When Sophia Putney-Wilcox’s former boyfriend, Adam Shigwadja, broke into her family’s home in February 2013, it marked a turning point from verbal abuse to something far more serious.
“He held a knife to my throat and was trying to get me to go outside,” Putney-Wilcox told MLive. “I was in my underwear and a T-shirt.”
Shigwadja was later arrested and, during his arraignment, was ordered to stay away from his former girlfriend.
But Putney-Wilcox, who was 17 years old at the time, wanted greater assurance that she’d be safe, and so she asked a court for a personal protection order from Shigwadja.
Despite the clear threat Shigwadja posed, the request was denied.
Court records show Circuit Judge Alexander C. Lipsey decided not to grant the request on the same day Putney-Wilcox filed it, MLive reports.
“I wanted as much protection as possible, and obviously the conditional bond didn’t work,” Putney-Wilcox said.
The following year, Shigwadja would break into Putney-Wilcox’s home again, assault her with a knife and light her bedroom on fire — a terrifying episode that left her with grave injuries she thought would kill her, according to CBS News.
During the attack in September 2014, Putney-Wilcox’s brother used a baseball bat to hit Shigwadja until he left through a window, but she was accidentally struck in the head with the bat, which left her with a serious head injury and a black eye.
Still, Putney-Wilcox is grateful for her brother’s intervention.
“If it wasn’t for this scar, I wouldn’t be here,” she to MLive, pointing to a row of stitches on the top of her skull.
Shigwadja was charged with attempted murder, home invasion, arson, unlawful imprisonment and violating bond. He was later convicted of first-degree home invasion, second-degree arson and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm. Circuit Judge Pamela L. Lightvoet found there wasn’t enough evidence he intended to kill Putney-Wilcox, a conclusion that drew outrage in the community, according to MLive.
Shigwadja was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison.
Putney-Wilcox said she’s glad to be alive and she hopes her story will prompt other victims of domestic abuse to get help.
“I want to let girls know that they don’t have to go through it. You deserve so much better,” she said. “Every single person deserves better than what I went through and a lot of women are going through.”
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[Feature Photo: Sophia Putney-Wilcox/Facebook]