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Truth Be Told Keeps Former Prisoners on Track

Truth Be Told graduate Debra Broussard is going into her 10th year of freedom clean and sober.

Debra and her sister, Becky.

Debra and her sister, Becky.

Since being released from prison, Debra has been a great supporter of Truth Be Told, attending every event and serving as a guest speaker for the Beyond Bars Goes Behind Bars program. This program was designed so that formerly incarcerated TBT Graduates can go back into prison to share their experience, strength and hope. The women currently enrolled in Truth Be Told classes often ask Debra what is the worst thing she has had to face since getting out of prison. Unfortunately, Debra’s answer is having to mourn the loss of her sister, who was murdered on New Year’s Eve in 2010.

“They couldn’t believe I was still sober after facing the worst,” Debra said of the women at Hilltop prison.

When her sister was murdered, Debra turned to the tools she had learned in Truth Be Told classes at Lockhart prison. She knew she had a support system in place — one full of people she could reach out to and who would help her.

“I’m going to tell you straight up. My sister was my best friend, and the way she was found was very degrading. She didn’t deserve being nude, folded up like a pretzel, and left in a footlocker, which was dumped behind some road construction like a piece of trash. Unless you’ve been through something like this, you can’t imagine what it’s like,” she said.

To help her stay clean and sober during a very dark time, Debra leaned into her TBT community. She participated in Truth Be Told’s “Keep On Talking” Facebook page to stay in community with other released graduates who understand the healing power of respectful listening, truth telling, authenticity and compassion. She also read the Truth Be Told blog because she often benefited from the stories and experiences posted there.

“We are all the same in one way or the other,” Debra said.

When Debra first heard about Truth Be Told, she was serving her last six months in prison. She knew she was interested because she had heard that she would learn to tell her story. She went in with an open heart and an open mind.

Debra said she learned who she was in those classes. She got rid of her junk. She learned not to judge other people. She learned that the organization’s founders, Carol Waid and Nathalie Sorrell, always had her back, that whenever she reached out to either one of them, they were there for her.

“Carol and Nathalie don’t sugarcoat; they let me know the truth. Most people tend to mask things and tell people what they want to hear,” Debra said. “I want to go to someone who is going to be honest with me. They were there for me.

“Addicts are runners and I was a runner,” she continued. “[Truth Be Told] taught me to stop and think before I run, that I am strong enough to stand there and take whatever is given to me.”

According to Debra, it took prison and Truth Be Told to get her to face herself. The program has given her hope. It has allowed her to look at herself for the first time and really see who she is.

“When I first started with Truth Be Told, I didn’t want other people to know what I had done,” Debra said. “I decided that I would just tell bits and pieces of my story. Nathalie let it slide for a couple of meetings, but then she confronted me. She said: ‘Debra, you know there’s more to this than you’re telling me. You need to put it all out there — the whole truth.’

Debra sharing her story at a Truth Be Told fundraiser in 2011.

Debra sharing her story at a Truth Be Told fundraiser in 2011.

“She didn’t allow me to mask things. She was making me see things and admit to things that I didn’t want to remember. But then, she would hug me and laugh and look at me with those eyes,” Debra recalled. “She gave me something I had never had from a woman before — not my mother, not anyone. She gave me the comfort and toughness that I needed.

Being in prison and being involved with Truth Be Told were life-changing experiences. I still use my tools every day — with my children, my husband, friends, family, and in running my own business. I am grateful for the journey I took and the path I followed.”

If you are a Truth Be Told graduate and interested in the Keep on Talking Facebook group, please send us an email.
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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

6 responses »

  1. Debra, you were a gift in that class. Though you were very human, and who of us isn’t resistant to telling the hardest stuff we’ve been hiding from for years? You had a core of honesty and a hard core desire to get something of value in exchange for your commitment of time. I see that same thing in you ever since you got out. You come to each TBT event, or most recently – you came from way south Texas to Austin to Bryan, HOURS on the road, so that you could share for 10 minutes at the Bryan Federal prison. You gave your truth, your time, your effort so that potentially, our program could benefit a lot more women who are locked up in more ways than legally imprisoned.
    Your free spirit is beautiful, and we count on that to come through, even when there is a great deal of effort involved. I totally trust you. You are a Truth be Told Graduate who doesn’t stop learning and growing. My prayers are for your life to grow ever richer and saner and your family and friends and co-workers AND our audiences to be blessed by your growing wisdom for the rest of your life.

    Nathalie

    Reply
  2. Debra, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. I lost my sister too, to a murderer who left her in a similar degrading way, decades ago. I know the deep, deep sorrow of that. Kudos for making it through sober. Yes, it can be done. She must have had a great sense of humor judging by her t-shirt! Love it! Big hugs, sister.

    Reply
  3. Debra, your honesty and your perseverance are inspiring. I am very sorry about your loss, and I am so glad you found the strength to make it through.

    Reply
  4. Such a powerful story to hear…to know that one can honestly CHOOSE to do the right thing after such tragedy…Debra THANK YOU for sharing your experience. THANK YOU for proving that the TBT tools really do work….Love you sister!!!

    Reply
  5. How can I find out if Truth Be Told is a program offered at the prison where my son is serving time? What about classes in our community? He is at Wynne Unit in Huntsvilke, Texas and we live in New Braunfels, Texas

    Reply

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