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Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, writer Alisha Harris and 'Rising Above the Scars'

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Ignore the "Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly admitted into Pyschiatric ward" headlines, as The Kelly File host continues to receive online rebuke for saying Slate writer Alisha Harris is wrong to want a black Santa Claus. The latest rebuke for the news show anchor comes in the form of satire masquerading as news according to a Dec. 22 Epoch Times report. But it appears to be just another way to embarrass the outspoken personality.

Two lesser known media females in Georgia are shining a light on the more important issues facing both whites and blacks at Christmas, as well as other times during the year. And they are working together to bridge racial divides while also giving hope to girls and women who are trapped in abusive or addictive situations.

In an interview conducted on Dec. 21, Atlanta Top News Examiner Radell Smith spoke with author Johnnetta McSwain about how a 5-year-old victim of incest, rape and physical and verbal abuse can rise above her circumstances and become a crusading champion for other female victims of abuse and addiction.

The Emmy Award-winning documentary subject thinks there is a lot more important things to talk about right now when it comes to national discourse than the color of someone's skin, and one of those things is the epidemic of abuse and addiction consuming all races in our nation.

That's why Johnnetta was more than happy to talk about the Georgia Public Broadcasting documentary made about her, which is titled, "The Road Beyond Abuse," and why she also openly discussed her autobiography "Rising Above the Scars" too.

The mother of two didn't crawl into a corner and let her abuse as a child rob her of her joy or her future. She didn't let it keep her from having hope or looking for real love, the kind God meant for her to have in life. And she has traveled around the nation and even internationally, telling her story of abuse, just so others can know that hope exists for them too, even though it is painful for her to retell that story.

I knew that there was something I had to do in my life. So I kept saying, 'OK, God, what is it you need me to do?'"

That question came years after her abuse; years after she fled Birmingham, Alabama for the safety and new start she hoped to find in Georgia. And years after she went from being a high school dropout to being a GED recipient and later becoming a college graduate.

The years of abuse from age 5 to 10 had taken their toll, but they had not taken the spirit of a girl who refused to give up on life. And that girl is now a woman determined to make sure her two sons and yours and mine do not follow the same cycle that so many others have followed in this world: the cycle of abuse and abuser.

"I had a boy aged 12 and 5. I didn't want them to be a rapist, sell drugs or go to prison as every man in my family had done," McSwain said, talking about what motivated her to leave her past behind.

So the 32-year-old mother packed up everything she owned and moved her small family out of Alabama and into Georgia, driving to the state twice that night, and having no idea what future she was going to, but knowing what horror she was running from, and unwilling to continue to live in it.

Ten years later, Johnnetta McSwain not only has B.S. degree in the field of communications from KSU, but she also has a Masters degree in social work from Clark Atlanta University. And in less than a year she will be handed her doctorate degree as well. She is proof that an abused girl from the ghetto, who would go on to live in Section 8 government housing (and be the recipient of food stamps and welfare), can rise above her past and make a new life for herself and her children.

And she wants other women and girls to have that same hope. And she didn't know that was her mission in life until she told her story for the first time years ago, at the prompting of the first mentor she ever had: a Jewish white woman professor by the name of Dr. Susan Kossak. And she speaks glowingly of the kind woman who took her under her wing and showed her the love of a mother.

Oh, my goodness. She was my mentor. She was meant for me. She was waiting on me, to meet me all my life."

Johnnetta's sister Sonya, who was also a victim of abuse in the home in which she was raised, was not as fortunate as to find such a mentor. But the two women took different paths, initially, in dealing with their horrific abuse at the hands of three male uncles in their grandmother's home. But today Sonya has left her destructive path too.

The emails McSwain received from girls and women that followed her first speaking engagement told her that her story was their story, too. And that is when she knew what she had to do: give women and girls hope, and help them find their own voice and way out of difficult abusive pasts.

And when KSU's Siegel Institute holds their annual Phenomenal Women's Conference in March 2014, Johnnetta McSwain will be there to tell how other women can escape their painful pasts of abuse, addiction and problems too, and the victim to victor will also teach them how to prepare for their future opportunities too, just like she learned to do.

Failure is not an option," Johnnetta says.

And she put that phrase on her refrigerator, her bedroom wall, and all over her house when she was going to college to earn her degree for the first time. So don't expect this particular media figure to fail to bridge the gap between the races like her more famous counterparts. That's because she knows that abuse knows no racial preference. Abuse doesn't discriminate; it impacts every culture and every socioeconomic class.

Atlanta Top News Examiner Radell Smith has a degree in criminal justice and behavioral forensics. You can contact her at with questions or comments.



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