***Names and specific details altered to protect the identity of the victims***
Jessica had been divorced about one year when she thought about dating again. This idea, almost exhausted her as she had little free time. She worked two jobs: one as a waitress and one as a part time sales clerk. She also was a single mom. Her ex-husband had moved to another state and rarely - if ever saw their two children. She was lonely. She craved adult conversation and a person to call - for no reason. She would wait on couples in the restaurant and long for a partner who wanted to take her out to eat and spoil her with flowers and gifts. Shawn was a regular at the restaurant. He was very handsome. Tall, muscular, great smile and a flirt. He always told Jessica that she looked pretty and was the best server at the place. He often asked her, "When do you get off?", but she would just smile and carry on her business. One day, Shawn came in and asked her how she was doing. Just so happens, it was a terrible day. Her electric bill was due - ($200+), her kids needed school supplies and shoes...and she had only $28.00 to her name. She normally didn't tell customers her business, but Shawn was so kind...she sort of broke down. "I'll be working all day today, because I need cash. I am in a bit of a jam...so will be a long day for me." she told him. He smiled, said that stinks and ordered his breakfast. When he left, she went to clean the table and realized that Shawn had left her a $200.00 tip - CASH! Unbelievable, no one had ever left her a tip like that. Shawn was amazing. Jessica finally agreed to a date with Shawn, and it was hands down the best date that she had ever been on. He was a gentleman, charming, funny and so attentive. He complimented her all night and even showed up at her house with flowers. SWOOON. Jessica was falling in love: hard and fast. Over the next couple of months, the relationship became more serious and she introduced Shawn to her family. No one else saw Shawn the way that she did, and frankly their opinions didn't matter. She loved him. They moved in together. One year into the relationship, Shawn wanted Jessica to quit her waitressing job. She was stressed, he made plenty of money and he didn't like the way other men would hit on her while she was working. In fact, he began hanging out at the restaurant bar every time she worked - to keep an eye on her. Shawn was starting to get very agitated when she would talk to male customers and accuse her of sleeping with them. Jessica didn't quit, but she did cut her hours. She would only work the breakfast shift from now on so Shawn wouldn't worry about the drinking crowd - and men flirting with her. Shawn also began making fun of Jessica, degrading her accomplishments and accusing her of all sorts of terrible things. If she didn't answer the phone, he would show up wherever she was - screaming and ranting. He would delete messages from her family and threaten to take his own life if she ever left. She finally got the nerve to break up and kick him out of the apartment. This is when the real abuse started: bricks through her windows, break ins to her car and home, threats to family and friends, non-stop calls to her employer and hacks into her accounts. Shawn would still show up at her work...he would vandalize her car, spit in her face and break items at the store. The police were called, but he would be long gone. No one took her complaints seriously until he tried to kill her. Jessica needed to hide from this man and escape the abuse. Thankfully, she was able to get into the local domestic violence abuse shelter until he was sent to prison. With assistance from other local organizations (funded by United Way of Wayne and Holmes) she was able to move her and her children to a new place in a new town, graduate from college and get a full time position with benefits. Every donation to United Way of Wayne and Holmes helps someone like Jessica escape a troubled path and be on the road to recovery and success. Consider a donation of any amount to Be the Light to other people just like Jessica.

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