Denise Salyers of Dublin speaks at Marysville Aglow, Thursday, August 31, 2012 at 7 p.m. on the topic of healing from the pain and shame of abortion. She shares her testimony of her journey to restoration and radical healing with the Lord.
“We did find ‘help’ and on April 30, 1983 our lives were changed forever… the decision we made, which was our ‘legal right’ to abort our child condemned me to a person prison for almost 23 years. In these years, I began to drink heavily, did drugs, separated myself from everyone emotionally, tried to commit suicide three times; the hardest was the emotional disconnect between me and my children and my husband. I think back now and can remember how dark life was, from the time I woke in the morning till I laid down at night, life to me was hopeless. I even got saved thinking all would be forgotten and now my life would have to change…but it wasn’t until 2006 when the light had broken through all my darkness, the walls began to crumble. My life became full of hope,” Denise shares.
With two small children and strapped finances, Denise never considered having an abortion when she found out she was pregnant again. She looked in the phone book and found Planned Parenthood thinking they would help with answers, but when she got there, the conversation veered immediately to abortion. “There was never a conversation of life. In their minds, it was persuasion that this was the best thing because financially, this is where were,” Denise states.
“It was such a horrid event. I still can remember everything that happened. I can still see the room and the doctor’s face behind the mask. I remember walking down the hallway; we were herded like cattle. The big thing was let’s get you off the table and in the chair and out the door because we have to get someone else in. That’s kind of how I felt. There was no caring,” Denise describes. “I remember thinking to myself; I would never let anyone know what happened. I would never tell anybody what I did. I would completely forget about this.”
Recovery for Denise spanned decades. She had nightmares where she’d hear a baby crying, but she couldn’t get to it. She couldn’t function or connect with her children. “I couldn’t let myself get close to people because they’d find out my deep dark secret, so I became inward. The only time I was happy was when I was drunk. I thought this was the answer. For the rest of my life, this was going to be how it’s going to be,” Denise shares. Her life spiraled downward as she turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, and attempted suicide. Just as she was planning the third attempt on her life in 1990, her sister-in-law took her to a Christian concert and then to church where Denise gave her life to the Lord.
Still Denise struggled with her secret sin even though she felt God’s hand on the situation. “I couldn’t get beyond this sin. I tried to work and teach in the church. I worshiped; I prayed, and begged God to forgive me. I just never felt I lived up to the God to whom the God that I served needed me to be,” Denise recalls.
By 2006, Denise still felt hopeless, that life would always be this struggle. One day at church, a woman named Karen from the Pregnancy Decision Health Center (PDHC) spoke at her church. In the past, Denise just left when such speakers would speak on the right to life, figuring she’d just break down and her secret would be exposed. This time she froze in her seat and listened. Afterwards she approached Karen in the hallway to get more information about the healing effects of abortion-related trauma that Karen mentioned. “The Lord was all over this. Karen squared me off and looked me dead in the eye and said ‘you’ve been forgiven and your need to forgive yourself,’” Denise explains. After that I attended PDHC’s program called Heart. “For the first time in all those year, I felt freedom sitting around the table with women who’d been through what I’d been through. I wasn’t alone,” she states.
Denise remembered the vow she made on the day of her abortion to never speak about the event every again, but she didn’t want another women going through the decades of pain she had experienced so she shares her story. “I’m not longer ashamed. It was a sin, and it was wrong, but my God has forgiven me and I tell everyone I can that there is hope,” Denise said.
Denise feels called to minister on this topic. The Heart Program at the PDHC is seven weeks with follow-up at 10 weeks. For some, Denise says, this may not be enough and they do provide counseling services. Post Abortion Syndrome affects may require longer care. Denise found journaling helpful. As she says, “from the heart to the pen to the paper; it puts legs on your emotions.”
Denise suggests parents, family; friends of someone contemplating abortion should put positive information into the hands of the individual like PDHC provides that offers options for life. Often the individual ignores advice and pleas from those closer to them. They need someone to talk to that can provide positive answers to consider life. “They need to step back and think because fear is going to cause them to run to the nearest solution. Then need to stop and get themselves together and get a hold of someone,” Denise recommends.
PDHC has a 24 hour emergency hotline at 614-888-8774, and a website at www.pdhc.org. They run multiple centers around Columbus. The centers don’t tell them not to have an abortion, but they do show them the ultrasound, and show them what’s inside them is life. They also point them to resources including medical insurance, clothing, and other financial assistance should they choose to keep the baby.
Denise hopes her testimony encourages others that there is recovery, and also demonstrates other options available to those contemplating the decision of abortion that she didn’t receive when she was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Marysville Aglow hosts this event at 122 North Court Street in Marysville. All are welcome at this event.