Nicole Marchman: Bringing Light out of the Darkness
By Pamela Settle
Since the beginning of time, man has fought the battle between good and evil. It’s a constant throughout history, a subject of religion and ethics and the basis for literature and art. Because it is an internal battle as well as an external battle, and part of the human/spiritual connection, we will always have good vs. evil in our lives. As much as we want to focus only on the good, we cannot fully appreciate the good unless we see the other side.
Some of us more see more evil than others. Nicole Marchman has seen more than her fair share. Her childhood story will make you cringe, or perhaps cry. However that is not the part of the story she wants you to remember. She wants you to see in her the real promise of hope and healing that is possible for everyone, no matter the depth of the pain, no matter the evil that has crossed your path, no matter how lonely, ashamed or desperate you are.
Nicole grew up in the Greenwood neighborhood of Clearwater. She knows the physical beatings started when she was a baby and by age 4 was molested by her father every day for the next seven years. Her mother was beaten severely, too, and Nicole nursed her mother’s injuries instead of the other way around. What little food they had in the house went to her dad first, leaving nothing behind for anyone else. “I learned how to steal food so we wouldn’t starve,” she says quietly.
Her father was an angry man, a product of an abusive home where dad beat mom and then mom beat dad. Nicole says she learned later on about his past and his resentment toward women; along with a deep desire to force women into submission. Nicole’s mother came from an abusive home as well. But that’s where the history lesson about abuse stopped, because her grandparents refused to talk about it, because that’s how it is for the older generations. She says this knowledge, however limited, was important to her eventual healing.
At age 11, Nicole started her journey through 16 foster homes and three group homes. Her parents lost parental rights when she was 16. The counseling she received in the system was “just okay” she said. “It’s forced counseling, more about what my parents did to me and not about how I was surviving. And if you don’t have an open mind for the counseling, it won’t work.”
Despite her rocky childhood, Nicole’s strength of spirit got her into college to pursue a degree in social work. She was newly married and it was during some of her classes that she realized that she had entered into an abusive relationship. “At first it was psychological and emotional abuse. My new knowledge empowered me so I stood up for myself and that’s when the physical abuse started.”
There were thoughts of murder and suicide. The desperate scenes of domestic violence were repeated again and again. He held a gun to her head. He broke her eardrum with a punch. “I looked at him and I could see my dad. I looked at myself and remembered that I said I would never be like my mother. Then one day I had a gun and I wondered if he would even miss me. I cried out to God asking Him to pull me out. I told Him that I would use my pain to help others if He would get me out.”
Four months later Nicole was nominated to travel to Washington DC to work on a project regarding foster children who age out of the system. “I was supposed to be there for six weeks and stayed for ten months.” It was here that Nicole could finally see herself through the eyes of strangers, as a capable, independent person who didn’t live with violence. She went into counseling and also got a divorce. She was accepted into an MSW program and studied European foster care in Czechoslovakia and then did her field studies in Trinidad/Tobago.
During this time two pivotal events changed her course. She traveled home to say good-bye to her mother who died at the age of 49 from a worn and beaten body. Before she passed, she told Nicole about her own childhood and she asked for forgiveness. Nicole says this time with her mother allowed her to cross over to real healing. She realized that she couldn’t bury the pain with her; that the pain had to be dealt with before she could move on. This journey to move past her pain resulted in her starting a book that would not only help her heal, but would be the launching point of a life dedicated to helping others overcome their pain.
Studying to be a social worker gave Nicole insight and knowledge that most abuse survivors don’t get. She combined her professional training with her undying faith to keep her promise to God. The memoir called, Unbreakable Spirit Arises: From Broken Girl to Resilient Woman was released in 2013. In addition to the book telling her personal story, it is meant to be a platform for others to use on their healing journey. She discusses trauma, the path to forgiveness, and what it means to mask the pain. The book is meant for adults who have been or are in the middle of an abusive relationship of any kind. It’s also informative for social workers, teachers or foster parents who care for children who have been abused.
Completing this book moved her quickly from broken victim to victorious advocate.
She started a new ministry called the None Lost Movement by working with a 501(c)(3) called the Underground Network. The Underground Network serves an umbrella organization to launch new ministries by providing an administrative home along with professional assistance with training, budgeting and business planning for two years until the organization can operate independently. Nicole says this organization, based out of Tampa, has 120 micro churches working in their global network in the areas of human trafficking and working with at risk kids, among many others. Hers is the first domestic violence ministry in the network.
The mission of the None Lost Movement is to provide ongoing outreach to the community. The strategy is to consistently toss the net wide into the community through speaking engagements, classes, community events and her radio show, heard twice a month on WTIS AM 1110. Through the outreach, she will invite others to attend her conferences.
The None Lost Movement is hosting a more intimate and in-depth conference every three months to lift up and inspire change for abusers and victims of domestic violence. The first conference called Speak Up and Speak Out: Break the Silence of Domestic Violence is October 25 at the Old Landmark Cathedral in St. Petersburg from 10 am to 3 pm. It is open to anyone who wants to learn about domestic abuse, including social workers, teachers, foster parents, friends, abusers and victims. If you miss this workshop, there will be one every three months. Follow None Lost Movement Ministry on Facebook to learn about the workshop schedule.
From the community outreach and quarterly conferences, Nicole’s next step is private, individual counseling for those who want to get in deep to overcome their personal pain.
“Pain is like a garden. If the soil is dry, you’re not ready to let your flowers grow. You’ll continue to suffer. Fixing the surface isn’t enough, you have to dig in and heal all the way down. It’s something you can’t do alone, you need help.”
Outside of Nicole’s ministry, she is contracted with the Department of Juvenile Justice to teach a monthly class to juvenile batterers. Nicole also partners with T.O.R.C.H. (Taking Opportunities to Reach Compelling Heights), an organization that works with women released from prison and young people aging out of the foster care system who find themselves homeless and vulnerable to all sorts of troubles like drugs and human trafficking. Learn more about their efforts at TorchIgnited.org.
If you’d like to know more about Nicole and the None Lost Movement, visit her website at NicoleMarchman.com. Here you can contact her about scheduling one of her many seminars for your youth group, church group or event. Her book is also available at the website for purchase or the Kindle version at Amazon.com.
The first time I met Nicole, her eyes were shining. She stood tall and spoke articulately about her ministry and social work career. Like many of the leaders I meet in the community, I was impressed by her sincerity and devotion. Then I heard her tell the rest of the story and was completely torn apart by it. First, I ached for the battered child and then I rejoiced for the woman who is the epitome of resiliency. She came from the darkest of dark places, alone and beaten down for 27 years. You would never know that by looking at her. She attributes her light today to an inner light that never went out, never abandoned her and is still with her guiding her steps.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. However domestic violence is occurring in our community 12 months a year, 365 days in a row, and is often invisible. Nicole and others like her need you to take up this cause. Volunteer and fundraising opportunities are throughout our community at shelters, ministries, foster care organizations and more. Please get involved and share your light to end the darkness!
This story first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of GoodLiving Magazine.
Editor’s Note: January 18, 2017. Nicole Marchman passed away from a fast-moving cancer at the age of 35, leaving behind three foster sons who were preparing to be adopted by Nicole. She also leaves behind a large group of friends and family who will miss her dearly. She made a difference in this life. Rest in Peace, Nicole. And thank you for all the GOOD you brought to others.
Written by Pamela Settle. All Rights Reserved.