Start by Believing: The Johnnetta McSwain Story: “Why Did Nobody Believe Us, Why, Why?”

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 20, 2022

Johnnetta McSwain
Dr. Johnnetta McSwain, PhD
Speaker, Author, Adjunct Professor

“Whatever happens in this house stay in this house”, as my momma would shout to my sister, and me. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, as a little girl, you didn’t tell your momma’s business. And sadly, the same rules apply in millions of households today. Dr. Johnnetta McSwain, author, empowerment speaker extraordinaire, will share her personal journey of how she triumphed and overcame vicious cycles of horrific childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, violence, and self-destruction, through her EMMY AWARD WINNING documentary, “The Road Beyond Abuse,” produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) and narrated by Jane Fonda. Born to an alcoholic mother and an absent father, the odds were unceremoniously stacked against her even as she drew her first breath. By the innocent age of five, she was viciously raped and incessantly battered by her three uncles while in the custody of her grandparents. And when she told, she was not believed, beaten, and sworn to secrecy. A secret she kept for over 30 years. This presentation will shed light on the adverse effects of not believing when childhood sexual and sexual assault is reported.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Assist those who have been victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence, in order to transition from victim to victor.
  • Recognize the importance of organizations, families, law enforcement, policy makers, social services, advocates, and survivors working together to improve individual and system responses to sexual assault.
  • Explain the connection between childhood abuse and adverse effects on victims in later life.


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