OneVOICE4freedom was founded by Nicole Bromley, who is a sexual abuse survivor, author, and international spokesperson on sexual abuse and human trafficking.
We met Nicole in person back in September, and we were so inspired by her heart and passion, to use her story bravely to fight against sex trafficking! Her work began as a voice for sexual abuse survivors when she founded OneVOICE in 2003, an organization dedicated to creating awareness about sexual abuse and empowering survivors. She has since written several books and become an international activist. As many of the stories she heard of sexual abuse began to overlap with stories of trafficking, Nicole began to clearly see common threads and links and had an urge to be part of the solution to sex slavery.
We had the honor to do a written interview with Nicole, and asked her to share about OneVOICE4freedom :
Q: Nicole, could you share with us what sparked the birth of OneVOICE4freedom?
A: In order to talk about the birth of OneVOICE4freedom, I have to first talk about my own story a little bit. For as far back as I can remember I was sexually abused by my stepfather.
I lived in silence and shame until I was 14 years old, when I finally found my voice and broke my silence over what I was going through.
Through my journey of healing, I understood more and more how powerful and needed my voice was in helping other survivors find theirs. In 2003, I began an organization called OneVOICE, which is dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence and empowering survivors. I speak at universities, churches, conference, telling my story and I listen to the stories of other survivors. Through years of being the recipient of survivor voices, I realized how many stories of sexual abuse overlap with stories of sex trafficking. So many survivors of abuse were telling me that they had runaway from home—where their abuse was occurring—and unknowingly ran right into the arms of a trafficker, someone who seemed like the answer to their prayers, but ended up being their worst nightmares. My heart broke for these survivors and I decided I had to whatever I could to be part of the solution to sex slavery.
In 2010, I began a campaign across East Africa to "Stamp Out Child Sexual Abuse and Trafficking" and I had the opportunity to become the first woman to give a public address on sexual abuse and child sex slavery in the country of Uganda. My involvement in anti-trafficking work grew and, in 2012, I had the incredible opportunity to travel with a film crew into the brothels of Southeast Asia. I interviewed enslaved girls as well as mothers in remote villages who had been tricked into selling their daughters into slavery. The stories I heard were horrifying. I returned home completely heartbroken from the experience, but through those cracks in my heart, God began to shine light in, fill me with passion and give me a vision for changing the story of sex trafficking. Within a few months, OneVOICE4freedom was born—an organization that stops child sex trafficking before it starts.
Q: OneVOICE4freedom is doing wonderful work both domestically and internationally. Could you tell us what are the ways in which OneVOICE4freedom is combatting sex trafficking?
A: At OneVOICE4freedom, we get in front the problem to stop sex trafficking before it starts. One of the ways that we do this internationally is by offering a free pair of shoes for a child if their caretakers will attend our educational presentation on child sex trafficking. In Cambodia and East Africa, children are often trafficked through deceptive tricks that involves traffickers offering free education and a paying job for children from remote villages. In desperation and love, parents send their children to what they believe is an opportunity for them to escape poverty. The children are unknowingly being sold into sex slavery, and the heartbroken parents never hear from them again.
In our educational presentations, we warn them of these deceitful tactics, the long term effects and ask them to pledge to protect the children of their villages.
We beat traffickers to the villages they target and empower families with resources and tools to drive evil traffickers out of their villages.
We also build safe house schools, hire teachers, and support students. Lastly, we distribute copies of my book, Hush, which has been translated and published in Cambodia and East Africa. This book further tells my story and the stories of many other survivors, and of finding freedom, hope, and healing after child sexual abuse.
Domestically, we work to empower at-risk youth and to support survivors. By distributing "freedom bags" (backpacks full of basic needs hygiene products, nonperishables, and resource cards) to victims working on the streets and to those coming off the streets, we help girls and women feel loved and supported as many of them take a huge step in their healing journeys, entering safe houses and recovery homes. We also serve hot meals, hand out freedom bags, and build relationships with homeless youth and runaways, who are some of the most at-risk population for becoming victims of sex trafficking. We host "pamper parties" for women who are still being trafficked or women who are in recovery to help them feel seen, valued, and loved. We also provide unique curriculum and educational programming to community organizations, churches, universities, schools, and prisons.
We empower survivor voices to educate our youth and help them notice red flags in their own relationships or lives of their friends at school or church.
We help all audiences learn about human trafficking and we empower everyone to be a solution. By employing survivors as empowered advocates and speakers, we support their journeys and help them use their voice to change the world.
Q: From your experience, what would you say is the toughest challenge in helping and caring for trafficking survivors?
A: One of toughest challenges is to stay hopeful when you find that a girl you helped get rescued and into a recovery program has returned to one of her traffickers and is back working on the street. You have to have a lot of patience and meet these girls where they are at, over and over, and never give up on anyone.
Q: Could you share with us your favorite story of victory you have witnessed?
A: In 2010 I met a single mom in Cambodia named Yem. She had been tricked by traffickers and put her daughters on a bus, thinking she was sending them off for a better life than she could provide them, but when one daughter returned a couple of years later in a coma and eventually dying from the trauma inflicted on her as a a child sex slave, Yem was willing to do all she could to find her other daughter. When every possible road ended in a dead end, she became so grief stricken and sad. It was the deepest pain I have ever seen. And, as a mom myself, I know what its like to have your heart running around in little bodies everyday and her pain hurt my heart more than anything.
We did everything we could to help her stay afloat. We bought her a house, supported her recovery, and I paid for her bus ticket to come see me every time I returned to Cambodia to do anti-trafficking presentations. Every time I saw her, she cried and cried and the first thing she asked me was whether or not I had found her daughter. It never changed. I came home from one of those missions and told my closest friends that I felt like Yem needed to begin to accept that her daughter was dead, so she could begin to heal. As much as I had tried to help her hold onto hope, I was beginning to lose hope myself. A couple of months later, I received a message that I never expected. Her daughter has been returned!
Six years after I first met her, her daughter escaped and found her mom! It was a clear reminder to me that WE ALWAYS HAVE HOPE!
Never give up on any person or any situation, because there is always hope. It was just what I needed to energize me as the visionary in this work and to keep up the great fight.
Q: What are the immediate needs of OneVOICE4freedom? How can we, the every day person, support you in fighting sex trafficking?
A: Number one, stop and listen to the stories of those around you. Change begins in our own neighborhoods when we value each other's stories and treat each other gently and with compassion. Be a safe person for your friends and acquaintances who might be silently suffering with shame or fear or circumstances you have no idea about.
Secondly, there are a number of ways that you can get involved with OneVOICE4freedom.
Empower: Educate your school, community, church, or small group about sexual abuse and human trafficking. Contact us to have a survivor share their story and empower your community through awareness, hope, healing, and being a solution to injustice.
Volunteer: Partner with us as we make and provide basic needs bags, serve meals, and host pampering parties.
Donate: One of the simplest ways to get involved is through monetary and practical gifts. Become a monthly or one-time donor by using our online giving tool. Follow us on Facebook for the most current list of practical items needed for our upcoming outreaches and pamper parties.
Shop: Support us when you shop through Amazon Smile and check out our online store where we have books, designer apparel, and accessories. All proceeds fund our anti-trafficking and sexual abuse awareness efforts.
You can also support OneVOICE4freedom by purchasing our shirts and products, spread the word about this amazing organization and their fight against the injustice of human trafficking. 10% of all our sales until FEBRUARY 24 will be donated to OneVOICE4freedom. CLICK HERE TO SHOP