Inspirational Guest Speaker Arrives In Bermuda

September 18, 2013

The transition from being a victim of sexual abuse to becoming a survivor can be compared to that of a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Johnnetta McSwain-Clay has experienced this first hand, and will be sharing details of her journey as a guest speaker for the Peace Day Celebration event, to be held at 6pm on Friday [Sept 20], at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.

The event is hosted in partnership with Saving Children and Revealing Secrets [SCARS] and Centre Against Abuse [CAA] to give Bermudians an opportunity to help end domestic abuse on the Island.

Ms McSwain-Clay was born in Alabama to an alcoholic mother and an absent father, and was left to live with her grandparents.

“I watched her cut a man’s, throat, burn a man and shoot a man,” she said. “I wasn’t allowed to show any emotions and I was literally afraid, I had no one to help me develop properly as a young lady.”

Ms McSwain-Clay [centre] with Laurie Shiell of CAA [right] and Jon Brunson of SCARS [left]

Johnnetta McSwain-Clay SCARS Bermuda, September 18, 2013-1

When she was only five-years-old, she was brutally raped and abused by her three uncles. By the age of eight she had contracted syphilis.

As she grew older, she became caught in a cycle of drug use and theft, dealing drugs and stealing to support herself.

Looking back at her horrific experiences, Ms McSwain-Clay explained why she struggled in such vicious circumstances: “I wanted to be loved.”

She said one day her yearning for a better life brought a moment of clarity.

“I couldn’t write, I was illiterate and I was so ashamed of failure, so I put ‘failure is not an option’ on my refrigerator and all over my house. I knew I had to change my environment, my friends and my life.”

When she was 30-years-old, she decided to change her life. She started college and graduated in 2006 with her Bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University, and two years later earned a Master’s in Social Work at Clark Atlanta University.

Now 43-years-old, Ms McSwain-Clay has written several books and created the 12 Step Self Awareness Model to help individuals break free from negative lifestyles.

CAA spokesperson Laurie Shiell said the event was “long overdue” and aims to partner with SCARS to hold an event of this nature annually.

SCARS spokesperson Jon Brunson stressed the importance of the event.

“For far too long it’s been a taboo subject that people didn’t want to talk about,” he said. “Our concerns are for the victims, and the children, who by no fault of their own, have been violated by a sexual predator.

“It is important for our guest speaker Ms McSwain-Clay telling her story, and it is equally important to know that even though you’ve been affected by such a heinous crime, there is a positive solution given the right frame work and support structure to transition victims into survivors.”

Ms McSwain-Clay encourages people of all ages to come to the event, and recommends anyone under 12-years-old to be accompanied by an adult due to the reality of the sensitive content.

For more information contact 292-4366 or 537-7949. For tickets, visit

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Comments (11)

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  1. Jim says:

    Does she have a work permit?

    • O'Brien says:

      Don’t be an a**.

      • Maddog says:

        She don’t need one your OBA GOVERNMENT GOT RID OF THEM…. GO FIGURE……

        • Mike Hind says:

          Do you know this, or are you just making stuff up because your party lost the election?

  2. Hair says:

    If it helps the issues that we are going through, bring her on!! Woo hoo

  3. fasho says:

    This is good. Sexual abuse is rampant in Bermuda. But shouldn’t we be worrying about keeping rights from gays?

  4. lifetime says:

    Why is there a charge for this. I mean sexual abuse is running rampant on this island. The people who need to hear it the most can’t afford to pay to attend. Hopefully she can go to a few schools also and tell her truly courageous story.

  5. Whistling Frog says:

    These lectures may help a few people who can afford to attend. The problem lies with the laws of the land which allows murderers, rapists and thieves to get away with matters with a slap on the wrist… 0

  6. Nicky Gurret says:

    Ms McSwain-Clay thank you for coming to Bermuda. Those that have organised this event well done. I hope all that have experience sexual abuse are able to hear her inspirational story.

  7. just a thought says:

    I believe this is a great idea to have this lady share her story. I also feel that she should visit schools and prisons as well and give those kids in school who have been exposed the courage to push on in life and not end up becoming ‘just another statistic’. Some people in the prisons have given up hopes in becoming better citizens because they have never had the opportunity to seek help in the right direction. Maybe her inspiring story can help a lot of men and women in Bermuda who can’t seem to look past this little island & give themselves a chance!

  8. Truth is killin' me... says:

    My pocketbook’s been abused for a number of years by BELCO, Govt LAND TAX and the Marketplace. When we going to have a meeting about that!!!