Grandmother Gets Lawyer’s Help to End Abuse


Olivia Stewart* had been in an abusive relationship since high school. Her husband of more than 20 years had a good job – and a bad drug habit. The threats started with her husband saying he was going to kill her or shoot the dog. He began a campaign of intimidation, stealing things from the house, vandalizing her car, and sending vulgar text messages. Ms. Stewart knew he owned guns and she was afraid.

Then, he removed her from his medical insurance although she has a chronic disease. She had no money to pay the rent or bills and she knew she needed help. Legal Aid attorney Davida Dodson took her case and helped her get a divorce and get her finances in order.

Ms. Stewart was awarded spousal support for 12 years – plus nearly $50,000 as a share of her now ex-husband’s retirement benefits.

Ms. Dodson was concerned about her client’s health issues and got Legal Aid’s social worker involved to help her manage her symptoms. Ms. Dodson recruited the expertise of other Legal Aid attorneys to get her client out of a predatory car loan. And when her ex-husband tried to cash his income tax refund check before the divorce, Legal Aid’s tax attorneys cried foul.

Olivia Stewart was dealt a bad hand, but she is thankful for her Legal Aid team. “I think of Davida and the Jefferson staff quite often. They were all very good to me,” she says.

*name changed to protect client privacy.

Special thanks to United Way of Ashtabula and the Ashtabula Foundation for supporting Legal Aid’s work on cases like this in Ashtabula County!

Click here to view the full Poetic Justice Issue where this story appeared.

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