How Emmy-Award Winning Johnnetta Mcswain Broke the Curse

“You are not the victim once you start telling your story, you are the victor!” – Johnnetta Mcswain

Emmy Award Winning, Johnnetta Mcswain is a woman to which I hold high regard. I am not fascinated by her story. I am overwhelmed by the desire to cry without ceasing. Her story is one that is more common than I would like to acknowledge.

In the commonality of her story feel no numbness, we should feel every single painful memory, and experience with a violent commitment to eradicate child sexual abuse in families. The secret you keep is not a secret at all.

Johnnetta Mcswain, Author

Here is a quick excerpt from her book: Rising Above the Stars

My Dirty Little Secret:

“My momma disappeared for weeks at a time, leaving us at my grandmomma’s house. This was when the sexual abuse started at the hands of my three uncles, and occasionally my great-uncle. Sonya, James, and I were all around the ages of five and six.
My grandmomma loved going to church. My uncles saw this as an opportunity to molest us. As Grandmomma dressed and sang her hymns, my uncles were preparing for the worst. They would whisper to us about what they were planning to do once my grandmomma left. I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach as she prepared to leave.
My body would shut down. The smell of her perfume made me grow weak. The jingle of her keys made my mouth go dry. The click-clack of her heels on the wooden floor made me shake. And, finally, the front door closing would prepare my body for what was about to happen.
My uncles were young; probably in their late teens and early twenties. One weighed over two hundred pounds and the other two were of average build. They would chase us down and drag us by our legs and feet from under the bed where we had run to hide.
They tore our clothes off and then tied us up with ropes. We were naked and tied to chairs in the living room where they would brutally sexually violate us for hours at a time; taking turns mounting us like musical chairs. We were forced to watch each other get assaulted. I dreaded every moment, knowing when it was my turn to watch and when it was my turn to be raped.
We were just children experiencing and witnessing this horrific exploitation of our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It was especially horrifying to watch my cousin, James who would be made to sit in the lap of my uncles while being anally penetrated. He would scream out in anguish as his pride and boyhood were stolen. He fought, but like the rest of us, he was choked or beaten for fighting back.
I cringed each time I heard his cries, but was powerless to help him. They were shameless and evident in regard to the great pleasure they shared by way of our unspeakable pain.
Sadistically, they would then order us to perform oral sex acts that made us gag and left our mouths sore. Afterward, they would ejaculate on our bodies and in our mouths, telling us semen was good for us and that it was okay to swallow because it tasted like creamed corn. 
Sometimes, they would light up marijuana joints and make us smoke with them. They also bought pornographic magazines and made us flip through the pages to find centerfolds of naked women performing sexual acts on themselves.
Once we found the photos, we would have to imitate these adult women, while they watched and masturbated. I felt so dirty mirroring these sleazy images. Often, I was trapped beneath a man who weighed over two hundred pounds. I fought to breathe, praying that my asthma would not kick in or maybe hoping that it would. I would lay my body completely still, as the bed shook and squeaked.
I could not feel the pain of his violation deeply rooted in my insides. I was forced to develop the ability to remove my spirit from this place and my mind from this scene of horror. I would become invisible. That was my newfound “superpower,” and I used it well. It was used to the point where I did not cry or make a sound.
I felt sorry for my sister because I knew she had no power against them. I knew they were slowly destroying her mind. 
If only she would let go, I thought.
I could feel myself trying to relay this message to her telepathically: Let go, Sonya… just let go. Give them your body, but nothing else! She fought hard; not only for herself, but for me, too. They matched every effort of her childhood strength with manly blows that should have killed her. I don’t know the precise moment it happened, but I lost my sister back then. A part of her died in that house.
My uncles were the monsters we wanted to destroy. They treated us like we were trash that was ready to be thrown away. We were not treated like children. For that matter, we were not treated like we shared the same blood as them pumping through our veins. The horror of being penetrated by such large men went far beyond the physical pain.
It obliterated any sense of peace I might have had because it destroyed my faith in all adults. Feeling my uncles’ large, masculine hands around my small neck squeezing it every time I wiggled or turned to see if Sonya and James were all right, did more than cut off my air; it crushed my spirit. One after the other, as they climbed on top of me, I became more and more numb to the thumping pain I felt.
At night, alone in the bath-room, I would attempt to wash my blood-soaked panties out in the sink so no one would know what was happening. The next morning when I had to wash up for school, the thumping continued in my raw, sore vagina. Many days, I walked to school gap-legged because my legs would be so sore and bruised from being forced open for hours. I contracted syphilis and momma moved us out of that house but the scars remain today.”

Johnnetta Mcswain is open, and genuine. She is a fantastic example of a woman who was born with a strength from God. All three Uncles are dead now. One of the three Uncles who were brothers, Adrian was shot and killed by the brothers of the girlfriend he abused.

He passed when Johnnetta was approximately six or seven years old. Harry, another Uncle, was serving over thirty years for rape when he passed away due to poor health a few years ago.  Harry had a box with a picture of Johnnetta and Sonya when he was found. For many predators, this could represent conquest or trophy, and not apology or conviction. The other brother passed away due to a heart attack, last year.

Sonya, Johnnetta’s sister has suffered psychologically from the effects of the abuse she experienced at an early age. Sonya is embattled with clinical Depression, Schizophrenia,  and is HIV positive. She speaks locally at schools in Birmingham, Alabama, and is now facing a life decision to be committed to a residential facility.

Her cousin who is believed to be the result of an incestuous relationship between his mother and grandfather has been incarcerated for murder and may be released from prison soon. He has struggled with his sexuality as a result of the rapes that he experienced and witnessed from their uncles. Johnnetta looks forward to having a conversation about healing from the trauma of abuse along with her sister as an intervention for her cousin.

Positive Parents Preventing Predators

What is most impressive about Johnnetta to some is her education. As the Emmy Award Winning Documentary below provides, she obtained a GED after dropping out of high school years earlier. She then pursued and accomplished a Bachelor’s in Communication, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She is currently working on her Doctorate.

I will leave educational agenda to the media and the nay-sayers surprised by her ability to rise above her scars to such a place of educational and institutional prominence. However, because my focused intention is healthy relationships, and healing I can not help but notice that Johnnetta has been a parent who broke the cycle of abuse in her own children.

What I find blood line preserving is her ability to overcome her own abuse motivated by the gazing eye of her children’s soul. There was a call to action in her sons eyes, and she responded.

I had the rare pleasure of speaking with Ms. Mcswain on the telephone for this interview for about three hours, and what I found out empowered me. She knows what I know. Sharing your story is not about being a victim, it is indeed about the victory of your healing. Sharing your story is not to exploit child sexual abuse, yourself or your family.

What we do with our whole lives poured in is help those who read my blog, or listen to us in an audience develop the knowledge to prevent or stop abuse in their own lives. We support adults who, like Sonya and my sisters are angry, depressed and in pain by creating systems that work to support their healing process.

You May Also Like: Jan Williams Pregnant At Age Eleven By Brother Kicks Anti-Psychotic Medication

Only forgiveness can lift the heaviest weight of abuse. We speak with an international audience to declare that you brand your life, and not others around you. The abuse that we’ve experienced may seem like Precious but we have indeed chartered our own courses, and created alternative endings.

Even we are not the same. As we aim to eliminate child sexual abuse, and facilitate healing what remains paramount is the clarity that abuse is not the main topic. Abuse is part of your story but what you do with your healing is the heart of your purpose which takes out the old and ushers in the new, fresh life producing experience to which we all are re-made.

The Business of Child Sexual Abuse 

In a total business sense, when I Googled the word, abuse, it came up exactly About 1,200,000,000 results (0.11 seconds). With this total in the google engine, all movies made by Tyler Perry, Precious and books like, I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, or The Color Purple, it would seem that the industry is over saturated with information about Abuse, over the years.

In the last year we’ve fired, supported, maimed, and read the eulogy of Joe Paterno due to his alleged role in keeping silent with one of his coaches Jerry Sandusky who raped boys for fifteen years. There was a scandal with Syracuse and my personal favorites Darrell Gilyard who served three years as a Rapist in a prison, and upon release was returned to the pulpit. And, of course Eddie Long.

The Catholic Church, and other sects of Christianity have dealt with this openly but now that the baptist and non-denominational groups are speaking out, what will happen to the business of the church?

The real business of Child Sexual Abuse is the $124 Billion that it costs over the life span of the one in four women and one in six men who are reportedly sexually abused before the age of eighteen, who develop mental, and physical illness because of the effects associated with this epidemic.

This however, is one thing that we as a body of people can control. By speaking out, our tongues and our voice become the beat and the drum that make the eradication of sexual crime as organized and viral as KONY 2012.

We can be the pulse of a revolution that stands up to abuse to scream, I Have the Power to Say NO! 

We thank her for operating in strength and empowering women be victorious, limitless and broken. This is Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and Johnnetta McSwain was chosen to be profiled on Love, Life, and Relationships: Overcoming Emotional and Child Sexual Abuse because she is a leader, creating a platform for others who are ready to break their silence and transform lives to follow her tenacious example.

Johnnetta McSwain, MSW, Ph.D. candidate

CEO and Founder Breaking The Cycle, Beating the Odds

Empowerment Speaker, Author, Life Coach

Johnnetta has since founded the organization, Breaking the Cycle: Beating the Odds, developed and facilitates a mentoring program, and is ardently pursuing her Ph.D.

Rising Above the Scars, written by Johnnetta McSwain, was released November 19, 2010. It is a factual and striking account of real-life events intended for women of all ages.

Its objective is to help those who have been victims of child abuse to begin the healing process, in order to transition from victim to victor.

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About Ressurrection

Ressurrection Graves is a Child Sexual Abuse Grooming Expert and H.E.A.L.E.R. (Healer, Educator, Activist, Life Skills Expert, Empowerment Speaker, Relationship Mentor) Her website reaches readership in 188 countries. She is available for national speaking engagements, radio and television interviews. She can be reached at: 202.717.7377 or send your request to: ressurrection dot wordpress at yahoo dot com or comment on
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19 Responses to How Emmy-Award Winning Johnnetta Mcswain Broke the Curse

  1. gigoid says:

    Reblogged this on gigoid and commented:
    Another powerful story of evil and redemption in real life, experienced and written by real people. Take heed, ffolkes, this shames all of us who are not the victims, as long as we do not act…..

    • Absolutely. I have a post coming out on the 4th of this month saying exactly that. The title is “Silence is Violence.” One of the ways I teach when I go out and share my story is by helping others to see the importance of noticing certain signs to prevent abuse. However, if you see it SAY SOMETHING!!!! Shout from the rooftop if necessary. Sundi Jo (one of the profiles coming out later in the month) says it this way, “Secrets make you Sick!” Thank you for sharing. Peace, Res

  2. shilohfaith says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful real life story. It portrays that in the evil that is present in our world, Hope and Love will always prevail.

    • I agree! I loved writing this story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reading. If you have a chance make sure you check out the documentary as well. Peace, Res

  3. ceceliafutch says:

    Thank you for sharing this powerful story. I am deeply moved by it. My son and his family have become foster parents/family so that they can provide hurting children with a safe, nurturing environment. I will definitely repost this to my blog. Again, thank you for the work you do, and for sharing this story.

  4. My Heart is breaking as I read this testimony. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Reblogged this on Sherline's Watchu Thinkin' Blog and commented:
    Breaking curses under such painful and traumatic circumstances. Read this heartbreaking and yet victorious testimony of one womans horrific accounts of sexual abuse. Only God can provide for such inner peace even in the most horrific of circumstances. Healing comes by confessing the truth of your experiences rather than remaining silent or becoming in-denial of them.

  6. Thank you and I say this with Empathy

    • Thank you Ginny! We are victorious! I am blessed to have this platform to help others to heal and overcome abuse. This month is a celebration of those who have gone from victim to victor!

  7. Pingback: Marko Hamiln: One Man’s Story Of Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse and Depression | Love, Life, and Relationships: Overcoming Emotional and Child Sexual Abuse

  8. eof737 says:

    Disturbing. Powerful. Inspirational. Thank for sharing Johnetta’s story… We must no longer remain silent on this subject…. Blessings to all.

  9. Pingback: Jan Williams: Pregnant At Age Eleven By Brother Kicks Anti-Psychotic Medication | Love, Life, and Relationships: Overcoming Emotional and Child Sexual Abuse

  10. Pat says:

    I met Johnnetta in the Bahamas and I have since been tremendously blessed. I too have a dirty little secret and have battled with it for years. I also broke the cycle and used education as my escape. I hug my kids everyday and in fact in their minds I probably over love them or I’m over protective. I dreaded each day until they reached and passed the age that I was sexually molested and now my caution and protection of them still continues. I live in a community/society that is not as forgiving and accepting as Johnnetta’s and have always looked at and been told that my secret would hurt me, in the progression of my career and life if revealed. I commend Johnnetta for speaking out and realizing that shame, as Dr David Allen states is just self hatred aimed at me. I realize now thanks to Johnnetta, that I am who I am and I have overcome some tremendous scars and I am standing as a witness that God’s grace love and mercy carrys you through, along with your own will and determination to succeed. I know there are many that have these same scars and thank God some have confided in me as a way to release the pain. We never asked for happened to us, but thank God we have risen above these scars. God Bless You Johnnetta, never cease from speaking out.

    • I’m so glad that you have been blessed by Johnnetta. This website is dedicated to healing from abuse. I hope you’ll stay, the stories will continue to inspire and challenge you to live your best life. Many blessings. Res

  11. Pingback: [MEDIA RELEASE] Heal Me With Words™ Photo Exhibit during National Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month 2013 | Love, Life, and Relationships: Overcoming Emotional and Child Sexual Abuse

  12. Pingback: Jan Williams: Pregnant at age eleven | Ressurrection

  13. percy tate says:

    If I hadn’t witnessed you story first hand I would have thought you a lier,but you are no lier!
    GOD brought us through it all so we could help those who are going through some of the same
    situations. Johnnette , you have always been my hero,my favorite cousin,my best friend. A person
    I could always talk to about anything,but I never thought we would be talking about our horrible
    past of abuse,neglect,reject,and scorn.You are definitely an inspiration to many,especially me!
    you’re my cousin,friend , “shero”,and only sister…”

    I love you,I love you ,I love you” Your cousin; Percy Tate (James)

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