Nicole Bromley was 14-years-old the first time she shared her story of being sexually abused. She hasn’t stopped since.
The founder of One Voice Enterprises, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness of sexual abuse and sex trafficking, told her story to Trevecca students in chapel on Tuesday.
Growing up in small town Ohio, Bromley was the poster child of their community. She played sports, attended school, and came from what seemed the picture perfect family. But what was going on behind closed doors led Bromley to live a life of secrets.
Her step father molested Bromley from the ages of four to 14. Whether on family vacations, or the backseat of their family van, nowhere was safe.
“He made me feel like I had asked for this abuse, or that I somehow deserved it,” said Bromley. “I never knew if what he was doing was actually wrong.”
It wasn’t until Bromley was 14 that she shared her secret with her mother and realized how wrong the behavior was.
After a tense period of reporting to the police and going into hiding to protect themselves, Bromley ‘s step father shot himself.
“I was so angry that he took the easy way out, and that I would never see justice served on this earth for what he did to me,” said Bromley.
Bromley vowed after her stepfather’s suicide that she would never tell anyone her story again. But those plans changed after she went to a Nazarene youth conference at 15-years-old and she told her story in front of more than 300 kids.
“I don’t know what came over me to make me share my secret, but after I got back home, I started receiving letter after letter in the mail from kids at that same conference who had been too scared to tell their story,” said Bromley.
This led Bromley to start One Voice.
“I have a mission to help other people find their voice,” said Bromley. “There is so much power in being able to say, ‘Me too’ and knowing that other people have been through what you’ve been through.”
“I thought her story was inspiring,” said sophomore Amber Donat. “Sexual abuse is such an important thing to talk about, and I feel like we don’t discuss it enough in our culture.”
Other students said hearing Bromley’s story helps others know they can share theirs if they want or need to.
“By her sharing her story, it opened up a window of opportunity for other victims to feel safe when they share theirs.” said sophomore Emily Kriner.
Bromley’s experience has led her from college campuses all over the United States to the brothels of Cambodia where she interviewed girls trapped in sex slavery.
“One girl I interviewed talked about how she felt like she couldn’t be rescued. She truly felt as if living in a cage and being forced to have sex with eight to 10 men a night was her purpose in life.”
Human trafficking often occurs because parents who sell their girls are not aware that the promises of a better future are lies the traffickers spread. Bromley realized that educating the people in these villages on human trafficking could put a significant dent in the success rate of the traffickers.
“We began collecting hundreds of pairs of shoes and selling them in nearby villages,” said Bromley. “Parents and children would come from miles around to get a pair of shoes, and this was where we began teaching them about human trafficking.”
Through her work advocating for victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse, Bromley herself has found healing.
“My secrets made me feel ashamed. Pain is what put me into hiding, but purpose is what called me out.”