UPDATE: [A previous version of this article stated that Shealy was not disciplined. HR for MCFR stated on May 27, that he was suspended for one shift following the date of his arrest.]
Domestic violence victim Nicole Leinas said it was hard to come out with her story because of victim shaming.
Leinas said that she was engaged to be married to MCFR firefighter Jason Shealy after being in a relationship for eight years and shamefully allowed the abuse to happen because she thought Shealy would change.
When the abuse got worse she said she finally mustered up the courage to file an injunction against him.
Shealy was arrested on May 16 after he violated the domestic violence injunction.
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Leinas said that after the injunction was filed, Shealy had once told her he would do whatever it takes to get back at her.
Leinas provided photos that she says illustrates just a small percentage of the abuse she endured. Some of the photos cannot be shared.
She said there were times she had to call into to work due to injuries to her face or because the emotional abuse had taken a toll on her mentally. Additionally, she said that when she found out that Shealy had had multiple affairs and confronted him that the abuse got worse.
“While some of the abuse was physical, including being hit in the face and even choked, a lot of what I endured was emotional and verbal abuse,” said Leinas. She went on to say, “He used to scream at me, call me a whore, told me my face was ‘fu**ed up, told me what a worthless piece of s**t I was and that I was a waste of a human. He used to spit in my face. When I got pregnant and had my daughter he told me I needed to lose weight.”
Leinas, who is a nurse, said, “I didn’t want to be a statistic and have a broken family. All I ever tried to do was help him. I stood by him through his addiction and wanted him to get better. I wanted him to get off the drugs. All of my efforts backfired in my face.”
Leinas said she has never been the type of person to get into trouble much less an altercation. She said but most recently she put herself in a situation that landed her in jail. She said that on that particular day, Shealy had not let her speak to her daughter all day and refused to put her on the phone. She said she ended up driving to Shealy’s house because she knows the type of person he is, who he hangs around, and was afraid for her daughter.
She said Shealy did not want her to come over, but she did not feel she had a choice. Once there, she said Shealy told her that he would call someone to make her leave. That person was a former corrections officer. She said when Shealy’s “friend” showed up that an altercation ensued and she was charged with misdemeanor battery.
“While I have never been in trouble and was so embarrassed, I would do it again if I felt my daughter was in danger,” said Leinas.
Before the incident, Leinas said she talked to the HR director at MCFR and was treated like a criminal. She said she was told that MCFR always hears stories from women who try and make false accusations against other firefighters. She said they told her it was her word against his.
“I even provided them with the photos of my injuries that were a result of the abuse,” said Leinas. She went on to say, “Shealy told his supervisors that the injuries were self-inflicted.”
Leinas said, “One of the injuries is from where he bit me on the face. It is not even possible to bite myself on the face.”
MCFR Human Resources Director Amanda Tart told Ocala Post that they know Shealy was arrested and are aware of the allegations. Tart said they are investigating and Shealy was suspended for one shift following the date of his arrest. He has since returned to full duty.
“I have been victim shamed, laughed at, accused of self-inflicting my injuries, and received hateful messages,” said Leinas. Adding, “I believe a woman should not have to be scared to come forward. A woman who has been abused, especially by someone who works as a public servant, should be able to exercise her rights.”
Leinas said, “I feel like the agency is just protecting its own and that is another reason I was scared to come forward…the good old boy network.”
Leinas, with tears running down her face, said, “I have been told that I must have deserved it and that I must have been the instigator. That is wrong on so many levels. Yes, I made the biggest mistake and stayed. I allowed my emotions of not wanting a broken family to cloud my judgment, but I did not deserve it by any means.”
She said that there are those who have turned a blind eye to the abuse even after she spoke up. She said certain family members acted like it never happened even when it was witnessed.
“Family should not turn their back on you,” said Leinas. “If there is something to take from all of this it’s that I want other women to know that they can have a voice. No matter who the abuser is, you can have a voice, use your rights, and speak up.”
Shealy could not be reached for comment.
The State Attorney’s Office said that they could not comment because the investigation is ongoing.
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