pregnant with my son Dylan.  This time I wasn’t making the same decision no matter what happened.  I loved him with my entire being.  Thus began my life as a single mom.

I then again found myself pregnant.  The father convinced me that I couldn’t handle being the parent of two kids.  He was probably right, but there were definitely other options.  He drove me to Denver to have the procedure done.  I was completely numb and shut off at this point.

I’d met Josh during that previous relationship and we started dating. We married about a year later. I became a Christian and knew that God had forgiven me of all my sins, but for my abortions I couldn’t forgive myself.  Josh and I were blessed with two beautiful daughters, but I just couldn’t forget about my babies in Heaven.  I’d lived with this pain and trauma for so many years.  I kept it buried deep and didn’t tell even my closest friends.

About two years ago, I was introduced to Abortions Anonymous, or AbAnon.  I went through an eight week class in the fall of 2016 and finally was able to start processing and healing all of my grief.  I was able to write letters to my precious babies asking for their forgiveness and telling them how much I love them.  I even got a tattoo to symbolize that they were a part of me just as much as my three precious babies here on earth.

I’m now serving on the Board of Directors for AbAnon, have been trained as one of their many Group Facilitators and have recently accepted the position of the Co-Director for the Spokane area.

I will live in shame no longer and try to help as many people as I possibly can.  Becoming a director for AbAnon helps me to be more involved in something I’m passionate about. There are so many women and men who have been involved in abortions and are hurting in silence.  My hope is that one day there won’t be a need for AbAnon, but in the meantime, we need to help and support as many as we can.

 

 

The Faces of Abanon

There are dozens of people serving as volunteers with AbAnon and the volunteer who is the most visible and the one I’m asked about most often is Paula Krant.

Meet Paula

AbAnon has never been an overtly religious organization but faith in God and a relationship with Jesus Christ are at the core of who we are.  As they are our core, we also believe in the power of prayer. Well over 100 people make up the AbAnon Prayer Team; they are led by Paula Krant. This month I thought I would introduce Paula and share her story.

“My abortion happened over 47 years ago. My healing, from the guilt, despair, regret, anger, fear, shame, and the grief that abortion brought, took me years to find. I struggled for many of those years, trying to understand all the emotions and feelings that seemed to invade and impact my life. I have become an avid supporter of AbAnon because I have seen the healing it brings to post abortive women. If there had been an AbAnon around to help me deal with the effects that my abortion brought me, I would have been spared years of pain and grief! It is a program that works!”

Click on the image below to watch a short video on more of Paula’s story.