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Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
 February 2014


Finding Hope: Bernadett's Story      

Bernadett carefully adjusted the tuning pegs and strummed a few cords until things sounded just right. She glanced down at the pen and blank piece of paper on her table and she thought carefully about the song she wanted to write. She had written hundreds of songs over the years and wanted the music and lyrics of her song, Cup of Compassion, to convey how grateful she was for the help, hope and healing she received at the Crisis Center.

It had been a long and painful journey.  Just a few years before, Bernadett thought she would be writing a different song. She met a man she thought was special and they became engaged, but she soon realized that she was in a toxic and abusive relationship.

The abuse was both emotional and physical. Bernadett's fiancÚ would scream at her when she got home and would control Bernadett's finances. He hit her many times. The abuse even took place while they were driving.  He would slam on the brakes causing her head to hit the dashboard.

By the time she headed to California to visit her brother, she knew she wasn't going to stay in the relationship. She assumed her fiancÚ saw the writing on the wall. Her fiancÚ and his father had started to do renovations to her house.  She left on her trip with everything at her house in working order and expected to come home to things in the same condition.

When Bernadett returned from California, she knew something was wrong as soon as she pulled into her driveway. The shingles on her roof had been removed. She walked through the front door to find her home gutted and abandoned. Drywall had been torn out and electrical wires were exposed.  The timing couldn't have been worse as Tropical Storm Debbie was headed toward Florida.  Bernadett soon found herself struggling to minimize the damage from the rain that was pouring into her home through the broken roof.

She first turned to FEMA for assistance but her unique situation prevented her from getting the help she needed.  At the FEMA office she met Steve, a Family Stabilization Program case manager at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.  They arranged to meet at the Crisis Center so Bernadett's needs could be assessed. She received counseling at the Corbett Trauma Center where her therapist developed a plan for emotional healing. For the first time in a long time, Bernadett started to experience hope.

Today Bernadett is "paying forward" the help she received at the Crisis Center. She's a member of the Empowerment Group, a Volunteer Advocate in Sexual Assault Services, and serves on the committee for Take Back the Night.

Bernadett's story was told through a special video that was produced for the Cup of Compassion breakfast. To watch the video and hear an excerpt of her song Cup of Compassion, please click HERE.  


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