One in six boys are sexually abused before age 18.
One in three girls are sexually abused before age 18.
It is time that the Church break the silence of sexual abuse. It does happen in our homes and churches. Refusing to “speak of the elephant in the room” is only continuing the damage done to our children. Nicole Bromley, founder of OneVOICE Enteprises, is going a long way to gently bringing the light of Truth into these volatile situations. She promotes the healing that can be found with “the Source of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1). A victim of sexual abuse herself, she deals plainly and lovingly with the issues that all victims face. As a speaker and author Nicole impacts thousands of people’s lives on an annual basis. Hush, published by Moody Publishers, is a wonderful tool to bring healing to the hurting.
Bromley begins by sharing her story. She then begins to deal with the issues and fears that each sexual abused victim faces and, as a good friend, gently leads them through those fears to embrace Truth. I will list the chapter titles and then list a brief description of each:
- A Legacy of “Hush” – Abusers are typically very controlling and “overprotective” to ensure that “their secret” doesn’t get out. Isolation of victims is characteristic of sexual abusers, so that the victim does not realize that other families don’t do these things. “Keeping silent was taking a terrible toll”.
- The Lie that Binds – Abusers often make the victim feel that it was the victim’s choice to be abused. Various lies spill out of this control: “Lie: I could have stopped it”; “Lie: I wanted it”; “Lie: I am responsible for my family’s happiness”, etc. Victims are often afraid to speak up because they believe no-one will believe them. “The lie that your abuse was your fault keeps you in bondage and afraid to tell”.
- Finding the Courage to Tell – Please, break the silence! Some decisions the victim will need to make to break the silence: “Whom should I tell?”, “How much should I tell?”, “Should I tell the authorities?”. “Don’t submit to the bondage of silence. Break it!!”
- In Search of Power – Victims of sexual abuse quick learn to keep from being hurt again they must take control. In the process, the victims become very controlling in an attempt to protect themselves. Often they take on these characteristics: “the control freak”, “the perfectionist”, “the tough girl”, “the people pleaser” and the “princess in the tower”. This chapter was very enlightening to me personally.
- The Truth that Sets You Free – Nicole speaks to the need for the sexual abuse victim to know God. In this relationship with a truly loving Father, the process will begin with replacing the lies with Truth. Bromley lists several of Satan’s lies and refutes them with God’s Truth. She also graciously speaks to how to live with the unanswered questions that many victims carry with them through life.
- Choosing Life – Nicole uses this chapter to call the victims of sexual abuse to move forward in their lives. She explains that victims are called to “Step out”, “Persevere”, be “Emotionally Free”, be a “Masterpiece” and to “Choose”. “Healing can’t occur in a prison built on a the lie that we have the power to protect ourselves from pain by controlling our own life”.
- The Cure for the Unforgiving Heart – Anger is a fitting response to what has happened to victims. Embracing God’s forgiveness for us, will aid in enabling us to also forgive our abusers – no matter how difficult that seems right now. It is possible. Victims need to “recognize God’s standard of forgiveness”, “relinquish the right to revenge”, “rebuke Satan’s lies” and recall the forgiveness granted by Jesus Christ. Please know that this does not mean that you must stay in an unsafe situation!!
- Cutting the Cord – Forgiveness will start in your heart and then it may progress to face-to-face encounters. You may also need to forgive those who enabled your abuser to abuse you.
- All You Need – What are the needs of the victim of sexual abuse? “The need to feel safe”, “the need for trust”, “the need to be understood”, and “the need to feel complete”. “Love is at the heart of our relationships with others, and it is real”. (1 John 4:8)
- The Desires of Your Heart – Bromley uses this chapter to deal with the practical consequences that victims of sexual abuse face in the marriage relationship. She speaks to “finding the perfect mate”, “overcoming obstacles to intimacy”, “the wedding night”, and “the marriage bed”. Sexual abuse does have consequences and often these creep into the most precious intimacy provided for us by those who truly love us the most. Nicole states it well, “…I have found that living with my fears brings me more hurt and chaos than facing them and trusting the Lord to help me overcome them…”
- Making a Difference – There is life, and ministry, after sexual abuse. In the healing process, the sexual abuse victim must eventually think of ways to make a difference in the lives of others who might be abused or abusing. Nicole uses one of my favorite passages, 2 Corinthians 1, to reinforce this call to ministry. “You may feel you don’t have much to give, but what you do have may be exactly what someone else is desperately searching for”.
I highly recommend this book for those who have been abused, those who counsel abuse victims and anyone who desires more insight into the life and thoughts of an abuse victim. This book is excellently written and easy to understand.
RECOMMENDED: 180 pages, soft cover.