Getting through the holidays with extended family can be difficult, especially when you don’t see eye to eye with some of them. Listening to the various abortion politics of your family members can be one of the most dreaded parts of visiting. It can be even more difficult after you’ve had an abortion because most of us have family members who can’t help but chime in with anti-abortion comments. To help you prepare for this type of situation, we’ve compiled a list of tips we hope will get you through to dessert!
1) Remember you don’t have to talk about abortion politics or anything else you’re uncomfortable talking about
You are not obligated to share your experience just because others share their opinions. Never feel obligated to change someone’s mind, only respond up to the point where you feel comfortable. It can be helpful to identify the things you’re okay with sharing ahead of time and to think about the ways you want to respond to anti-choice beliefs.
2) Set boundaries by avoiding political conversation with people who you already know hold different views
A healthy debate is one thing, but offensive remarks are another. You should always be treated with respect. If someone you know already holds anti-choice beliefs, sometimes avoiding the abortion politics discussion with them altogether is the best option.
3) Identify a supportive person who may be able to hold space for you
Sometimes avoiding political conversation isn’t an option, especially when you’re at a dinner table with them! Is there someone you can turn to when things get tense? If you’ve already shared your experience with this person, you can ask them ahead of time for their emotional support.
4) Create a plan for when a conversation gets too heated
There’s nothing wrong with walking away when you feel triggered. If the situation allows, consider taking a walk outside or removing yourself from the stressors in another way. Is there anything you need from the grocery store? Can you decompress by reading, meditating or even watching a movie? Is there someone back home that you can call or FaceTime for emotional support? Sometimes these interactions can make us feel like we need to leave entirely, and if that’s the case, it can be a good idea to plan for what you’ll do if it reaches that point.
5) Call All Options at 1-888-493-0092 for immediate support Monday-Friday between 10 am-1 am EST and Saturday and Sunday 10 am-6 pm EST
They provide emotional support to people before and after an abortion, and when leaving isn’t an option — or if there isn’t someone you know personally that you can reach out to — sometimes talking to someone who is understanding can help. All Options provides compassionate and unbiased emotional support to everyone who calls.
Your reasons for having an abortion were good enough. And while most people in the U.S. support our right to choose, it’s still inevitable that we will encounter people who do not, and who want to make you feel bad about your decision. Experiencing shame after you’ve had an abortion can make you feel very alone; you’re not! One in four women in the United States (23.7%) will have an abortion by age 45, according to recent Guttmacher Institute research. During stressful times, it’s important to remember that you can lean on your friends and family who are understanding and support you.
At Austin Women’s Health Center, we want you to feel supported and confident before and after your visit. We hope these tips help you feel prepared this holiday season! If you can be a support person for a friend or family member in need of encouragement, we hope you can share these tips with them.