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News, thoughts and love from speaker/author/activist, Nicole Braddock Bromley, and her friends at OneVOICE.

www.iamonevoice.org

www.onevoice4freedom.org

20 October 14

Heroes in a Half Shell

In each of my books I write extensively about the need to be real, to be transparent, to remove the masks we wear, to come out from hiding and share openly. This is a key to unlocking healing; but it is a daunting task for survivors of abuse.

We learned early on that the world is not safe.
Being vulnerable can be frightening.
People will hurt you.

In Hush I explain

“sexual abuse is like a bolt of lightening that strikes us at our very core. It’s more than an attack on our body; it’s an assault on our emotions, mind, and spirit. Part of our being is completely frozen in that moment of betrayal, confusion, sadness, hurt, and shame.” (page 28)

For some of us, that is when we first dragged ourselves into our shell of protection.

I remember it well as a teenager:

“I believed that if I created a tough outer shell, no one could use my weaknesses against me because, as far as I was concerned, they could never get close enough to find any.” (Hush, 59)

Eventually, in college, I got some healing…found some courage…felt some freedom…came slowly out of my shell…engaged in healthy community…picked safe people…found my identity in who God said I was…gained some confidence in myself…and ran with it.

God blessed that brave season.
But our story doesn’t end in a few solid steps.
This is a lifelong healing journey.
With ups and downs. Round and rounds.
Twists. Turns.
Cuts. Burns.

If you are a survivor of abuse, like me, there was a time when you wondered if every person would eventually be found out as a liar or addict and would inevitably stab you somewhere, somehow. Your hiding place was necessary. It was all you knew to do considering what you had experienced.

But your pain does not equal your purpose.
Your life is not meant to like a hermit stored away along the side of the road.

On the other hand, some us have to learn that it is unwise to give everything we have to others—to remain open, vulnerable and handing your heart to any new pal along the way—looking for love, validation or identity. And it is especially harmful to keep giving yourself to old “friends” you’ve allowed to tag along on your journey, the ones who seem to hurt you over and over and over…

Finding freedom to thrive means accepting that there are people who can be trusted, people who are safe and loving—but engaging carefully, because the fact remains that we cannot trust them all, or all the time. So, though I am a loud voice on finding your freedom and loving people deep, I am also a warrior, and it is in my blood to be fierce and to protect the young and the victimized. I have given everything in my life to fight for others. But I am now finally learning how important it is to fight for and protect myself, too.

Matthew 10:16 says, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” It is possible to be kind and gracious and giving, yet still tread carefully.

AKA: Keep your shell within reach.

Being a public figure, especially an activist on issues of sexual abuse and human trafficking, many of you know I have had to live within some pretty strict boundaries. Even still, I care for people. I care deeply for broken people. I can get my hands pretty dirty when I feel called to it. I bleed for those God calls me to meet in the trenches. I will run naked to the ends of the earth for them to find hope and healing. But in doing so, I have lost sight of my shell. And that has cost some things. Some things I don’t regret at all, and some things I painfully do. And, in those situations where I have felt hurt, belittled, forgotten, defeated or destroyed, I have had to spend too much time wandering off the path, looking for my own shell, my protection, my peace.

So, though I have advocated for years about breaking out of your safe place, finding your voice, and knowing who you are, I want to use my voice as a warning to my survivor friends to, at the same time, understand the importance of your shell and keeping it in sight.

The shell is not only a place of protection but a symbol of self-care.

You can’t invest in others if you don’t invest in yourself.
You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself.
You cant care for others if you don’t care for yourself.

On the spiritual side of things, if we fail to clothe ourselves daily with our spiritual armor, we leave ourselves open to Satan’s deception. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Like me, you may have broken out of your shell many years ago and may be many strides down the healing path, even speaking out and reaching out to other survivors. There will most definitely be times of celebration and true freedom along the way…so take off your clothes and party your guts out!

But don’t give up when you come to those barren places on your journey, when you need to put on some layers, or you may just need to crawl into your safe place for a season and let God restore your soul. Hibernate for a while. This is not a step back in your healing…this is self-care. This is your protection.

My pastor, Rich Nathan, said recently, “Sometimes your day or your season is not about forward progress; it’s about just being able to stand.”

You may be up against so much opposition, surrounded by so much dysfunction, drowning in so much pain, heartache, feelings of betrayal and grief, that your biggest victory will simply be in resisting —pushing back against that thing that is trying to destroy you.

If you are pickin up what I’m puttin down right now, I encourage you to find the strength to pause; go into that safe space where you find your peace; spend some time doing self-care; fight for yourself.

There is a time to be open and a time to retract.

Retracting to self-care doesn’t make you weak, selfish or insensitive; it has the power to make you stronger and smarter, working out of a place of peace, so that when it is time to break back out there you will be able to give it your best.

You can only truly love the ones around you when you are truly loving yourself.

So take care of you. Care for your heart.
Breathe. Listen. It is okay to take a pause now and then. It is ok to hide inside your protection and choose peace when things outside are too painful. It is okay to soar above all the games and confusion when you cant handle being immersed in it. It’s okay to rest and it’s okay to be alone.  

Find yourself and your Creator within that pause, within that place of hiddenness, brokenness, unraveledness.
The place of learning when to hold on and when to let go.
Of left foot, right foot.
You are getting somewhere.
Even when you are not moving.
Sometimes God does His greatest work when you choose to just be still.


~Nicole Bromley, A Hero in a Half Shell

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9 October 14

When You Wonder if it Matters

This journey can feel like a joke. Sometimes funny, sometimes cruel.
At times, a tragedy. Usually a drama. And almost always a mystery.
It’s a dream. It’s a nightmare.
It’s a guessing game.
It’s hide and seek.
It’s Twister. It’s a roller coaster.
It can bring forth an awesome birth. 
It can feel like an agonizing death.
And last for a long.

Long.

Time.

Its winning. Its losing.
Its everything in between.
Its hoping.
Its being letdown.
It gives to you. It grows you.
It burns you. It refines you.
Its asks a lot of you. Takes all of you.
But nonetheless, keep going, keep walking. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

Because it matters.

I am telling myself as much as I am telling you. 

You are important in this story; you matter; everything you have done matters.
Even when you gave your all… and it wasn’t enough.
Even when he failed you.
She failed you.
Even when it hurt so deeply that you wanted to end it all. Even that moment when you really thought about it—it mattered.

Your questions matter.
Your search matters.
Your truth matters.

Your silence mattered. Your tears are remembered.
The anger, clenched fists, screams, hidden journal, the ink, the blood, the cry closet—are all part of something bigger than you can see right now or even know about right now. The aches, cuts and brokenness you carry with you from this place to that place have created a trail that will make sense later.

You don’t know about it yet—you can’t see it yet—but this is what we call the great surprise. This is the hope we still have in being alive.

Hold on.

~Nicole Bromley

8 October 14

halftheskymovement:

Wrong Responses to Rape by artist Liza Donnelly. 

Reblogged: halftheskymovement

6 October 14

Mental Health Day & Mental Illness Awareness Week

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. Since 1990, the first full week of October has been established as Mental Illness Awareness Week to bring awareness to mental illness, fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. 

We believe that these issues are important to address all year, but highlighting these issues during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

It has become customary for the Tuesday of this week to be recognized as a National Day of Prayer for Recovery and Understanding.

The prayers and actions of both faith communities and secular organizations are needed to restore mental wellness in America. In seeking
God’s guidance we can recommit ourselves to replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and love in order to offer hope to all who are touched by mental illness.

Join us in prayer tomorrow. Pray for those with mental illness, pray for their families and close friends, pray for the mental healthcare professionals walking them through recovery.

Studies show one in four adults in America will be affected by a mental illness at some point in their lives and many will never receive treatment.

Because I care so much for them and their battle—because I care so much for their families and friends who are also affected on a daily basis—because I care about health and hope and wholeness here on earth—I wanted to share something that I have found most helpful and hopeful in the many years I have studied and reached out to those affected by mental illness.

Beginning on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 3:00 AM EDT 24 Hours of Hope will be streamed online for at this link.

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24 Hours of Hope is a FREE global online event designed to encourage individuals living with a mental illness, educate and support their families, and equip church leaders for compassionate and effective mental health ministry.

The 24 Hours of Hope broadcast features messages designed to offer hope as well as practical tools to those living with depression, Bipolar Disorder, eating disorders, addictions, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Topics include removing stigma, suicide-risk reduction, church counseling, support groups, crisis management, and holistic care.

I believe this online event will open eyes, hearts and minds and benefit all of us… watch the intro video here to get an understanding of the event and then plan to join this Friday when you can. 

4 October 14

Oct = DV Awareness

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October has always been a very busy month for me, speaking out on abuse at college campuses across America. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a good time to bring tough topics to light and share hope for a brighter tomorrow. This is why I decided to quickly share a few resources for anyone looking to get more educated this month or to get involved in the fight against Intimate Partner Abuse…

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? The willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.

WHY DOES IT MATTER? Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Intimate partner violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior which is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

"Violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," says Dr. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization Director-General.

More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. 

Dating violence is domestic violence. 

Women ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. In fact, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year and more than half of the women who are raped are under the age of 18.

The Power Wheel is something I have found most accurately describes abusive relationships. 

Think of the wheel as a diagram of the tactics an abusive partner uses to keep their victim/partner in the relationship. While the inside of the wheel is comprised of subtle, continual behaviors, the outer ring represents physical, visible violence. These are the abusive acts that are more overt and forceful, and often the intense acts that reinforce the regular use of other subtler methods of abuse.

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On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

Free, safe, confidential hotline:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233).

http://www.thehotline.org

Online Database of U.S. Domestic Violence shelters:

www.domesticshelters.org

Other Resources…Get involved!

http://www.ncadv.org

http://www.nnedv.org

25 September 14
I loved getting to speak and share my story, journey and vision to stop child #sextrafficking at the #onevoice4freedom fundraiser in my own city of #columbus #ohio last week. Such a fun event. Incredible music from my favorites @laceytown and @shawn_mcdonald_music. An artshow featuring amazing pieces from my friend @christencushing and just a great, chill night with friends who care about fighting injustice and changing the world.

I loved getting to speak and share my story, journey and vision to stop child #sextrafficking at the #onevoice4freedom fundraiser in my own city of #columbus #ohio last week. Such a fun event. Incredible music from my favorites @laceytown and @shawn_mcdonald_music. An artshow featuring amazing pieces from my friend @christencushing and just a great, chill night with friends who care about fighting injustice and changing the world.

24 September 14
10 September 14
#Death was always at my door;  #pain would ask me to reach for the handle; but #God stood in that space between us. And #purpose called me to more. 
#hope #jeremiah2911
#nspw14 #wspd14 #nationalsuicidepreventionweek #suicideprevention #worldsuicidepreventionday #nooneelse14

#Death was always at my door; #pain would ask me to reach for the handle; but #God stood in that space between us. And #purpose called me to more.
#hope #jeremiah2911
#nspw14 #wspd14 #nationalsuicidepreventionweek #suicideprevention #worldsuicidepreventionday #nooneelse14

9 September 14
Hopping on a flight to ATL right now and speaking at Shorter University (Rome, GA) tomorrow. All you sweet little #Georgia peaches better be there 🍑💚 would love to meet you.

Hopping on a flight to ATL right now and speaking at Shorter University (Rome, GA) tomorrow. All you sweet little #Georgia peaches better be there 🍑💚 would love to meet you.

Tags: georgia
Posted: 2:26 PM
Still in need of funding for chairs for some of the new classrooms as well as teachers desks, white boards and student tables. If you can help fill our new school in Cambodia, please give online via www.onevoice4freedom.org and make a note of what you want your gift to specifically fund: $7 per chair, $30 per white board (need 4), $70 per teacher desk (need 6), $40 per student table (need 24). THANK YOU TO ANY WHO CAN CONTRIBUTE! All donations are tax deductible. Education is key to prevention of child slavery and these children are in a highly vulnerable area.

Still in need of funding for chairs for some of the new classrooms as well as teachers desks, white boards and student tables. If you can help fill our new school in Cambodia, please give online via www.onevoice4freedom.org and make a note of what you want your gift to specifically fund: $7 per chair, $30 per white board (need 4), $70 per teacher desk (need 6), $40 per student table (need 24). THANK YOU TO ANY WHO CAN CONTRIBUTE! All donations are tax deductible. Education is key to prevention of child slavery and these children are in a highly vulnerable area.

Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh