Black History Month - Honoring Vanessa McNeal

Home Blog Black History Month - Honoring Vanessa McNeal

In celebration of Black History Month, Friends of the Family is highlighting one African American individual per week that has contributed to our mission of serving people who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and/or homelessness. This week's spotlight is on Vanessa McNeal.

Vanessa grew up in a very abusive household. She was neglected, sexually abused, and exposed to other trauma, such as domestic violence. She was placed in her grandmother’s care permanently during grade school, which set the foundation Vanessa needed to attempt to heal. It was clear that Vanessa had fallen drastically behind her peers academically. She was placed in remedial classes, but quickly caught up to her peers, as school became her coping skill. Despite facing other hurdles in school, such as experiencing intimate partner violence, being sexually assaulted by a peer, and having a legal battle with the program in which the sexual assault occurred, she was the first in her family to graduate high school. McNeal then pursued higher education.

Vanessa graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelors degree, and recently graduated from UNI with a Master’s in Social Work. At the age of 23, Vanessa has created her own production company, “McNeal Media”. She has produced several documentaries such as “The Voiceless”. She later won “Best Director” at the Newark International Film Festival for this documentary.

Currently, McNeal is raising money for a new documentary called, “Gridshock”, which exposes the sex trafficking industry here in Iowa. If you would like to donate to make this documentary happen, please follow the link below.…/gridshock-a-film-about-sex-traf…

If you or someone else you know is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking, please contact our crisisline at 1-800-410-7233