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Child abuse victim says 'failure not an option' in life

On August 20, one former child abuse victim decided to take her story public in an even bigger way than she did when she appeared in the PBS documentary The Road Beyond Abuse, which was narrated by Jane Fonda.

Dr. Johnnetta McSwain pictured in a flyer regarding her appearance on Opulence TV's Perspectives.
Courtesy of Johnnetta McSwain Facebook

This time Johnnetta McSwain, who went on to earn her bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees after quitting high school as a teen, did not choose to make her public presentation on the stage of one of the many educational venues she has appeared on in the past, according to this Facebook post.

Instead, the author of Breaking the Cycle, Beating the Odds placed her testimony on YouTube, where she says that anyone who needs a message of "hope, love, empowerment and support" can find it as of Aug. 20--for free.

But don't expect this presentation to mirror the subdued soft-spoken young woman portrayed in the documentary by PBS, or the adult woman who has given many talks to audiences around the world since then, as Johnnetta has told this Examiner that, while she could dress up her speech for educated audiences, her abuse as a child was a raw and violent ordeal, and she will not "pretty it up" in order to make those in her audience find it more palatable. And she says that is because abuse, especially child abuse, is never "pretty." And she is right.

McSwain desires to connect with young people experiencing abuse and hardship in their lives right now, and she also wants to reach adults who may also have had similar experiences when they were young--or be in abusive relationships right now. She is looking to give hope to those hurting people and help them look beyond their abuse and forge a new and better life for themselves, as she has done. And she is willing to brave criticism and derogatory comments about her presentation style in order to do it.

And that's because she knows that teens who are enduring the kind of abuse she endured often cannot afford (and would not spend what money they have if they could) in order to go here someone speak in a formal academic setting about abuse, especially if the speaker spoke to them in a tone of indifference or used restraint to describe their circumstances, which can be something others try to require of her in more formal venues.

Youth and adult victims will more readily relate to the pain she and they both know far too well if they can hear McSwain tell her own story to them in her own words--and in her own way, she says. And those victims will be able to tell that she, like them, may have been a brutalized young woman in the past--and may still carry the scars from those experiences--but also like her, they have the hope of being able to learn how to move forward and forge a new and better life for themselves. A life in which they are no longer the victim.

And Johnnetta McSwain wants to show them how they can do that. And that is why her presentation on YouTube is called "Failure is not an option: You too can rise above all your scars."

To learn more about the PBS documentary The Road Beyond Abuse, order McSwain's book entitled "Rising Above the Scars," book her for an event or watch her recent appearance on Opulence TV's Perspectives Show, contact her at LinkedIn.

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