Living in Color – South Africa

offering Help and Healing for post-abortion women

Living in Color: the goal of post-abortion recovery is a unique, abortion-specific, grief and loss program that was developed by Jenny McDermid and made its debut in 2010.

What we do, How we HELP

Some women feel a sense of relief after an abortion, while other women find it a painful and difficult experience to move past. Everyone’s experience is different. While many women experience a sense of relief after an abortion, some women experience strong negative emotions such as guilt, anxiety, sadness, emotional “numbing” or depression.

If you have had an abortion and are experiencing any of the above, you may be encountering Post Abortion Stress and the Living in Color program addresses the above symptoms and places you on a path of healing.

Program Summary

Goals of the Program – from the client’s perspective:

  1. To grieve our abortion losses
  2. To restore faith and trust in ourselves
  3. To bring health to broken relationships with God and others
  4. To identify and control our triggers
  5. To say “hello” and “goodbye” to our children
  6. To find peace, closure and new purpose

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Post-Abortion Stress

Are you experiencing feelings of guilt, anxiety or depression? You may be experiencing Post Abortion Stress (PAS). Symptoms of PAS may include:

  • Sadness
  • Feeling compelled to conceal an abortion
  • Experiencing prolonged depression
  • Emotional “numbing”
  • Having lingering guilt and shame

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Program Author

JENNY MCDERMID

For the past 20 years, Jenny McDermid has been active in the post-abortion recovery and healing wing of the Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre—a Canadian Christian ministry affiliated with the North American CareNet organization. Jenny is a former educator and entrepreneur who sold her business in the mid-1990s to pursue her primary passion:  the restoration of women wounded by abortion to life lived in full color.

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WATCH this 12-minute video

Original interview by 100 Huntley Street showcasing Jenny McDermid, author of Living in Color, her colleagues offering post-abortion counselling as well as two clients who provide their testimonials walking through the Program.

HOW we are different

There are other post-abortion recovery programs available through various agencies in major urban centers of South Africa and many have been written 20+ years ago.  Some women who have spent time in personal counselling sessions feel they still cannot move past the deep wounds they still carry from their abortion because the counselling was not abortion specific.  The Living in Color program is abortion specific, was first published in 2010 and has been updated in 2017.  As such, we believe it delivers one of the most systematic, next-generation and thorough approaches to identifying, processing, dealing with and healing the emotions and trauma that have arisen due to post-abortion grief.  Other positive differentiators that our program offers to our South African woman who become clients of Living in Color are:

♥  Sonya Boettcher, as a competent and certified facilitator brings a compassionate and gentle approach into each session and provides a safe place for women to share their healing journey.

♥  Culturally sensitive approach no matter your ethnicity

♥  Comprehensive intake process to ensure client readiness

♥  Small group discussion sizes

♥  Hands-on exercises that help clients identify, process and heal from their grief wounds

PROGRAM DIRECTOR
SOUTH AFRICA

Sonya Boettcher has made Cape Town her home base since 2014 where she lives with her husband Andy.  Generous international donors have allowed Sonya to offer the Program materials and all program-related counselling for free.  Sonya is currently partnering with Hillsong South Africa where she is offering the program out of their Century City location in Cape Town.

Sonya was quite young when she found out she was pregnant and had an abortion soon afterwards.  She lived in silent grief and shame for many years.   She carried the hurt, guilt and sadness in her heart due to the unresolved loss of a baby that she never got to hold.   The Living in Color program gently walked her through the many stages of the grief journey and rebuilt her towards her true potential in Christ and perhaps for the first time in her life, she saw her value as Christ does.  Her life went from living in the grey to truly Living in Color.

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From Our Clients

The following testimonials have been posted with the permission of our clients.  Pseudo names have been used to protect their identity

When I first sent Sonya an email, inquiring about Living in Colour and wanting to join the course, I was touched by her warmth and kindness in responding to my interest. Through our written correspondence I felt at ease and at peace because her responses were timeous and made me feel welcome.

The first meeting I had at the Hillsong church to chat about the course was one I will never forget. I was determined to make the appointment and remember feeling like I was at my lowest point, broken by a past relationship which had left me internally wounded and inexplicably hurt by my abortion ordeal which had become a living nightmare.

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I stepped into the church with little expectation. All I wanted was to be part of a course that would help me heal all the darkness that felt like it was threatening to burst from the inside out. I was desperate to find healing and peace and desperate to find my way back to a life filled with light and joy. Enrolling in Living in Colour was the first step to that life. During my first meeting I felt comfortable speaking to Sonya about what had brought me here. Not once did I feel judged or condemned, instead I was met with so much love and encouragement.

The lessons that followed were tough at times because I was forced to look at my life, the choices I had made through the lens of God’s word, the teachings in the book and with the guidance of an empathetic counselor.

There were moments where the course was difficult to take in, I would break down while working through the journal and the guide. I felt so many emotions that could best be described as sorrow, heartbreak, regret, remorse, shame and guilt. I soon realised that I needed to work through these toxic emotions because for months they had held me back in a prison of unforgiveness and turmoil. As Sonya and I confronted each toxic emotion and the behaviour behind it, I felt myself becoming lighter.

I was growing as a young woman, finding myself in an environment that was healthy and aimed at building me from the ground up. As the course progressed, I started looking forward to the lessons because they had become a platform for me to understand what had happened before, during and after my abortion ordeal. I appreciated the honest approach that the course took, it allowed me to take responsibility and to become accountable for my mistakes so that I could grow from them and become a better person who learns from her mistakes and makes better choices.

I found out how I could deal better when faced with problems brought by circumstance or anything out of my control. I learnt new coping mechanisms which I could use when faced with a challenge. I grew in courage and strength as I worked through the emotional turmoil. I found myself centred back to a loving, understanding and graceful God and came to see how he has forgiven me and given me a garment of praise and beauty for ashes. The scriptures I read served as a basis from which I could propel myself forward from. The bible is my companion and the word has accompanied me through the journey I undertook with Living in Colour and afterwards.

To say the course changed my life is an understatement. It began my life from a positive, faith filled and bold perspective because I discovered that I could laugh again, I could dance again, I could feel and look more enthusiastically at what lies ahead of me and for that I am so grateful.

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Anneke

Client, Cape Town, RSA

I am eternally grateful for the Living in Color in course and for you too Sonya, because of it, I feel better, I have faced a part of me that I was nonchalantly ignoring, but inside I was hurting and constantly being haunted by the grief, fear and regret. I know that it is a process and I may still have some remnant issues, but overall, I am in a much better space, I am kinder and more forgiving to myself and I turn to God when I have any internal unrest.

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The reminder not to question God’s authority has played a very fundamental role for me, and so when I catch myself in a cycle of negative self-chastising talk, I remember not to question God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

The course has been useful in all areas of my life and I am applying a lot of these principles in my every day encounters. I am forever grateful to the Living in Color course and it came at a much needed time.

Thank you Sonya and Jenny McDermid.  May God forever bless you both.

.

Blessings

Client, Cape Town, RSA

After fighting with my emotions all these years, about my abortion, i decided that i need to get healed. But the thought of having to speak to someone about it and relive the past was frightening. Where do you start? How do you reach out to someone when you don’t know where to go or what to do. But as God works it I was listening to the radio and Focus on the family came on and the topic was about abortions. It was as if Pat Layton was talking to me. She knew exactly what I was going through. As soon as the program finished I looked her up and ordered her book. I joined her facebook page. After receiving the book I tried going through it but a lady on facebook private messaged me and told me I needed a friend or counsellor to work through the book with me. I then asked God to lead me to the right person and he did. I emailed Cailin and she put me in contact with Sonya. I met Sonya and we chatted the first time and she made me feel at home and she was so easy to talk to. I couldn’t wait then to go start the program. She gave me the book and asked me to work through chapter 1. Wow all the emotions flooding in while working through each chapter. I would never have been able to work through it on my own. I was scared and alone. I thought I would never be healed.

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Working through the program helped me so much. I was a broken person and I got so much healing. Not only for my abortion but for the terrible childhood I had too. Going from Ground Zero where you hit rock bottom and think there is no getting out. Confronting all the challenges, what to do and how to get through them. Getting to know your triggers, something I have never thought of. To deal with your losses and gains, wow. Dealing with your panic attacks, suffering from anxiety, talking about your feelings of guilt and shame.

I always felt like an empty shell and did not feel like I belonged anywhere. Getting pregnant and being rejected, going through all the emotions and then you go into survival mode to just make it through life. Not being good enough for anyone, feeling degraded and not knowing what your purpose in life is. Being pushed aside and just accepting what was told to you. That was my life.

Doing this program taught me to learn to accept what happened to me and to move on from the hurt and pain. To accept myself for who I am and to forgive myself. That is the hardest thing that one can do. I was living in denial for too long and now I can face the future with my head held high. I can now take ownership of what I did. I have made mistakes in the past, suffered and paid for it. God heals us by letting us revisit our past and heal us from it. We have to make peace with it. He offers us forgiveness and a brand new life. I never thought that I would ever be able to tell my story, although it was not easy, I wrote it down read it through wow. Working through the book helped to make it easier. There were guidelines to follow, thank you. It was painful but so worth it. I’ve learnt to get rid of the guilt and shame that I’ve been  carrying with me for 37 years.

This 8 weeks has really made me a different, stronger person. I could write angry letters, forgiveness letters which helps so much. Reading them aloud was so healing.

And then writing a letter to Michelle, meeting her was the best and then saying goodbye was hard. But knowing where she is makes me happy, knowing she is with our Daddy in heaven, waiting for me to join her one day. What a celebration that would be.

It was very hard but very good to work through this book. It made me realise my purpose in life, to help other ladies like me to get healed from their abortions. The Lord loves me even though I messed up. He loves me unconditionally. He forgave me. Thank you Lord for sending an angel like Sonya along my path and thank you for this book and the author Jenny McDermid for writing this book.

The Lord bless and keep you both.

Tanja

Client, Cape Town, RSA

Before I knew about the Living in Color course I was in a place of darkness and also had some anger towards God. Most of all my relationship with Him was at standstill. I thought…how come we as Christians go through things like abortion…real life problems and none of God’s people can help us to work through this pain. I mean there are courses at churches for divorce recovery, for how to raise your children, pre-marital courses but no one addresses the fallout after an abortion.

So I was desperate and willing to do any course just to find myself again… and then I saw the Tab on Hillsong’s website ” Living in Color” and surprise surprise ” an abortion specific course”. My heart could not help but stand in awe of God’s faithfulness.

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During this course I learned that having a whole lot of unidentified feelings was normal and the space that I was in have been occupied by other godly women before me as well. I was able to describe myself as I saw myself at that time, even though it wasn’t a pretty image at all. I learned that the process I was in had a name…it was called ” grieving” and this was something that had to be done thoroughly. My anger burst outs had reasons now, and the source could now be identified.

Forgiveness…oh this lovely word that for me was the most difficult thing to do.  Who do I forgive?…where do I start? and do they/ I deserve it.? I as able to write a forgiveness letter to everyone who I carried with heaviness in my heart.

The happiest and saddest part for me was ” Hello There”. I love how this course takes you to a place you never allowed your mind to go and in this manner give dignity to the baby you lost. What an important chapter in this book

And the Goodbye…now THIS felt like closure. This chapter released me, this is when I finally felt okay with letting go for now.

The healing process isn’t over…it will take constant reminder of what I’ve  done during this healing process …how God has healed and forgiven me and I believe that I will get to a place where I stop self-sabotaging and start accepting all the good things God has in store for me.

Thank you for a life changing experience Sonya and Jenny. Thank you for your hearts towards us who deal with this pain and giving us hope again. 

.

Nina

Client, Johannesburg, RSA

One morning whilst sitting in bed, I happened to scroll through my FB pages. There I found the video of Sonya sharing her testimony on her post abortion recovery. It grabbed my attention and I now know it was not by chance or accident that I viewed the CCFM clip of Sonya.

Shortly thereafter we met and she explained the programme with so much compassion and dignity. I knew this is a journey I needed to take. At first I was fearful and doubting – ‘how is this book : Living in Colour’ going to help me with my post abortion recovery?

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Oh boy! What a journey it was and still is. One lesson I learnt was to Trust the Process & allow God to do the work.

I had repressed my thoughts and feelings of my abortion of 28 years ago so deep down that many a time I would question – Did this really happen? For the first time, I could go and enquire from my Mom and she confirmed it.

As I reflect on my journal, the notes of 9/7/19 I wrote ‘It is hard, I could not get out of bed after dealing with the anger, lots of emotion, I’m crying from deep within.’ For 28 years I was walking with all of this buried so deep within that it seemed it never took place. Dealing with the Anger and Forgiveness chapters drained me. Sonya was with me every step of the way. Thank you Sonya for your empathy, gentle spirit of compassion, your kindness, your smile, your ear to listen and shoulder to cry on – always to be remembered.

I believe what you put into the process, that is what you will get out.

I had many beautiful God moments.He revealed to me my little girl and also her name through 3 different divine interventions. God is Awesome! I soaked up the time to ‘Get to know her.’ Putting the Memory Box together what beautiful soft moments. I started to feel whole again.

Here is the best part – as I was walking through the chapter of ‘Hello There’ my brother who is gifted with drawing, never painted, starts to paint in this particular week. He then sends me pics of his paintings of a mother with a little girl and the second painting is of two women walking in a garden. He then says this is God inspired as he was painting it before the Lord. I was blown away! This was by no means a coincidence. He could have painted anything else. When one allows God to do the work one can truly see the Glory of God! He revealed to me through these paintings my little girl and the young woman she would have been. As heart sore as I felt, I now know she is with God and one day I will see her again.

Thank you Jenny McDermid for a wonderful and powerful process that not only deals with the past but provides tools for the future. Also for the Word of God that gives us hope, faith and love. This is truly life changing.

I can see the restoration of my relationships with others and also with God. It feels like a blockage has been removed.

I have come to know my Saviour, Jesus Christ in a new way. I have experienced, on this journey: His Loving Kindness, Faithfulness, New Mercy and Grace in my life and for my life in the future.

Sincere Gratitude.

Tasneem

Client, Cape Town, RSA

Before I joined the living in color program I was struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. This depression started when I was 15 years old and got pregnant by my ex boyfriend I decided to have an abortion and after this I fell into a deep depression and struggled with the decision I made for years. Because my depression returned after 5 years and my second suicide attempt failed I went to South Africa. Some would say it was a coincidence the way I met Sonya but I strongly believe that it was God who led my path to hers. We met and we instantly connected Sonya is such a beautiful soul and guided me through the program with lots of love. Because I was only in South Africa for 6 weeks and only had 4 weeks left when I met her I finished most of the program by doing two chapters a week and worked really hard on my recovery I felt like my abortion was something I put away and never really healed the wound that it left. I did the last 3 chapters when I was back in Holland via skype. Even being on a different continent didn’t hold back my healing process.

 

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The program not only helped me healing the wounds that my abortion left me with, it also helped me heal in other parts of my life. Forgiving people and working through underlying anger that I still had. It taught me how to grieve, it helped me to develop as a person overall. It was a life-changing experience and I really from the bottom of my heart would recommend any woman who is struggling with the same. I know all of our stories are different but the one thing we have in common is the loss of our children. No matter what the circumstances were, the bond between mother and child is something so strong that you cannot deny it. We have to work hard, step-by-step and the living in color program is perfect to help you work through it. It has guided me and taught me so much. It was a true blessing and has changed my life forever.
Sameera

Client, Holland

Let’s  Get In TOUCH

Your journey to post-abortion recovery and healing can start now by asking for help. Send us a confidential inquiry message and we will follow-up within 24 hours.

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