Today's post is part "Person of the Week" and part "Leave Your Mark." I asked Becki Brannen to be a guest after reading her latest release, Stronger. It was a quick, engaging read that felt surprisingly light despite the dark topics it tackles head on. Becki and I have known each other via social media for a few years now. After finally sitting down to read one of her books, I was kicking myself for taking so long to do so. I was also even more impressed with her than I had been before. (And she was already one of my favorite online friends. The woman embodies sunshine.) Read her blog post, you'll see what I mean. She's such a cool person, and I'm lucky to call her friend. ~Heather
Stronger is, in part, my story, but in an entirely fictional way. That probably makes no sense, but it’s true. When I was a sophomore in college, I was sexually assaulted by a friend of mine. I was newly engaged and a virgin. Stronger is my fight back, albeit several years too late.
I wrote Hayley’s character to be someone you see every day in your life, someone who felt like the quiet girl you meet in the library, the woman who walks the hallways at work, never looking up, the girl you’d never guess is terrified of the world around her. You see, that was me, the timid girl who never made eye contact, long before I was ever assaulted. When it happened, I stood up for myself. I made eye contact; I confronted my attacker; I told the powers that be what happened. I took ownership of my life, determined not to be a victim, but a survivor. Hayley needed the same metamorphosis. She needed to be a survivor. After she is assaulted by her boyfriend, the man who degraded her, beat her and sexually assaulted her, she needed to fight back.
Most of my research for my books has occurred online. For Stronger, I reached out to a friend from high school. Rather than give me the education I requested, he instead told me I had to show up at the gym he’s a trainer at and learn to fight for myself. Wes’ character is not based on this friend, and the beginning of my story was written long before I reached out to him (despite the rumors at the gym, ha). I needed a character who believed in Hayley, and found her desirable without being a victim. Wes loved Hayley because she’s strong and his empowerment of her shows how a real man treats a woman.
At the gym, I threw myself into training headfirst, not looking back. I went to kickboxing classes two days a week, dragging myself home each time with cramps and aches – and a desire to return. I felt stronger, more powerful, and in control of my life. I had the edge that Hayley needed, something that Google could never provide. I had experience.
As I wrote Stronger, I realized Hayley needed support, not just from Wes and the others at the gym, but from a safe house. I realize how important these places are as they provide shelter, support, even basic toiletries to women in Hayley’s position – or worse. They help women reclaim their lives, something I know to be so important after a traumatic event or relationship.
Because of this, I decided to give 25% of all profits from the sale of Stronger to The Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia. It was important to me, after writing Stronger, to give back to the Crisis Line so that they can help women in the real world whose stories are like mine or Hayley’s. To date, I’ve given over $30.00 in royalties to the Crisis Line. It’s not much but I hope that it provides one woman in need with a few basic necessities as she reclaims her life. I hope that with something as simple as a toothbrush donated with love, she will feel STRONGER.
For more information about The Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia, please visit www.cl-sh.org.
For more information about Stronger, and other books I’ve written, please visit my website. Twenty-five percent of all profits are donated to The Crisis Line to help women feel less like victims and allow them to realize their inner strength.
About the author:
Becki Brannen was born and raised in the South. She married her high school sweetheart and they have two daughters and a poodle, Sophie. Becki enjoys writing 'chick lit' with a Christian twist.
Connect with Becki online:
Twitter | @BeckiBrannen
Facebook | beckibrannen.author
Website | beckibrannen.weebly.com
I met Mary Graziano Scro when she reached out to me on my Facebook author page to share an article she'd read. After discovering we shared a passion to end human trafficking, I invited her to be a guest on the blog. She's a great example of a person who saw a problem and jumped right in to fix it. I'm delighted that she took the time to share with us today! Welcome to my blog, Mary, and thank you for your kinds words about Devil in Disguise! ~Heather
We wanted to do something, not just read about it. That’s why we became involved with JMM because they are active both in this country and around the world. In addition to Hand of Hope, they have inner city ministries to meet people where they are and give them a hand up out of their situation. They work in prisons, conduct medical mission trips, and operate feeding programs and children’s homes. Much of the work they are doing helps keep children safe and off the streets so that they don’t end up as human trafficking victims. JMM also partners with many other ministries because they recognize that when we join forces, we can accomplish more than we can on our own.
Over the ten years we’ve volunteered at JMM, we’ve heard amazing testimonies from people around the world who have been rescued, fed, healed, and saved. The numbers helped continue to grow as people at her conferences are made aware of the needs and become partners with the ministry.
Even so, the ongoing need is overwhelming.
I challenge you to read about JMM and some of the other organizations Heather mentions on her website, then take action. Through supporting front line ministries whose missions are to “go” and “do”, everyone can get involved – no excuses. Together we CAN make a difference!
Thank you, Heather, for the opportunity to share!
About the author:
Mary Graziano Scro, a graduate of Christian Communicators Conference, is an inspirational and entertaining writer and speaker who intuitively weaves analogies and personal testimony with practical biblical teaching.
Mary’s mission is to encourage others about the awesome life God has planned for us, IF we are willing to choose wisely in our everyday lives (John 8:31-32). And it’s not about us – the more we invest in our own unique relationship with Jesus, the more visible He is to a world that desperately needs Him. Her first book, Intentional Fitness: Working Out Your Salvation so Others Can See Jesus, is available on Amazon.com. She has a few other projects in the works, and regularly shares encouraging messages on her blog, lifeisnotaformula.blogspot.com.
Blake: Ow. Don't kick my foot.
Chris: I didn't.
Blake: Then why does my foot hurt?
Chris: Pain is in your mind.
Blake: And in my foot.
Dylan (in mock anger): You shut your face
Blake (coolly): You shut your toes.
Dylan: Touché my friend.
Chris: Blake, you know the Flash isn’t real, right?
Blake: Tom Hanks isn’t real
Blake: Forrest Gump is real. It’s Tom Hanks who isn’t real.
Dylan: My whole life has been a lie.
Blake: Mom has pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella in the cart. Do you know what that means?
Dylan: It’s taco night?
Me: Actually, it is.
Blake: Does anybody want to watch Lewis and Clark?
Dylan: Don’t you mean Lois and Clark?
Chris: If it was Lewis and Clark, it would be awkward.
Dylan: Weren’t Lewis and Clark the explorers? Maybe it’s a movie about friendship.
Blake: Well, we could watch Lion King 2, Sinbad’s Pride.
Dylan: Don’t you mean Simba’s Pride?
Blake: I’m not allowed to beat you up in front of mom.
Me: In front of mom, huh?
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.