Janesville woman fights back against domestic violence

Posted Thursday, August 7, 2014 --- 3:46 p.m.

4 years ago a Janeville woman's life was turned upside down by domestic violence, now she's joining with the Rock County YWCA as the keynote speaker for it's "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event.

"Jessa was someone who was really strong, she was smart, probably the smartest person I have ever known," said Melanie Wittman.

Jessa Schauman was just 33. A successful prosecuting attorney in St. Louis.

"If it can happen to Jessa it can happen to anybody," Melanie added.

She'd been with her fiancé for 8 years, when her sister, Melanie, got a call from their brother at her home in Janesville.

"I answered the phone and as soon as I said "hello" the first thing he said was "we're at the hospital, Jessa's been shot in the head."

Devastated, confused, and in shock, Melanie sped the 350 miles to St. Louis.

"She was with him for 7 or 8 years and she was leaving that night, she was done, she had had enough...The most dangerous time in a relationship for a women is when she's leaving," Wittman said.

Missing her sister everyday, Melanie says she wishes she had said something or noticed something that could have saved her sisters life.

"We can look back now and see that it was really classic signs, all of the textbook things they say to look for and all the signs of an abusive relationship. He called her all the time, he wanted her to be at home with him."

Making a promise to her sister who was laying in a hospital bed supported by machines---Melanie says she's fighting back against domestic violence.

"It can happen to people who have a lot of education, she was a lawyer, it can happen to people who don't have any education. It doesn't know any boundaries in terms of socioeconomic status, it doesn't know any boundaries in terms of race, it can happen to anyone."

Giving a voice to her little sister that was muted far too soon.

For all the information for the Rock County "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event you can head to www.ywcawalkamile.org

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