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.
We urge you to connect with Bernita!
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.