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The decision to share your abortion story online – or not

The headlines broadcasting numerous attacks on Access to Abortion are uninterrupted: Georgia signs a 6-week ban on abortion ; Missouri's last abortion clinic threatens closure ; Alabama issues an almost complete ban on abortion with the country's most restrictive bill. Fortunately, none of these bans actually came into effect, but the threat remains real.

After every devastating message, a social media storm erupts with twee ters after abortion ̵

1; about broken condoms, about sexual assault, about being unprepared, about abusive relationships, about health issues, about just not want to become pregnant . Like clockwork, those who had abortions – including CIS women, as well as trans people and non-binary people – reveal some of their most personal stories.

If you have had an abortion and are active In social media, you might consider the possibility of adding your voice to the movement. While there are equally good reasons to share and not share, it is not always an easy decision – especially now that sharing may feel like asking legislators and other voters alike to recognize your humanity.

The Power to Tell You Story

For Chloe Mason, 28, sharing the story of her abortion on Instagram was about having her narrative. "I had reached a point where I had to live without apology," she tells SELF. "Since I'm queer and colorful, I just had to take up space. I want to live transparently so that other people can support and feel free of shame. "After Mason reported on her abortion, people tried to tell their own stories. "It was clear that some of them had told none of them except me," she says.

"Sharing stories is one way to destroy the stigma by normalizing and humanizing a very generalized procedure ", [19459004KathrynStamoulis Ph.D., president of the American Psychological Association of the Society for Media Psychology and Technology, tells SELF. "Women's voices have been silenced in the past, especially women of skin color and women in other minority groups." In many ways, the experiences of transsexuals and non-binary people who had abortions were completely deleted from the narrative.

There are many incentives to make your voice heard. When you talk about abortion, you can find others who have had similar experiences and a community that you can identify with. Not only can this help you feel less isolated and alone, but it can also be a wonderful source of support that you can use when you need it.

In addition, some want to take part in a larger push to ask people in society to see those who compassionately had – and need – abortions.

"Anyone who chooses to be real about his story and lead their own lives on their own terms will change the world around them. Amelia Bonow co-founder of the Abortion Movement Shout Your Abortion tells SELF. "It forces people around them to face the fact that they know a person with whom they have had abortions that they are likely to deal with and that they respect." ] is not new and certainly not always associated with the news cycle or a trend hashtag like last month #YouKnowMe started by Busy Phillips, who told her own story after the news of Alabama's potential almost total ban. Although a Twitter feed full of abortion stories may not feel so shocking right now, disclosure at the beginning of the reproductive rights movement was considered radical – especially in the case of activists fighting for the decriminalization of abortion by publicly speaking about their illegal abortions.

Storytelling has always been an integral part of the organization and survival strategy of women of skin color for marginalized communities. Loretta Ross a 50-year-old human rights activist, tells SELF. Ross co-founded the Collective SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice and served as National Coordinator from 2005-2012. She is one of the women of color who coined the term "reproductive justice." An incentive for physical autonomy that focuses on the most marginalized groups, a framework that has since become an integral part of US reproductive policy. Put simply, Ross was with us for a long time. She encountered storytelling as activism through the The 1983 National Black Women's Health Project (now known as the Black Women's Health Imperative) used a form of storytelling in 1983 called "self-help." , [It was] Tell about your personal story of reproductive oppression and find out that you were not alone, "she says.

Similarly, organizations and networks such as Planned Parenthood are crying out their abortion [1 9459004] We say from The Stigma Toolkit Reclaim and many others have been people for years Abortions had provided platforms to tell their stories – and with persistent repercussions indisputable, claiming the movement was complicated is an understatement.

When sharing is not so easy

Many people, like 23-year-old Ellen R. *, prefer not to be open to their abortions for clear reasons that it's just too personal and nobody on the internet has the right to tell his stories. "The whole situation is a very intimate one between me and my current friend," says Ellen SELF. "It's still an integral part of our lives and relationships, and my decision to share nothing affects their privacy as much as mine."

Unfortunately, some people may want to have their stories online otherwise your own safety and your own well-being. And it's not hard to understand why: " Social Media has the power to generate controversial, mobid behavior, and it's impossible to predict which contribution will trigger harassment or anger," says Stamoulis. This can easily turn into trolling. "Anti-abortion people are harassing those who are willing to come out at extraordinary rates and speak publicly about their abortions", Deana A. Rohlinger Ph.D., author of Abortion Policy, Mass Media and Social Movements in America and a professor of sociology at Florida State University, reports SELF. Rohlinger has spent a lot of time researching people online who are actively targeting people because of their beliefs. Much of her work is scouring the trenches of online abortion policy, and she's often not pretty. Cruel jokes, anti-abortion memes, slut-shaming, allegations of murder, and graphic photos are all possible answers when reporting on your abortion on a public platform. This reaction can worsen exponentially if you are a weak or transsexual, disabled, or otherwise marginalized person.

This type of harassment is mainly spread on Twitter and Facebook. It is difficult to say definitively if Instagram is better – according to researchers it is usually a more difficult platform for research because of the availability of analysis – but anecdotally it seems a more positive community for reproduction too his human rights activist. This makes sense, as Instagram does not offer some of the sharing features, such as retweets and large-scale shares, that spread tweets and Facebook posts like wildfire, potentially attracting trolls' attention. The worst thing Mason gets on her Instagram, where she has 23.1K followers, is an occasionally aggressive DM, which is easier to ignore than the barrage of malicious mentions some people deal with on Twitter.

Not all unwanted or potentially injurious reactions occur in the form of trolling. Posting your story online is an invitation to reactions from media companies that can increase virality, from reply guys to annoying devil advocates who want to discuss, to media companies that summarize tweets on a particular topic. Even the flood of positive reactions can be exhausted. At some point Mason had to step back from the stories in her DMs, which were sometimes incredibly difficult. "I'm not able to be anyone's advisor," she says.

All of this can have an unpleasant consequence: your story may be used in ways you never intended. "The stories are not in the hands of the storyteller," says Ross. "Who can determine what our stories mean? Are they used in narratives that say we are problematic communities because of our stories? Are they used in narratives that say our strength and resilience should be resisted? "

When potentially unwanted answers are deleted from the equation, social media is sometimes just … exhausting. It's easy to get compassion and disclosure fatigue. "When you sign up for Twitter, this Rolodex is the embodiment of every possible political nightmare, interspersed with all the people you follow, sharing the most serious personal things," says Bonow. I understand that people are over that or angry at the expectation that we have to deal with anti-electoral legislators this way. "

It's this dynamic attitude Melissa Vitale 26, from socializing her abortion even though she's open elsewhere. "Personally, I did not want to get involved because I think it's nonsense that I have to do another damn thing to change the patriarchal culture, in which we live to compensate, "she tells SELF about the long history of humans – mostly women and especially women of color – who have shared their" traumatic, often life-threatening abortion experiences "by conservative legislators convince them to give them physical autonomy.

Not to mention certain effects of telling these public stories, so people need theirs Justify abortions with appropriately "sympathetic" stories. Actress and comedian Hannah Solow summed it up when she tweeted : "I'm proud and honored to hear that people share their # YouKnowMe abortion stories. have an abortion. You should not have to prove to anyone why you want to be in control of your own body and your own life.

In a similar context, you need no reason to tell your abortion story online. It does not have to pose a threat to your safety or feel like a violation of privacy or rub you in the wrong direction. Maybe it just sounds stressful or unattractive, or you just do not want to . "Everything is absolutely valid," says Bonow. "The world is a terrible hellscale, and everyone must survive as they must."

Decision for yourself

If you're trying to decide if you want to tell your abortion story, Stamoulis's biggest recommendation To clarify your goal in online exchange instead of by other means. If you want to get support or free yourself from the burden of a secret, you should first think about IRL or anonymous alternatives, such as: Self-help groups, exchange with relatives, narrative platforms or therapy . "Many people find personal disclosures to a proven, sensitive group a powerful and healing experience," says Stamoulis.

Also, take time to think about all possible outcomes of passing on your abortion story. Like everything else, your experience is likely to be heavily influenced by the response you receive. You may be supported and encouraged. You could receive a sentence or a harassment; Family or co-workers might come across your story; They might tweet something raw and challenging, just to never let anyone answer.

"If [any of] does not suit you well, rethink the online disclosure," says Stamoulis. "It is in our human nature to focus on the negative. Even if you receive a lot of evidence, you will probably think about the negative evidence. "

This is especially true if your abortion is related to rape or another trauma. There is always a chance that a negative or unexpected reaction will aggravate your pain or that a Google search refreshes your progress when you least expect it. "I think people hope that a story like this one meets with compassion online, but there will always be trolls making fun of the story," says Stamoulis.

Remember, if you have a strong support group of friends and loved ones, harassment can be much more bearable. Mason went to great lengths to turn her friends upside down before she published her abortion story on Instagram and asked her for help, which she felt was making a huge difference.

First of all, your decision should lie with you. In this political moment, it is understandable that you feel pressured to join in the conversation as people voice their stories and terrible news never ends. But try to resist feelings of guilt or duty. "I would never talk about your abortion story as a political, moral or feminist imperative," says Bonow.

And if you are not sure? You can wait to decide. Unfortunately, threats to reproductive rights will continue and there will be many opportunities to share your story.

To find relief and to bring about change.

With all these reasons to reveal and not to reveal, abortion storytelling has become a kind of delicate and complicated balancing of advantages and disadvantages. And while only you can decide for yourself what's right for you personally, this begs the question: are the benefits worth the damage? the psychological risks or benefits of publishing such personal stories online. But even without thorough research, it is difficult for many to not feel the consequences of silence on a personal level. "Not talking about the things that have happened to us, not about our trauma and about the people who fucked us and hurt us, makes some of us sick," says Bonow. "Not to Process Our Life in a Genuine and Honest Manner [can have]. Real, catastrophic impact on our mental health ." Blow it once did. It can be a powerful platform to find fellowship, to strengthen voices that have historically been silenced, and to fight stigma, but when it comes to interest anti-abortion politicians in our lives, Ross is not optimistic Reference to the power of storytelling. "People die and it does not change their mind," she says. "Women in detention centers and immigration centers need abortion services, and that does not change their opinion."

Will sharing your story change the mindset of a lawmaker who wants to overthrow Roe? Probably not. But will it have any impact on the cultural perception of abortions and why is access to reproductive health care important? Possibly.

"The goal is to change culture, how we think about people who get abortions, and what we know about people who get abortions," says Rohlinger. "Storytelling can certainly create action communities that can bring about change, and social media platforms allow individuals, citizens and movements of all kinds to unite and organize themselves in a whole new way."

Perhaps this includes storytelling , maybe not . There is no unique way to be an activist. You can choose to volunteer, donate or write your state legislature. They might choose to bring meals or signs to protesters or provide child care or transportation to activists. The point is, there are countless ways to get involved. Ultimately, it depends on your personal motivation and goals, and it is up to you if and how you contribute.

* Names have been changed to grant anonymity upon request.

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