On Monday, author and childhood sexual abuse victim Nicole Braddock Bromley came to campus to share her story of pain and healing with Colgate students, faculty and administration. She was here as a part of a series of events presented by the Colgate Christian Fellowship “on sexuality and human worth,” University Chaplain Mark Mann said.
Bromley is the founder and director of One Voice Enterprises and has been speaking for six years advocating the outing of, in her own words, “this obscure crime that has been kept a secret in society.” Bromley challenged the Colgate campus to become aware of all types of sexual abuse, to be an open ear and to help break the silence of those who have been abused.
A self-proclaimed “poster-child” of her small community in rural Ohio, Bromley was part of an upstanding family, Homecoming Queen and a triple athlete. However, her picture-perfect life was only a fa?cade used to hide her inner pain, for she was being sexually abused by her stepfather and had been since the age of three. It wasn’t until she was fourteen that Bromley revealed to her mother what her stepfather had been doing to her.
Now, at the age of 27, after a long journey towards healing, Bromley considers herself a survivor, not a victim, and is working to help other sexual abuse survivors take their first steps towards healing themselves.
In her book, Hush: Moving from Silence to Healing after Childhood Sexual Abuse, Bromley explains that breaking the silence of her secret and realizing what happened to her was not her fault were two of the most important aspects of her continuous road to recovery.
She is one of the lucky ones, though.
“The majority of stories I hear are about people not being believed and told to keep silent,” Bromley explained. “That is why I titled my book Hush because that is what so many people hear when they reveal what has happened to them. And this silence only allows the cycle of abuse to continue to the next generation.”
Bromley worked to talk with her audience in the Memorial Chapel and at the Brown Bag held on Tuesday in the Women’s Studies center. She created an open dialogue, creating a comfortable environment for asking any sort of question they had about sexual abuse. She emphasized the necessity of talking about sexual abuse issues, especially on college campuses, since the definitions of rape and abuse are at times not fully understood by college students, or else instances of abuse are kept quiet for social reasons.
Students at the brown bag agreed that occurrences of sexual abuse are often covered up or not spoken about at Colgate since the campus is so small and rumors can be easily started and spread.
Bromley revealed that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually assaulted on college campuses in America, and with these facts encouraged all who were present to set an example on this campus to not be afraid to speak out for victims and even as victims of sexual abuse. She explained that, for victims, healing is a choice, and in order to be empowered to break their silence and expose their abusers they need to be educated about what is happening to them and that there are people who will help them stop it.
“Sexual abuse is an issue that cuts across all boundaries,” Bromley said. “We need to stop pretending it doesn’t happen and no longer allow it to be a silent crime.”