Sexual abuse survivor, award-winning author, shares her story at - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Sexual abuse survivor, award-winning author, shares her story at Mott Community College

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(10/11/12) - There were powerful words Thursday from a woman who was abused by her mother, uncles and boyfriend. She then decided to break the cycle of abuse.

The award winning author is sharing her story in hopes of helping other women change their fate during domestic abuse awareness month.

Plenty of victims need her help.

According to Michigan State Police crime statistics, there were nearly 5,000 cases reported in Genesee County last year. In Saginaw County, it was just more than 3,000.

And those are only the reported cases.

Thursday, Mott Community College was talking about the problem. They invited an award-winning author to share her story of survival from sexual abuse.

"She'd say things like 'I wish I never had you," Johnnetta McSwain said. "'I should've left you in the bushes to die.'"

Those are words McSwain heard from her alcoholic mother her entire childhood. As a young girl, she was battered and raped by her uncles.

"I was beaten, I was put in the closet, sometimes I ate, sometimes I didn't, constantly reminded that I was nothing, I was ugly."

As a teen and young adult, she sold drugs, sold her body for money and had two babies by her mid-20s. Her boyfriend hit her and threatened to kill her. With two sons to think about, she knew something had to give.

"I woke up at 30 years old on my birthday and I looked in the mirror at myself and I saw the ugliest person you ever want to see," she said.

"So I packed up my house, that was 10 years ago, with a GED, two little boys and a truck. No job, no money, no man, nothing but a dream that I was going to be the first in my family to get my doctorate degree."

And she's almost there. She earned a master's degree and is working on her PhD. Thursday, she tried to send a message to women and men everywhere.

"You can take back your life, you can be normal, you can love again, you can stop that cycle. Yes, it's hard to break that cycle and it's focus and it's commitment, but you're either going to die, roll over and die, or you're going to get up and you're going to fight," she said.

McSwain is author of a book called "Rising Above the Scars" and she's founder of an organization called Beating the Odds, Breaking the Cycle.

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