Domestic abuse survivor writes for awareness

Stephanie Barnes tells us how one woman uses her experience of abuse to raise awareness for domestic violence

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A Lockport woman is using her own story of domestic violence as motivation to write and publish children's stories. 

Jessica Cassick is a five-year survivor of domestic violence. After years in a dysfunctional relationship, she broke the cycle by getting out, getting help and getting creative. She launched a book publishing company this year. 

"The domestic violence cycle of abuse is so cyclical," Cassick said. "I like to call it the spiral of abuse because each time it goes around the circle, it gets smaller and smaller and it gets closer and closer to the really dangerous times." 

Those dangerous times served as inspiration to Cassick for the most recent children's book she authored and published through her company ImagineWe, LLC. 

The book, titled "Beside Brittany", is based on the story of Brittany Passalacqua. It is another story of domestic violence, but it has a different ending than Cassick's. 

"This book, generally, a child is just going to read it and it's going to be a little girl and she's traveling through a world and she's meeting mythical creatures," Cassick explained. 

Cassick said the story is so much more. Brittany was a 12-year-old from Geneva, N.Y. She was murdered in 2009, along with her mom, by her mom's boyfriend. 

The boyfriend was a violent offender on parole for assaulting another child. 

"If a child knows it is not ok for daddy to hit mommy or mommy to hit daddy, it's not ok for my parents or my guardian to hit me, knowing that could change things in the future and they could have to go through so many less traumatic experiences when they leave the house," Cassick said. "It's knowledge is power." 

Cassick artfully avoids the violence of Brittany's story in "Beside Brittany", describing her death as receiving her fairy wings and flying away into the sky. 

But Cassick hopes that the book can raise awareness about domestic violence and inspire victims to get out. 

"There's always a way out," Cassick said. "It always feels like you can't leave. It always feels like you're tethered to that person. But you can leave." 

Brittany's story is also the motivation behind Brittany's Law which is proposed state legislation that would create a registry of convicted domestic abusers. 

Cassick said this legislation might have saved Brittany's life.

A "Beside Brittany" convention is scheduled for this Sunday in Rochester. You can purchase the book there and also hear from domestic abuse survivors. 

It is happening at the Rochester Riverside Hotel and is free and open to the public. 

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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