In this episode, I am joined by the brave and wonderful Nancy V. Brown as she shares with us what drives her passion for helping children who have experienced abuse. Through her own experience of child abuse at the age of 5, Nancy is a survivor who understands and is advocating for children to have safe places to share their stories. She has difficult conversations about child abuse and suicide to reduce the shame and embarrassment for children. Listen in to her powerful healing journey as she encourages us to find hope and heal together.
About our guest:
Nancy V Brown is a suicide and sexual child abuse survivor. She went through the Foster care system, and was a teen mom and high school dropout who is now pursuing her doctoral degree. She is an author, founder of Brave Girls Rise Up, and a Healing coach. Her personal experience, self-healing, and heart for healing others lead her to start her podcast My HummingBird Sings where she shares testimonies, spiritual healing, education, and stories of HOPE.
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I know you, you’re afraid to speak up, you’re scared of what other people think of you. And you blame yourself for what happened to you. I know how it feels. Because I’ve been there. If you found me, I’m so grateful you are here. This podcast will give you hope. And I’m your host in a made ANOVA. And I’m going to hold your hand and provide the guidance. It’s time for you to find your why. And turn your experience into your biggest power. This is your time now. So lock your door, put your headphones in, and enjoy.Anna Maydonova:
Nancy V Brown, welcome to the world’s best Trauma Recovery podcast.Nancy V Brown:
Hi, it’s wonderful, honored to be here with the world’s best trauma recovery coach. Thank you, for having me.Anna Maydonova:
Nancy, it’s a such a pleasure and such a blessing for me to know you. And I have a first question for you, Nancy, talking about mental health, and what’s going on in the world right now, regarding COVID, and the war, and all the work that you do for children with sexual abuse prevention with suicide prevention, bullying, prevention? How? How do you keep yourself motivated and focused and positive?Nancy V Brown:
Well, I’m gonna be honest with you. The way that I keep myself positive and motivated is I focus on hope. I focus on hope, I feel like if you still have a little bit of hope, okay, then anything is possible. And so for me, I try to focus on my healing, and, and really trying to help other people who are in that same broken place that you have already walked through, that also helps me to, to, to feel like I’m contributing to society, especially with what we’re talking about in regards to mental health, mental conditions, mental illness, you know, mental illness is that the seas just like any other disease, like cancer, like diabetes, like obesity, those are all diseases. And I just think that the more we talk about things, and the more we are transparent, and the more we educate ourselves, then the stronger of a community we can become. And we can’t win. You know, suicide is preventable, is preventable, but because we don’t want to talk about it, we’re embarrassed or we feel judged, or there’s a stigma connected to it, then that stigma makes us shy away from talking about it from being transparent with other people, when you’re dealing with, you know, people who are judgmental, and make me comments when you do start to share and to open up, when you’re in a position in on a platform where you’re helping people, you do experience that you experience, you know, people who are going to be supportive, and then you experience people that are going to be not happy that you’re speaking on that topic. So yeah, the way that I try to encourage myself and encourage other people is by continuing to talk about things that I’m in control up. No, I can’t change everything in the world. But I can make steps to help make some steps towards every little step that will help us to get there. And so I’m just trying to be a part of the step takers and take the steps take the big steps, even though I’m still healing and recovering myself. There’s times that I’m in a very sensitive state, and I have to recognize that they unlearn myself. I spent a lot of time with myself. And so, you know, learning yourself learning new triggers, learning what works for you, and what doesn’t, and all of that. So I’m definitely just looking to help fix the issue as we continue to heal together at this point.Anna Maydonova:
Thank you, Nancy. I really love how you say, control what you can control and spend more time with yourself. I really resonate with with this and it helped me a lot just to stay focused on myself and say and what inspires you . So, to become the biggest advocate and ambassador for children,Nancy V Brown:
you know, I, I went through child sexual abuse at the age of five years old. So then, um, you know, it’s something that I suppressed and kept in the back of my database pretty much. Because I’ve always had to overcome something, I always had to fight through something, I always have to clean up something that I might have, that I contributed to. So definitely, me myself understanding the challenges involved with recovery as a child, sexual abuse survivor, and knowing that I educate myself and and I understand the importance of educating myself and understand that it’s also about who gives you the information. If the person that’s educating you has empathy, if they also share with you that they’ve been through it, you know, those things help to open up a door for someone to feel safe to talk about that particular topic. And knowing that I had the heart and the compassion, the empathy and understanding, and, you know, and the education because I, again, I try and try to train myself, it would really, really be wrong, if I didn’t rise up and continue to advocate for, for this particular area, which is near and dear to my heart. As as it relates to child sexual abuse. Me Yeah. But, you know, you know, I did go through this, and I suppressed it, but in the back of my head, and things would happen in life, and I would fall down and I would fight with rejection, or I would fight with depression or would fight with anxiety. And to bring it back. Why did I advocate in this particular area? Was it mental health that you said, orAnna Maydonova:
mental health and, and sign your child suicide prevention and,Nancy V Brown:
and yeah, basically, just as a survivor, who understood every area of the topic that is being talked about in regards to that topic, I just really felt that it was especially important now. I mean, it’s always been important for me, as I got older to help people, but he’s always been more private, just talking to people and just being supportive like that. But as you know, as the doors are opening for us to have healthier conversations, and first to heal together, forgive each other, because forgiveness is such a big part of my healing journey. And I just want to share, I just really want to share those things with survivors or with people who are new to this there. You know, every day children are being sexually abused every day, a parent has to now figure out how to talk to this child, every day, a child is committing, well, I’m sorry, every day a child is passing away by way of suicide. Every day, we’re having these same conversations. And every day, we’re trying to find ways to change the problems so that we invite these conversations and make them be okay and be safe and be non judgmental. And so I think putting down our titles, a lot of times putting down our titles, and just coming down to the level of the person who’s broken and letting them know that you understand like, look, I have your back, I have you. I like when I say I got you, I got to when I say I understand you, understands you. And so a lot of humility comes with that. Because when when you’ve been through that level of abuse, a lot of times you build a hard shell because you have to rebuild and strength. Every time you fall down, you have to rebuild as friends and that shell just becomes harder. And so a lot of times as we’re recovering, we become harder and we become not approachable and people don’t realize that you are a safe space. So I just want to make sure that people know that we are a safe space.Anna Maydonova:
I 100% agree with you, Nancy. I think as an adult, especially poor went through her horrible experience or of sexual abuse, we have responsibilities for other children, to show them to be a to lead by example, to show them the courage to show them the bravery of speaking up, to show them self belief, to show them that we are someone who they can relate to. We are someone who can, who will listen to them, and will support them and will believe them. Because while we keep it in secret, more and more people, more and more kids are struggling from this horrible abuses. Nancy, we know that 95% of sexual abuse especially is happening within a family, by family members. Why do you think kids are so afraid to speak up when it happens within the family?Nancy V Brown:
Well, that’s a great question, um, that the reason why children are afraid is because you know, children, their children, when they’re vulnerable. They’re new, and they’re learning light, right? They’re so new, and they’re just they don’t know, by pronoun. They learn everything from their first caretakers. Yeah. So if the first caretaker is hurting them, or abusing them, they’re going to believe in their minds, that that abuse is okay. And that is normal, you start to normalize it, because, you know, so you know, you’re vulnerable. And that’s what you learned. It’s like, if I always say this, if I teach you that a tree is called a spoon, you’re going to call the spoon a tree? Yes. So you know, you learn what you learn. And that’s what you’re going to put out. So a lot of these children who have been through sexual abuse, they repeat the abuse, they repeat the abuse on others or on their own children. The abuse starts as early as newborns, okay, when somebody is dealing with a mental illness in the area of they are abusers who are predators, a lot of times they go after the babies, because the mothers would never expect the father to do something like that. And the babies will not remember. So some people are caught, okay. And that’s how this how this information comes out. But when it comes to a child, now, that’s a little older, the trust that you have for that adult, because that’s your first caretaker, the person that feeds you, and the person that close to the person that takes you to the doctor’s or whatever needs you have, you have to go through that person. So how do you tell on that person? Or if is a sibling, you know, how do you tell on the sibling without getting them in trouble or without everybody coming down hard on you for telling, right. And so it’s very difficult, because sometimes when you tell you’re not believed, and other times when you tell, people will take sides, and it will not be your side, they’ll take the other favorite sibling side, who would never do anything like that. And then you’ll be the black sheep who’s just starting trouble and making up stuff. And so all those things keep people from felon, it makes people feel unsafe to tell. And it doesn’t create an environment where it’s opening, that safe space for you to share and for you to get the help that’s needed. That’s that’s definitely one of the reasons why kids don’t tell you know, and then another reason is, if is your family member, you’d love them. I mean, this is such a weird, technical type of situation to explain. And if you’ve never been through it, it’s very hard to understand. And there’s nothing wrong if you don’t understand but if you have been through it, you might be able to relate that you love your abuser and you don’t want to hurt your abuser. You don’t want to see I’m sorry. Let me say this. You don’t want to see your loved one going to jail. You don’t want to hurt your loved one. Your job is to protect your loved one. And you know and to correct them behind closed doors and address the problem at hand behind closed doors as a family. We as a family have to talk and we have to create gateways where people children are are able to feel safe to tell on their abuser, this happened, it did not make me feel safe. And so that we can learn to work on the problems and not so much be quick to send people to jail. But really work on the problem because the fact that people don’t think about jail first, we’re not addressing the problem. And we have to figure out how to address the problem. I’m talking about, like, as dealing with our children coming to us out crying, I’m talking about things like that. How do we help them feel safe to tell? That’s the main thing because in their minds, you know, I was told, don’t tell the secret. It’s our secret. And I was like, I don’t want him to get in trouble. You know, but we have to figure out really just again, the ways to create that environment for the child to feel safe to outcry.Anna Maydonova:
And then say, I have goosebumps, to be honest, because I can recognize myself in what you’re saying. And I don’t want to put you on the spot right now. But I want to ask you this very important question. What was stopping you from revealing for was your abuser?Nancy V Brown:
Right? That’s a great question. Shame was definitely one of them. embarrassment, shame was definitely one of them. I’m still loving my abuser, still loving and respecting my abuser. And, you know, I didn’t want to see him go to jail. I really, I that wasn’t I wanted to see him get help. I wanted him to be like, placed in a program, I wanted to have control of that. And I didn’t have control of that. He had also been abused. And, you know, I believe it was by his father, who also abused someone else. And he went to prison, he went to jail for it. And so I didn’t, I know that it was associated with sending someone to jail, and I did not want any parts. And having really done that my focus was really to help you get the healing that you need. And that really was my focus at the time. Because that, you know, that’s somebody that really longAnna Maydonova:
was, why do you think it’s important to speak upNancy V Brown:
is important to speak up, because we’re in a national crisis, people are passing away. I wear suicide every single day. I’m doing a lot of advocacy in the area of mental health in the community. And I mean, it’s children, you know, they’re taking their lives with guns and is just really, really going really, really, really high really, really fast. Like, it’s starting to become numb is starting to become a desensitized conversation. Almost. It’s very scary. It’s very scary. Is something being released, and it’s very scary. Yeah. Is we need to talk about it. Like it’s emergency 911 Yesterday. That’s where we areAnna Maydonova:
90. And I know, you’ve shared with me what’s happened in your family. And if you would open up earlier, you will probably save a life, someone who you really love and tear. Yeah, I want to I want people to know why it’s so important. And what was the story behind your doors?Nancy V Brown:
Well, the, you know, the reason why, and you’re asking, Why did I begin to share? Yes. You know, I went through this, and again, I put it behind me, and that just focused on becoming a better me. And I just didn’t know I tried to build myself to be the best version of me. And even though I would be fighting other stuff in between, and then I just was like, okay, you know, I really, I love what I’m doing and I love where I am as far as an artist, but I knew that I was still dealing with the pain. I was still dealing with the pain. And and I’ve fallen down I you know when when I wrote my book, I was fighting with the spirit of suicide. And, and you know, I had just went through a divorce. It was a really bad divorce. I lost everything in my divorce and I was very upset. And I was by dealing with mental illness, I was fighting depression, I was fighting in society. I was really bad. And I felt very alone. And the spirit of suicide, tried to show up again in my life. And it was really, really bad. Actually, I could, you know, there would be time said, you know, when I went down, I was thinking that for months, you know, I was functional, I would still go do community stuff, or do whatever, but I would just come back home and get in the bank. And, you know, I just understood that level. So I remember I was fighting with that spirit. And, and I was like, scrolling on social media or something, I saw this story about this little girl, I cannot think of this girl’s name. And she had hung herself in on a tree. Because she had been sexually abused. She was a Caucasian little girl. So it’s not like I saw a picture of a little girl that looked like me, it was a little girl who could have been me, because she was in that age group of when I had my first suicide attempt. And so when I saw that picture, that little girl in the story in like, shot me, in my heart. It just shot me. And I remember I just was, you know, I was crying. I was just, I felt bad. You know, really, it really resonated with me and guy was like, that was like, How dare you survive and not help somebody else to buy. And I remember, you know, I was just crying. And then I heard Holy Spirit, say, you have to be brave, you know, and you have to stand up. And I was like, I’m not standing out standing up. I’m not ready to talk about this. I was working on the hair loss book, which I didn’t even finish. But I was working, like I hear on a book on hair loss and all that type of stuff. I’ll call her back later, I was working on that type of stuff. And I was taking, like, these medical classes for hair loss, which I’m still dealing with y’all pray for me, pray for me. And I’m still struggling with that, please help me off. But um, no, seriously. And, you know, I was doing these classes that I was under, you know, I was like, let me start writing about it. Because I’m so stuck in it. Let me just share the information. You know, it could be a health of wealth for somebody. So a wealth health for someone. So I was doing that. And then guy was like, that’s not going to be the first book you share. That’s not gonna be the first story you share. And he said, I heard Holy Spirit say, you have to be brave, and you have to stand up. So I wrote that down on a sticky pad because I was writing my, my, my book. And I had a lot of sticky mess. I wrote it there. You have to be brave enough to stand up. And I said, Well, you know, we’ll walk past it. You know, I was running around, I was being a single parent, I was going through so much pressure. I was going to finance. I mean, I was under pressure. And I’m seeing, you know, people were passing away by way of suicide. And I was like, feeling the pressure at that moment. I was running back and forth. And I was just like,Nancy V Brown:
I mean, I understood what people were going through, when they got to that place where they were ready to jump off the plane. Yeah. And it was one day I walked past this, the sticky pad and I just remember saying, brave girls stand up. That’s not really, that’s not hitting. I heard Holy Spirit, say, the brave girls are not just going to stand up, they’re gonna rise up. You’re in the city of repricer. You’re in the city of rise up. And I remember I wrote it down. I wrote rape girls rise up. That was a moment where I really understood the assignment. And I really started to understand the purpose that God had for me for having been through what I’ve been through for the people that I was here to serve. And it was bigger than me there was the by myself but when I was working on me, I was trying to save myself. So even though my might seem like I was so strong, I was fighting for my for my mental health, was fighting for my life. And it just so happened to be that I was pouring in myself while I was doing it. The further I was running away from the old me, the closer the past I was running to the new me. I remember I wrote down Have Brave Girls, you know, write stuff. And I say, you know, God, I don’t have the finances or the resources to do this. But it didn’t matter because it was like, you could just do it. So at that time, you know, I started connecting with different people, different women in the community, I said, you know, it was like we are, everybody has their own ministry, everybody in this world has a ministry, everybody has a purpose. Everybody has a calling, everybody, everybody, everybody doesn’t matter who you are, every bad. I just, again, I just want to make sure that I help people, the best that I can, while I’m on this earth, that I’m used to help people heal, and that I’m used as a healing agent. And God still healing me, because this is definitely a process. This is not for the faint of heart. People see us up here talking. A lot of times, people will take it for granted, because they don’t understand the level of strength and the mental capacity that you have to have. Because, you know, You’re reliving these experiences when you talk about it. And the way I like to say it is, it feels like you’re running into a burning building, to save people, and then coming back out, and run them back in, and then coming back out, and then run them back in. And after a while, a lot of times that does have that does happen. It could it does not I’m not gonna say that. It could have an effect on you. And you have to be able to recognize those triggers, you have to be able to recognize the things or the words that don’t work for you don’t serve you. If someone makes you feel rejected or disliked, then that’s, that’s okay. You know, try not to let the hatred harvest in your heart. But learn to move on and just find your tribe and just pray about it. That God will send you the right people, the right tribe, and the right connections that will help you in your healing journey so that you can be the light that you were meant to be in this world because your light is going to bless it’s going to help somebody who is in their darkest moments to live.Anna Maydonova:
Amen, sister, amen. Sister. You know, men see, through my own healing journey, I’ve realized something very real. Something very important. I’ve realized that people leave their lives not as it is. People leave their lives as they are. It’s most important who you want to become. And if you want to become a LIGHT, shining light for someone, the opportunities, right people money, right place, right time, everything start coming out and coming up to you. And that’s what happened with your book. And before I ask you this question, I want to share something with you. We were staying in Arizona, in Cave Creek. And I was sitting outside on the backyard, having a meeting Zoom meeting. And then a hummingbird came close to me and started to fly bright. Like in front of my face, maybe 10 centimeter 10 centimeters. I don’t know how many interested it is. But very close right next to me. And she stayed like here for 30 seconds and the person on the on the call. So it and I was just wondering, what does this mean to you? When hummingbird is coming close toNancy V Brown:
you? That’s just joy, God sending you joy. He’s letting you know he’s showing you the beauty I mean, that hummingbird to come up to your face in your eyes, something so magical, that you know you don’t have access to this like Grace. You know, what I’m saying is like, how did I get access to this? How do I get access to come so close as a foreigner it’s like, you wish you could take a picture and you know you can’t even move so nobody’s gonna believe you. I mean, you wish you could just snap a picture immediately. Because it’s so beautiful, but you just try to remember as much as you can, and hold that memory and that’s how it is with our loved ones. You know was just that spirit that love that joy that we hold in our hearts and a memory that was beautiful that’s what that was the hummingbird the bird the Spirit the Holy Spirit was you know touching you and giving you cases reminding you that you’re so beautiful and yeah his favorite and that he loves you the world your whatever it is that you believe in but that beautiful feeling of peace and love and joy was just reminding you that you deserve it. All of it.Anna Maydonova:
Amazing. Wow. I didn’t know this. She did it twice. To thisNancy V Brown:
double for your trouble, girl. I know.Anna Maydonova:
I know. Right? Wow. Lindsey? way where is your book? Books name? My Costa Rican hummingbird sings is coming from?Nancy V Brown:
Yes. So I don’t even know where it came from at the moment. But um, you know, God had just put it in my spirit. My, my Costa Rican. First I had my hummingbird things. Um, okay, I had a hummingbird experience. Um, when I was a little girl, I originally I grew up in Costa Rica. When I was a little girl. My mom was a maid. And we lived, you know, there was the big house for that for the owner. And then there was the little house where we live. And you know, at the bottom of the hill, there was coffee. Sometimes we would go down the hill and pick coffee with our baskets and all of that. At this point, the doors were open and a hummingbird came in the house. And the hummingbird was trying to get out even though we had windows all over the house. And the hummingbird kept hitting his or her its body. I don’t know what it was that I remember, was hitting its body against the window pings. The walls, the cabinets, just trying to get out trying to get out of it was just hitting itself and they got exhausted and fell. And my mom picked it up very carefully. And she started Baby Talking To wit. And she turned the water faucet on. And I was so excited. Like, I was so excited. I was so nervous. I couldn’t believe that I was seeing the hummingbird laying down, never seen the hummingbird laying down, you know, but it was in my mom’s hand. And she took it out into the faucet. And she turned on the water. And then began to like, drink and like breathe better. And just like calm down. And they rested a little bit. And then you know, we kept it just a little bit. And then we released it outside. And it was just so beautiful. I mean, that image is so beautiful. I can’t even describe it, you know. And so when I was reading my book, I was like, Oh, my Costa Rican hummingbird things. I don’t know where it came from, because I can’t sing. So I guess Holy Spirit gave it to me because my Costa Rica hummingbird Spirit inside of me probably had to just sing, to speak, to share, to rejoice talk about what helped me to heal the process of my fight. You know how God was able to help me to survive my personal spiritual war fears that I’ve been fighting that I’ve had to that was my experience with the hummingbird. And that I remember that that’s a lot of what had inspired the book, the name of the book, but then the name of the book is my Costa Rican hummingbird sings breaking the bondage and answering the call. Now when I wrote my book, I was not ready to break bondages and answer calls. But God put me in the position where I was kind of forced to talk about stuff that I would that I didn’t want to speak about. And and I was still fighting bondage. I was still fighting bondage. I was, you know, still fighting addictions. I was still fighting things, you know. And so I didn’t understand why God would come to me to break a bond as an answer call and I didn’t know. Um, you know, barely could sometimes, sometimes if my nerves are really bad, I can’t even speak. And so I was like, why would he do this to me? Why would he Why would you do this to me, in the middle of Magpie, like I’m hiring, you know, trying to keep these kids in school, being a single parent going through financial difficulties, because I didn’t have supportAnna Maydonova:
and why do you think, why did you did you figure this out later? What, why God was pushing you to break the bond.Nancy V Brown:
Well, God was pushing me to break the bond is because he was trying to break the bondage in me. Trying to break the bondage is the To me so that I can help other people break the bondage is that they’re going, I believe that, or what I’m learning is that you really can’t help people unless you have really, I mean, you’re limited on how much you can help someone. It’s not that you can’t, because I really learned to respect people who are in the area of helping people survive, things that they’ve never been through, I feel like they are, you know, a lot of us have mother’s spirits. And so, you know, we’re, we’re adults, it takes a village, we’re all the mothers, right? We’re all the mothers, we are all the mothers were community, right. But I feel that, you know, really be able to share and help others. So it’s very important. Men say, howAnna Maydonova:
do you help people right now? I know that you’re healing and transformational Coach, what resources do you use to help others?Nancy V Brown:
Yes. So I am actually a, a trained peer support specialist with Nami, Georgia, I’ve been doing like a lot of, you know, talking to people who are, who are currently dealing with mental health conditions. And, and really sharing my story with them, you know, share my story with them, and letting them know that they’re not alone, letting them know that there are people who are walking through the journey and still walk through the journey. And again, just reminding them that they’re not alone, you know, because that’s, that’s one of the biggest reasons people end up passing away by way of suicide because of this stigma. And because they feel very alone.Anna Maydonova:
94 people who would love to reach out to you, where can they find you?Nancy V Brown:
So I’m on social media. All my social media pages are Nancy B. Brown, at Facebook, Instagram, Brave Girls rise up, that’s the page for my youth advocacy stuff that I do. Nancy v. Brown ministries, you know, I didn’t know what God was doing with that page. And I’m still open to whatever he’s doing with that page. But that’s just a page where I share scriptures and, you know, funny stuff, uplift and keep people just their hope. Right. And then I have the Nesby, brown speaks, where I kind of just invite open to topics and just talk about like stuff that really impacts us as a community, and let people share their, their own perspective. And that’s also why I have another page called My hummingbird things, which is the podcast that I’m currently working on. That’s just a podcast from opening up the platform to help people share their testimonies, focus on healing, encourage themselves, encourage other people share poems share, you know, just different things are just is growing. And you know, the idea and the plans for it. So the main thing right now is sharing hope.