Norrix Senior Inspires the Community with Accounts of Tragedy

Putney-Wilcox at a hotel waiting for her house to be ready for the family to return. She is happy to open up about her experience with domestic violence because she wants to cause a chain reaction of teenagers opening up about their experiences.

Sophia Putney-Wilcox at a hotel waiting for her house to be ready for the family to return. She is happy to open up about her experience with domestic violence because she wants to cause a chain reaction of teenagers opening up about their experiences. Photo Credit / Kyron Williams

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” -Stephen Chbosky

17-year-old, Loy Norrix senior Sophia Putney-Wilcox believes that “Nobody — even if you’re not the best person ever – nobody should have to deal with someone who’s putting their hands on them.”

When Sophia and her ex-boyfriend, Adam Shigwadja, started dating in September of 2011, nothing was out of the ordinary. In the following December, Shigwadja was said to have started abusing Sophia mentally and physically.

In February of 2013, Shigwadja broke into the Putney-Wilcox house and allegedly threatened her with a knife. Upon that incident, the family decided to file a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against Shigwadja. Judge Alexander Lipsey denied the PPO request the same day, due to insufficient evidence of an immediate threat towards Sophia.

On the night of September 15th of 2014, Shigwadja allegedly entered the house of the Putney-Wilcox family undetected in an attempt to commit murder.

Sophia said that she was on her phone when she walked into her room to see Shigwadja under a blanket with a knife. She claimed that Shigwadja told her that he was going to kill her. Shigwadja then poured gasoline on her things and lit them on fire. As he was trying to drag both himself and Sophia in the fire, Kiely Putney-Wilcox, the brother of Sophia, rushed through the door with a baseball bat.

As Sophia’s brother was trying to fend Shigwadja off, she was struck in the head which resulted in brain surgery and having 42 staples put in her head.

The events that occurred on the night of September 15th, 2014 were extreme acts of domestic violence, though sometimes it may not be as severe. A person may be unaware if someone close to them is going through this. A person may start to feel alone or ashamed when being victimized by acts of domestic violence. This is because some people fear that if they tell anyone, their abuser will come back and hurt them even more. That’s how Sophia was beginning to feel. Between the 33 percent of teenagers that are in an abusive relationship, you are not alone.

“Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to feel alone. One of the biggest problems [with] domestic violence is that you feel alone and ashamed of everything, but opening up makes you able to get support,” said Sophia.

Only 33 percent of teenagers in abusive relationships tell anyone about it.

Sophia said thanks to her opening up about her experiences with domestic violence, “More and more people have been opening up about their experiences.”

Since the night of the incident, Sophia has been getting a lot of support through social media via Facebook.

Sophia said, “[The support has] really helped me get through this.”

Being there for someone when they go through something as tragic as this can help them get through it. Sophia added, “I have a lot of support from people, so I feel loved.”

Even though women from ages 20 to 24 are at a greater risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, according to the Safe Horizon website, a tragedy such as this can happen to anyone and a lot of people don’t understand that.

“Teens and adults don’t understand that it’s a huge problem, and everyone needs to realize that [Domestic violence] is a tragic thing that happens.” said Sophia.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, there could be someone close to you in a violent or abusive relationship.

“1/3 of high schools students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship,” said, Antoinette Davis from The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus.

A person may be unaware if someone close to them is in an abusive relationship, but there are some warning signs that may prove the tragedy to be true.

Going through something that will affect her for the rest of her life, Sophia is making a speedy recovery. Sophia returned to school in early October 2014, showing her resilience by adjusting to a normal life after being away from her home for so long.

Sophia Putney-Wilcox happy to be back at school after missing three weeks. She and best friend Desirae Douglas make funny faces at each other during lunch.

Sophia Putney-Wilcox happy to be back at school after missing three weeks. She and best friend Desirae Douglas make funny faces at each other during lunch.

Warning Signs

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