Message of hope: Speaker Johnnetta McSwain. *Photo by Mikaela Ian Pearman
Message of hope: Speaker Johnnetta McSwain. *Photo by Mikaela Ian Pearman

A physical and sexual abuse victim who turned her life around is calling for Bermudian women to stand up to their abusers and prosecute them. 

Johnnetta McSwain was  abused from the age of five.

One day, she decided would not become a product of her environment. 

Ms McSwain created Breaking the Cycle, Beating the Odds, an organisation aimed at helping young women who are victims of abuse. 

She dropped out of high school in the tenth grade but is now working on her PhD.

Speaking at tonight’s Road Beyond Abuse event at the Fairmont Hamilton, Ms McSwain will  urge young women to break the cycle.  

“In the states, you cannot drop the charges anymore. 

“Once you dial 911, the state will prosecute. They said that because how are we going to end domestic violence and put restrictions on it if women drop the charges?” 

She continued: “It sounds crazy but abuse, it’s healthy for them. We don’t know how to separate our heads from our brains. 

“I find that with women that talk to me, there’s a thing about feeling lonely and the whole ‘that’s my baby daddy’.

“They say ‘I have been with him for so long. We belong together’.

 “Until we can build up that self love, we’re going to have these problems.

 “I would say stop dropping the charges. The minute you pick up the phone and say ‘he hit me in the face’, he’s going to jail. 

“They are afraid if he gets out, he’s going to kick their butt. 

“Some women like it. If you’re not kicking their butt, you don’t love them.”

Ms McSwain also said it was important for women to realise what a good man is. She said her husband is a hard-working man compared to the thugs she used to date. 

 “I never knew what a real man was. I was into the thugs. 

“My friend said he was too country and he was boring because he wasn’t out on the corner and didn’t have three beepers. 

 “I look back and I laugh. He was the most beautiful person that I have ever met in my life. I had  never dated a man that went to work and clocked out. 

“I didn’t know what a good man was.”

Asked about her message to young women, the 43-year-old said: “I want to give to women, young girls and young men. 

“When dealing with domestic violence and sexual abuse and childhood sexual abuse, it’s hard to become whole after abuse. 

“As we know, abuse robs you of your innocence. No matter what happened to you, no matter how many scars you have, you can rise above it. 

‘You can become successful and you love again and you can heal.  You don’t have to be hopeless.”

She continued: “A lot of times, we’re in despair. We feel nobody loves us. 

“We feel life is over, but my whole message is life is just beginning.”

Ms McSwain said the important thing to remember is that you can break the cycle. 

“I think one of the biggest things I get while I’m travelling is how to forgive, how to let go of that pain. 

“How to forgive your mother, your father, that boyfriend that cheated on you or that person in your life who let you down. 

“Abuse comes in many forms. This whole event is about the road beyond that. 

“Let’s go beyond that road that has us stuck, that has us paralyzed.

“We all have scars, whether they’re visible or invisible.”

Road Beyond Abuse will be held at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess starting at 6:30pm. Tickets are $100 and are available at www.ptix.bm, 27th Century Boutique and Caesar’s Pharmacy.