Due to a widespread and ongoing media blitz, a movement entitled “Me Too” has come to the attention of the majority of Americans. The Me Too movement has witnessed an upswing in awareness of sexual harassment and violence in America, especially in the workplace. However, sexual abuse is not only running rampant at work; it is also an issue at home.
Nichole Braddock Bromley, the founder of OneVoice, a non-profit organization working to end child trafficking around the world, came to visit Covenant College a few weeks ago. She came bearing the story of her survival of childhood abuse and her mission to reach out to those still suffering from the impacts of sexual abuse. She told us of a book she wrote called “Hush” and encouraged us to do the opposite of her title. Speaking out will spread awareness, which in turn helps victims gain the courage to confront their pain.
In “Hush,” Bromley reports, “I have found that many people think sexual violence could never touch them or affect anyone close to them. Yet the reality is that sexual abuse takes place everywhere… It occurs where we least expect it.” Ignorance and denial may be a reason people continue to suffer. Bromley, who was abused by her stepfather, shared a memory of a time when she tried to seek help from a grade school teacher after being showed an educational video on sexual abuse. The teacher brushed aside her plea for help, and the violence continued in Bromley’s life.
We must be on the lookout for opportunities such as the one Bromley’s teacher disregarded. If and when a friend reaches out to us about abuse that has scarred his or her life, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be instrumental in their healing process. We can let the victim know we believe them, the abuse was not their fault, and we are here to talk whenever they need to.
“Sexual abuse is more than an attack on our body,” says Bromley, “it’s an assault on emotions, mind, and spirit.” Because of this, survivors need help from faithful friends and family to rehabilitate. We can be the ones to listen to what happened to our friend, believe them, tell them they did not deserve the abuse, and get them help; whether it be from the authorities, a counselor, a pastor, or merely our presence there, supporting them.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you must know you are not alone. “I decided that my situation had to be unique. I shoved the thoughts out of my mind as soon as they came. I was in denial.” Bromley also suffered from the idea she was the only one struggling in this way; she did not want to face the shame and the pain she felt would come with speaking out. However, surveys insist sexual harassment is frequent. The National Center for Victims of Crime estimated one in every three girls, and one in every six boys are sexually abused by the time they turn 18.
These numbers are staggering, and now that victims are aware they are not alone, they have been breaking the silence and taking the first step toward healing by saying “Me Too.” Even if we are not victims of sexual abuse, we are one body in Christ, and are affected because other members of our community have been.
Acts 20:28 says, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” God promises to give justice to those who harm his children when Christ returns, but he also calls us, now, to be on the lookout for and build up those who are hurting. We must choose to accept the obligation to be ready when someone seeks help and be educated on the best way to walk with them toward healing.