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Choosing Forgiveness, Finding Freedom – EP. 110

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Bernita Bradley is a powerhouse! In this episode, she shares the surprising event that led her from being a bullied and suicidal teenager to the inspiring leader she is today. We learn how she harnessed the power of forgiveness to change her life and the lives of people in her community.

LOVE • FORGIVING • PURPOSE

Bernita Bradley

Top Takeaways From This Episode:

  • Forgiveness is freedom! Forgiveness is about the release of our own pain and the decision to no longer let it control us.
  • By exposing our “ripped and tattered capes” and sharing our stories of survival, we can empower others to know they have the strength to overcome obstacles too.
  • When you Brave the journey, you can always find the answers within yourself.
  • Live outside of the box! Live without restrictions and don’t allow others to limit you. Be ok with who you are, be original, and be free.
  • Access is the most powerful thing. When you gain access, extend it to others because access changes lives!

Show Notes:

Bernita Bradley is, in a word, a powerhouse!

Bernita, the host of Alley Girl Conversations is also the founder of The Village PCL, an author, an activist, a community leader. She's an undeniable inspiration to countless women and members of the Detroit community. Known widely in her community as a supermom, she's also an inspiring public advocate. Yet, very few knew the disturbing story of her remarkable journey. 

In this episode, Bernita shares the surprising event that led her from being a bullied and suicidal teenager to the “powerhouse of a human being” she is today.

Harboring a secret and discovering a gift

It is an understatement to say that Bernita’s childhood was an unhappy one. Despite the blessing of having a mother who would “… kill a bear with her bare hands over her children,” Bernita harbored a secret that she kept from everyone – especially her mother. Her brother and their babysitter were molesting her. For Bernita, it seemed she was always navigating an increasingly hostile environment. Even her educational environment as filled with constant bullying. She was physically assaulted at school by classmates and peers. The trauma grew so intense and the burden so heavy that she became severely depressed. This was so tragic for her that by age 14, her biggest goal for an entire year was to die.

After a failed suicide attempt on her 15th birthday, Bernita’s mother, desperate to save her child, sought help for her troubled daughter. Bernita was sent to a “home for girls. Believe it or not, it was there, in the psychiatric ward, that she found the beginnings of her gift for leadership. She reluctantly became a beacon of hope and a source of comfort to fellow students in the institution. 

Bernita powered through her young adulthood. She began building a name and a significant set of accomplishments in the community. The few people who knew her story encouraged her throughout her 20s to write a book and share her experience. But the reality of writing a book didn’t become a serious consideration until a surprising event set things in motion and changed the trajectory of her life.

Harnessing the power of forgiveness

Suddenly, Bernita reached a turning point while attending a conference for work. Here she found herself, unexpectedly, face-to-face with the man who sexually abused her as a child. Seeing this monster in person allowed her to realize that even after all of the work she had done over the years — the public speaking, the advocacy, the work with youth and her many, many successes — the reality was that her past and her abuser still controlled her. 

Suddenly she made a decision that changed the course of her life. Right there, on the spot, she confronted her abuser (brave much!?) and then forgave him. In that moment Bernita learned to harness the power of forgiveness. Choosing forgiveness gave her the strength and freedom to tell her story. First, she told her her mother, and then to the world.

“Ripped capes” & leveraging fear into bravery

After confronting her abuser, Bernita finally gave herself the freedom and permission she needed to write a book and share her story. She realized that her life story was the very thing needed to give her work real resonance. People in her community saw her as a super mom, a hero, and an inspiring public figure. But she knew that sharing her story and revealing that the (superhero) cape she wore was actually “tattered” — by her own deep flaws that others don’t see, by pain and scars from betrayal, rape, and abuse  — it gave others the freedom to tell their stories, providing true empowerment and enabling others to leverage their fear into bravery (which is the core of what The Brave Files Podcast and Heather Vickery’s Success Coaching Program is all about).

Bernita stresses the importance of letting “people see the rips in our capes” and “see the flaws in me.” Doing so helps others get empowered to overcome obstacles. She lives by example and uses her story of surviving trauma, determination, and resilience to lead a community of people to empower themselves and live authentic, brave, and fulfilling lives.

Bernita Bradley is a powerhouse! In this episode, she shares the surprising event that led her from being a bullied and suicidal teenager to the inspiring leader she is today. We learn how she harnessed the power of forgiveness to change her life and the lives of people in her community.

We urge you to connect with Bernita!

Learn more about Bernita on her website and her blog

Read Bernita’s amazing book, The Girl in the Ally: Not a Story of Faith but about The Others

Contact Bernita directly and engage in ALLEY GIRL CONVERSATIONS

She invites you to connect with her via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Giving is Good:

Bernita’s favorite charitable organization is Detroit Public TV (DPTV). She works as a CAP (Community Advisory Panel) Chair for DPTV by bringing a community voice to public television. DPTV is the viewer-supported PBS  member station serving Southeast Michigan. They provide open access to trusted, balanced, and inspiring content. And their goal is to help members of the community discover new ideas, make informed decisions, and enjoy enriched lives. They are doing a lot of great work in Michigan, so please show them some love!

Bernita Bradley is a powerhouse! In this episode, she shares the surprising event that led her from being a bullied and suicidal teenager to the inspiring leader she is today. We learn how she harnessed the power of forgiveness to change her life and the lives of people in her community.
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About Your Host:
Heather Vickery
Heather Vickery
Heather Vickery is an award-winning business owner and global leader with over 20 years as an entrepreneur. She leverages her entrepreneurial skills and expertise to coach individuals towards greater personal and professional fulfillment by helping them leverage their fear into intentional bravery. Heather says “When we choose bravely, on purpose, we choose bigger, have bigger successes and it’s contagious” A celebrated public speaker, Heather inspires audiences and empowers attendees with the tools they need to live bold and successful lives through creating balance, time management, mindfulness, as well as countless systems, strategies, and boundaries. She’s the author of Gratitude Journal: Shift Your Focus and Grow Grateful: A Gratitude Journal for Kids and Families. Heather is also the host and executive producer of The Brave Files Podcast.
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