"My trauma has made me into who I am today."
Nishea is a 35-year-old survivor of childhood abuse. She is doing the #momlife with her 14-year-old daughter. She is also a foster mom, opening her home to 13 kids in the last three years. When she's not doing all of those things, Nishea has a ministry where she helps fellow survivors of trauma find inner peace. She offers classes online, along with free tips and tools on her social media pages.
SWY: If you don’t mind sharing - What is your story with childhood/youth trauma and abuse?
NB: I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I had two different abusers. From the age of five until I was eighteen I was sexually abused by my paternal grandfather. My father being raised by that monster was just not the nicest. He was verbally and emotionally abusive in my childhood. He was also financially abusive. So a lot of my childhood was just being in that abuse and trauma, and a lot of my memories of that abuse and trauma were repressed for most of my teen years. When I had my daughter who is now fourteen, I had what is called memory recall and it all came flooding back. I was 21 when all my memories came back. It was at this point that I started my healing process and my warpath to feeling better.
SWY: How have your experiences with trauma and abuse changed your life?
NB: Honestly, I have come to the realization that without all of my trauma I would not be the person that I am today. I would not be in the same position in life where I am now helping people heal and helping families heal in the foster care system. I would not be able to do that if I had not gone through the trauma that I had. I would have never felt called to do this. My trauma has made me into who I am today. It's two-fold because you realize that you are a result of someone else's actions towards you and have to realize that you have to deal with that for the rest of your life. But then at the same time realizing that oh my gosh if I had not gone through the abuse and trauma all of these people would not have had an ounce of help because I would have never been in this situation to help other people had I not gone through it myself.
SWY: What is one piece of advice you would give to a child or youth who is suffering from trauma and abuse?
NB: In the moment, it's very hard to understand that there are people outside of what is in front of you or what your immediate situation may be in that they care about you and value you as a person and want you to be safe. So, remind yourself that there are people that need you to be safe. As a teen, I was very depressed because that was the way I held my trauma. I was very depressed and very suicidal. I didn't know that people needed me later in the future and that my existence has helped other people's existence because I have made others feel seen and heard and loved when they weren't feeling that. When I was not feeling that I didn't know that there were others out there. But there is somebody who can help you, you just have to find them and reach out to people who you trust and feel safe with because they want you to feel safe and so they'll help you. It sucks but keep going until you find somebody to help you. It is really unfortunate that we live in this world where we have to say keep going until somebody believes you, and hears you, and sees you the way that you want to be seen. But there are people out there that want to do that, so just reach out.
SWY: What is one piece of advice you would give to a child or youth who wants to heal but doesn’t know how?
NB: Same thing, reach out! I think it's really hard; you have to have a lot of strength and courage to want to go through healing. You have to recognize that all of this stuff has happened to you and it’s horrible and it's not your fault that it happened to you. You still have to deal with how you react and how that manifests and cultivates in your life. My slogan is mind your trauma because it's really hard to go through all of that and have all these different voices in your head and it feeling so chaotic. You don't know which voice to listen to honestly. The voice that's telling you to find somebody and to reach out and that you're worthy and worthy of a gentle kind of love that is the voice to listen to. I believe that I didn’t go through the abuse in my childhood to keep it to myself. I'm still here for a reason. I have to share that story because there might be others that are in a similar situation currently. You just need to know that you can make it through, and this applies to everyone else that has gone through abuse or is going through abuse currently. There are people on the other end of this that need your life and your story because it'll touch them and change them and make them want to heal so you just have to keep on pushing and take it day by day.
"I believe that I didn’t go through the abuse in my childhood to keep it to myself. I'm still here for a reason. I have to share that story because there might be others that are in a similar situation currently."
SWY: What inspired you to become a foster parent?
NB: It really was my trauma. I was not in foster care, but I think that's widely because of where I lived and the demographics and socioeconomics that come into play. In my childhood, I knew how lonely I felt. I felt so lonely that I didn't want to be here anymore, and I know that loneliness is something that others struggle with, it's not something that I just struggled with. So, I wanted to help kids that are going through the system and to be there to help their family because I'm not there to replace their parents. I'm there to just help them while they're trying to heal and trying to be safe. So, I always put myself in the position of what I would have wanted if somebody were to call child protective services on my family. My role is to find ways that could have made one's childhood and young adult life easier by helping these families that are coming into the system.
SWY: Often times, we hear more about the negative aspects of the foster care system - How would you say your experience with the system has been?
NB: Really it's been all over the place; it's been very very high and very very low. A lot of the families that I have fostered for I still keep in touch with, I see them a lot, I babysit the foster kids that lived with me for so many months. I'll go and get them if Mom will call me saying, “I need a break or hey I'm going to be late at work. I need you to help etc." So that's like a really cool thing I have set up myself to make it that way. The lows are just like everything else. There's a lot of like bias and there's a lot of people who are in the system and run the system who may have had the privilege of never being in the system. Then you have people who are not informed on trauma still also running the system. So, it's both. I love where I am, I love being a part of these families' lives and getting to see these kids and seeing their parents turn around and make these families whole. But on the other side of that coin is also seeing families fail and having to help them in crisis while they're failing. Social workers are so impacted by so many cases and that doesn't help. Kids slipping through the cracks of the social work system is normal and it's scary. So, it's just really just trying to be a part of the parent’s village to make sure that doesn't happen to their children and that there is someone there to help them who is not a part of caseload.
SWY: Can you speak to the intergenerational aspect of trauma and abuse? Why do you think that, for many families, this cycle of abuse goes on for so long? What do you think needs to be done to break it?
NB: I really think that the reason why intergenerational trauma is handed down is really just the lack of education and understanding. That literally kicks off everything because once you understand and you are educated on trauma then you understand how it affects your body and how it affects your genes and how it affects your brain chemistry. So then you can understand that it is handed down through our genes because you have this trauma that has just changed your whole makeup. I think what needs to happen is just more education on trauma which is what I'm trying to do. It is really important to educate people on why people feel and react the way they do because of all the things that have happened to them. It just causes a chain reaction because people don't know how to calm the voices in their heads and then that is acted out on the next generation of their children to feel that hurt and that trauma.