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Melisa Reidy is Speaking Out. It’s Time to Listen.

By: Kelly Wallace

On September 19th, 2018, Melisa Reidy posted a blog that took her years to be able to write. At first, she wasn’t sure she would publish it. Then, she was warned that speaking out could affect her financial future. But after suffering through years of abuse, she finally felt ready to share what she’d experienced. Her blog, confirming the emotional and physical trauma she suffered, spread quickly. Russell was placed placed on administrative leave just a couple days later. As it turned out, Reidy found she had a lot of supporters of her own. She was overwhelmed with messages from people sharing their own stories, or simply thanking her for how much it meant that she had shared hers.

Two months later, I sat down to have lunch with Melisa in Pensacola, Florida, and listened as she shared the details of her abusive marriage to Addison Russell for the first time. She also shared journals she wrote about her experiences. Excerpts from those journals appear in italics.

Melisa Reidy was born in California and raised in Alabama, one of three girls. “My dad raised us in a Christian home,” Reidy said, “We had a lot of expectations from our parents, our morals are very, very strong.” For her first sleepover, her parents had to go to the house and make sure it was safe before giving her permission and things like boyfriends and nail polish weren’t allowed.

“We were tomboys…you wouldn’t even recognize me,” she laughed. Present day Melisa is petite, a fast talker, and almost impossible not to notice. “I was very insecure, I grew up and I bloomed.” Reidy also went from not being allowed to buy Lip Smackers to providing expert advice on almost any product you can imagine.

It was a friend from cosmetology school who introduced her to Addison Russell. She’d only been with one person before, but Reidy decided to give him a chance anyway. Afterward a date at a football game, Melisa had started to develop feelings for him and said she fell in love with his personality. She thought he was a gentleman, and a family-oriented person, two things that are very important to her

Before they began dating, Reidy had a laparoscopy to treat her endometriosis and Russell came to visit her every day. “He was being so sweet. He was getting to know my mom. It felt so perfect,” Melisa said. A few days later, Addison officially asked Melisa to be his girlfriend.

The night before Russell left to go play in the Arizona Fall League in 2014, he had a going away party and invited Reidy. She remembered the song “Chocolates and Roses” by The Green playing while they danced. She described feeling like she was living in a fairytale. “That night he told me he loved me, after not even three weeks of knowing each other. I was like, “Oh my god, I love you too. We’re soulmates!”

Looking back, she thought that showed just how naive she was. Reidy was only twenty years old.

While Russell played in Arizona, he and Reidy still talked by phone, but she described herself as being laid back about it. Melisa said she’s not one of those clingy girls constantly texting and calling. She figured people will talk when they want. No reason to get worked up. She wondered if that made it too easy for him to cheat.

“After leaving him, I found out more and more times of him cheating, since the day we started dating. It’s devastating. I’m still trying to heal…I feel like I’m ok, something new pops up and it makes the healing process start all over again.”

“He was never loyal,” Reidy declared. Russell was sleeping with someone else from the beginning of their relationship, which resulted in an unintentional pregnancy. When Russell arrived home from Arizona after playing in the Fall League, a friend told her she had heard rumors about Addison and another woman. A few days later when she was at Russell’s home, she was shocked to see what seemed to be a sonogram sticking out of his bag. “I have nephews, I know what a sonogram looks like,” she says. “I’ll never forget that gut feeling.” After seeing the mother’s name on the sonogram, she looked it up on Facebook. They had one mutual friend, Russell. They’ve since become friendly and developed what Reidy described as a deep respect for each other as mothers. “We were thrown into a situation with each other that was not truthful. We were both played,” Reidy said of the connection she has with Mallory. “To make her feel like he wanted to be with her…get somebody pregnant, leave them, get a girlfriend, then keep lying…it was very hard for her.”

Russell denied his involvement at first but eventually, Reidy shared, he broke down and confessed. “He’s teary-eyed and I’m trying to put myself in his shoes…he’s a twenty-year-old kid. Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. I was like, you know what? You’re gonna be fine…my heart, it hurt for him, seeing him so distressed.” Melisa recalled consoling Russell, and then helping him tell his family.

The waiter approached our table to ask if we need anything else. We both ordered food but neither of us have eaten much of anything. After he walked away, Reidy sighed. “Me and the Melisa in 2014…I feel like she’s a different person than who I am now,” she said, “When I think about myself back then, I feel sorry for myself. I’m like, shit. That poor thing.”

Melisa got pregnant in Texas on Thanksgiving. “I just had the laparoscopy, I was on birth control…I guess it hadn’t kicked in yet,” she said. She knows the sex was careless but, “I loved him. We were gonna spend the rest of our lives together. He’d already talked about wanting to marry me.” Russell had asked Reidy’s parents if he could marry her at the beginning of December. Reidy didn’t find out she was pregnant until January 1st.

Melisa remembered Russell being happy when she told him about the pregnancy but his family’s demeanor towards her changed immediately after she shared the news with them. It was also the same day that Russell proposed to her. “Me and him were fine,” Reidy says, noting that she didn’t have a “warm or welcoming” experience with Russell’s family at any point.

“After giving the news to Addison, his reaction wasn’t as I expected at first. He was off for a day or so but then came around and made me feel like he was happy and everything was going to be okay. Time went on and we had to tell his parents, which I knew wasn’t going to be fun. Ever since I met Addison’s mother, she automatically threw prenups into conversations when we first started dating so I knew she would automatically think I was after something else other than just her son. I till this day know for a fact Addison’s mother never liked me, for reasons I still don’t know. She states she did, but her actions spoke differently, just as Addison’s came to.”

I asked when things stopped feeling quite so much like a fairy tale, and she pointed to her pregnancy as the moment their relationship changed. She stayed behind when he left for Spring Training in 2015.  “As soon as he left, I felt our emotional connection starting to wither,” she said, “You don’t realize it, but you’re putting more and more and more energy into it. You don’t even know why you’re arguing, you don’t know why he’s mad. You’re saying sorry, you don’t even know why you’re saying sorry. You just don’t want to fight.” He stopped answering her texts regularly and wouldn’t answer her phone calls. When they did speak, Reidy said that he “wouldn’t give straight answers about anything”.

“You know when something is off,” Reidy said plainly. “I thought maybe he didn’t like me anymore because I’m pregnant and I didn’t look the way I used to.” Between the trouble in her relationship with Russell and ongoing tension with his family, Reidy found herself stuck in a perpetually overwhelming situation. “I’m surprised I didn’t have a miscarriage. That’s how much stress I felt. My entire pregnancy was miserable.”

Melisa credited the Cubs wives with helping her keep it together. She called them “God’s gift to this earth” and gushes about Mindy Rosscup (“my first friend, she’s like my sister”) and Jess Bryant, who was actually there to watch Melisa give birth to her son. Alone in Chicago and far from family for the first time, she was truly grateful for her new family away from home. Unfortunately, Melisa discovered that even when Russell was back, she still felt alone.

His family was still a source of conflict. Reidy was particularly hurt by something that happened in May. Addison’s mother drove out to Chicago to see Mallory, the mother of Addison’s daughter Mila. “She brought Mallory to the game…the wives were there with me, they knew it was a hard situation,” Melisa said. “His mom was talking about me the entire time and all the wives were hearing it.” Her friends advised her to be the bigger person, and she decided to shake Mallory’s hand, be cordial, and go back to her seat.

She told Russell about the incident, saying it was embarrassing for them to have other people’s wives hear his mother talk about his pregnant fiance right as he was being called up. It wasn’t a great first impression.

One thing that Russell’s mother said that day stuck with Reidy: “Don’t worry, she’s not strong enough. She won’t last long.” Reidy explained that his mother had been at the game telling Mallory about how it was inevitable that Addison and Melisa would break up. Later, while describing a painful episode with Addison that left her struggling with whether or not to leave, Reidy mentioned the quote again, believing it meant that she had to stay, even if it was just to prove his mother wrong. “I was like, no, I am strong enough. Because I always remembered. It never left my mind. I felt like I had to prove I am strong. I had the wrong perspective. You’re not weak for leaving, but I didn’t see it like that then.”

When asked about early red flags she noticed, Melisa was struck by the time when Russell developed a habit of trying to make her trip since she had become pregnant. When they would go out for walks, he would jut his foot out or attempt to trip her some other way. One time, she finally asked what he was doing. She said Russell was nonplussed and told her he thought it would be funny. Reidy wasn’t laughing, and she said that got him mad. Reidy remembered hearing him saying, “You’re athletic. You’ll catch yourself. I just wanted to see if you would catch yourself!” Reidy was stunned that his idea of humor seemed to be trying to prank his heavily pregnant wife into falling over.

It was only a week after Aiden was born when Reidy found out that Russell had cheated on her again. “I had to drive myself home from the hospital. I had the baby blues, feeling horrible, and then boom. Your soon to be husband is cheating on you.” She stopped talking for a moment. She explained that sometimes she goes into a daze trying to talk about it all. “That’s the first time I tried to break it off with him. That’s the first time I actually saw him act insane, out of his mind. It sounds stupid, but I actually felt bad for him.” She explained that she didn’t want to see him hurt, so she just forgave him, hoping to calm him quickly.

“He did not have one lick of patience for me. By the time I had Aiden, he was having to really force himself to be patient. I could see it, he would almost snap, but he was trying to control it,” Melisa said of Addison’s demeanor. Did things get better when they settled in after Aiden was born? Reidy shook her head. “That’s when it started to go downhill. And I mean fucking fast.” She and Russell continued to argue, but he began to escalate their arguments into physical confrontations.

“He would just get more aggressive, cornering me by the wall, and yelling in my face while I’m holding Aiden. Sometimes he would be taking Aiden out of my arms.” She stopped for a moment to point out that clearly, she wasn’t interested in playing tug-of-war with her two-month old. “So,” Melissa continued, “Aiden’s screaming and Addison doesn’t even know how to calm him down. Aiden is scared. He feels that. Babies feel tension.” Melisa said she plead with Russell to give him back until he finally relented. From then on, Reidy felt like they bounced back and forth between “a good three days, bad three days, a good week, then a really bad week”. She said it would remain that way for the rest of their relationship.

“This was our entire relationship after I became pregnant with our son Aiden. Before then he was always very sweet and understanding. He always put in 100% to prove to me he was worth marrying & he did it well, I fell for him fast. I never thought he would have become the person I know him to be now.”

She described the night before their wedding as “horrible”. A friend even reminded her that she didn’t have to get married, but Reidy was convinced she was in love. They were just going through a lot. Melisa was still adapting to life in the baseball world, having a newborn, and having to continue to spar with Addison’s family. When they finally got married, she said that while “everybody cried”, she was too emotionally drained for tears. By then, Melisa was just happy to get it over with. They didn’t go on a honeymoon, as Russell had to be back in Chicago for Cubs Convention.

Just days before Spring Training in 2016, Aiden was diagnosed with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus, a mild respiratory illness that can be serious in infants). He had to stay in the hospital for days. It was a challenging experience for Reidy, who continued to find Addison absent when she needed him most. “My baby is hooked up to oxygen and a feeding tube. I need your emotional support. I need you to be there,” She remembers telling Addison. When he finally arrived, Reidy said he just attempted to convince her to have sex with him in the hospital shower. (“In the hospital room with our son in the hospital bed? Why is that on your mind?”)

The first incident of physical abuse that Reidy can recall occurred when the two of them went out with the team and their wives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Reidy says it started with him yelling at her at the club, allegedly for sitting towards the crowd with her “legs wide open”. She rolled her eyes as she gave his reason, “because I would totally do that in a dress, in front of everybody? None of that happened.” When they got back home, after the babysitter left, Reidy says he began to yell at her again. She trusted her instincts, retreated to the guest room, and shut the door. She prayed he would just calm down.

He didn’t. “He kicked the door down and ripped Aiden out of my arms,” Melisa described the horrifying scene. She said she followed him around, begging him to give Aiden back. “I don’t think he’s going to hurt Aiden, but he’s drunk…” She said. “Honestly I’ll never forget that. That feeling was like when your dad yells at you when you’re a litle kid. Right away, you’re like….fuck! I’m about to get a spanking!” She shivered. “It’s probably the scariest thing as a kid to feel. That’s basically what I can relate it to.”

Reidy said Russell had their son in one arm, and grabbed the front of her shirt with the other, throwing her across the room and onto the ground. “I was this close to my head hitting the coffee table,” she explained, “I just sat up and looked and he closed the bedroom door and had Aiden in there.” She waited, then retrieved Aiden as soon as she heard Russell go out on the balcony. She woke up the next morning to Addison in bed with she and Aiden. Reidy said for some reason, she was the one who felt like she had to apologize.

When he came home, Reidy said he blamed her for the fight, then threatened to send she and Aiden home from Arizona. She specifically remembered him telling her she was an embarrassment. “From that day on,” Reidy said, “I walked on eggshells.”

One Christmas, they argued after he said something she described as “insulting and disrespectful” and “embarrassed” her in front of her family. After an argument, she left the apartment in exasperation with Aiden and got in the car to drive away. “He was hitting the car. I thought he was going to break the window at one point,” Reidy said. She drove to a friend’s house and they asked her what she doing with him. “I’m like, I don’t know but what am I supposed to do? What do I do?”

Melisa said Russell also had a habit of breaking her phone when he was angry with her. She mentioned two specific incidents. In the first, he taunted her about trying to plan their wedding without it. The second time it happened, he tried to replace the same phone he had destroyed as a Christmas present. Reidy became suspicious of gifts from Russell early on. When he offered to buy her a car after Aiden was born, she didn’t want any part of it. “I didn’t want anything to do with it because I knew he was gonna hold it over my head.”

Melisa felt that Russell held his wealth over her head for the majority of their relationship. “He always told me, I have the career here, not you. I make the money. What do you do?” In reality. Reidy gave up a lucrative career and life because she was in love with Addison. She describes their financial arrangement as her having a separate card that he deposited money on once a month. She was expected to use that allowance for herself and Aiden.

Melisa had no access to his money and her allowance was expected to cover diapers, wipes, food, travel, hygiene, and household goods. In one vexxing situation, Reidy described using her “allowance” to purchase items for a gift basket that the Cubs planned to auction off for charity.” There were other things too. Reidy said when they would go out to eat, he would always end up angry. Most of the time, he stormed out and left her with the bill.

The day after Aiden’s first birthday, Reidy recalled Russell being unusually unkind to her. He had been trying to call her while she was sleeping. When she got in touch with him, she said he just started cursing her out. “He kept saying fuck you, you’re a fucking bitch, you don’t fucking deserve me,” She said she had to beg Russell not to cancel her flight to Los Angeles so Aiden could see him during the Cubs series against the Dodgers. Going to Los Angeles turned out to be, to quote Melisa, the “worst trip ever.”

The day she arrived, she “saw stuff on his iPad” that made her realize that he had been unfaithful again. It was even more painful, as Melisa recognized the woman as someone she considered to be a very close friend. She still had to fly back on the Cubs’ plane with Addison, despite the fact that they were no longer speaking. She said she was sitting with Aiden near the window when Russell came over, grabbed her leg, squeezed it, and started to whisper in her ear. “He was like, if you don’t fucking act normal right now, I swear to god, I’m going to embarrass both of us on this plane,” She said he continued, “Do you really want that? Do you really want me to embarrass you in front of everybody? Act fucking right. Act like I’m your fucking husband. Treat me like I’m your husband.” An exhausted Melisa said she just asked him what he wanted her to do. His response? “Talk to me. Turn around. Look at me. Sit closer.”

Melisa didn’t share that part of her life with anyone at the time. Her closest friend wasn’t there anymore because her husband was traded to a different team. She also felt people distancing themselves because they didn’t want to be a part of any “drama.” When Melisa noticed the chill, she responded in kind. She thought she’d “bothered them enough” and felt embarrassed that she didn’t know what to say. “You go to the field and you see everybody happy together with their kids…why can’t we be that family?” She asked, to no one in particular. “You grow up, you find someone that’s your companion in lif, and you do life together. You have a family. That’s what I wanted, that’s what I thought I’d found.”

One of the worst incidents that she could remember with Russell occurred after she went out for a “girls’ night” with a friend. Reidy said he came to find them and immediately said they were going home. Once in the cab, Russell begun to yell at her in front of his friend, Melisa’s friend and the taxi driver. Melisa said she just told the cab to stop so she could get out and walk home.”

“I was crossing the street when I saw Addison coming out of the taxi. You know, you just know….” She trailed off, but continued, “he just starts running towards me.” Her fight or flight instinct kicked in and she took off running. “He slips…which pisses him off even more. I remember him gritting his teeth. So I just try to run. And then everything kind of went sideways.”

“He slammed me into concrete. I mean he football tackled me. Our friends were there and they watched it. I was down on the ground, he was on top of me. He started yelling in my ear, saying, “You like doing this to me. You push my buttons. Do you like it when I get like this? Do you like doing this? You like pushing me to the point where I have to act like this.” It was a long time after that when Russell attempted to make an apology. Reidy says he told her, “I would never really hurt you, I just needed to get your attention because you weren’t listening to me.”

“He rarely said sorry. It took me coming to him apologizing for what I didn’t even know I was supposed to be sorry for, just to have some peace between us. I couldn’t live miserable everyday fighting for him to see my point and how he was hurting me. I came to the conclusion that no matter what I said or how much I tried to explain my side or how I felt, he wanted the last word & wouldn’t stop until I admitted he was right. I was the problem. If I would just listen to him, we wouldn’t fight, he wouldn’t get mad at me. He wouldn’t have put his hands on me. It was my fault. I pushed his buttons.”

Millions of Chicagoans were elated to kick off a months-long celebration of the World Series win, but the win turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing for Russell and Reidy. “We won the World Series. From then on, he literally saw himself as a god,” She said. “His attitude changed so much.” It got to the point where none of Melisa’s friends wanted to go out with them anymore, because he would always “do something crazy and ruin the whole entire night”. While everyone else celebrated and attended lavish parties all over the city, Reidy just reflected on how things completely fell apart after that.

She described Spring Training in 2017 with one word: “horrible”. She had come to feel like she was living with a stranger. When Aiden wanted to play, Reidy was beckoned to come get him so he wouldn’t disturb Addison. “It got to a point where I just completely lost my voice. I was literally invisible. He would come home and see through me,” She said. She started to suspect he might be hiding something again after catching him being dishonest about a pair of headphones.

When cleaning around the house, Reidy had found a pair that weren’t compatible with the phone he had. According to Melisa, Addison brushed it off and claimed they belonged to a teammate and that he’d just grabbed them by accident. In an attempt to be helpful, Melisa reached out to the teammate’s wife and offered to bring back the air pods. It was clear she’d been lied to again when she was told that the headphones didn’t belong to her husband. Something had to give. In mid-April, it finally did.

One night, she called Russell and he wasn’t picking up. It had been months by now of her being held hostage but his failure to communicate with her in a healthy way. “I just had a really bad feeling. I actually asked God, just please just tell me what to do. I can’t live like this anymore.” Eventually, she fell asleep, but woke up with a jolt in the middle of the night. “This will sounds really crazy, but something inside me just told me to text him,” Reidy said.

Trusting her instincts, she sent him a text that simply said, “I know everything” at 3AM in the morning. That got Russell’s attention. “He was blowing up my phone, immediately.” She observed. “I didn’t text back right away and he literally just started telling on himself. He told me everything in text.” He even offered to go to marriage counseling, something Reidy had been asking him to do for a long time to no avail.

Even though she had gotten the details, it never felt good to have them confirmed. “He had sex with a random girl. He brought some random girl up to his room,” Reidy explained. “He said they didn’t do anything but kiss. Do you think I’m a moron? I was trying to keep my composure because Aiden was there.” I just started my car and drove to the Walgreens parking lot on Halsted and Broadway. Then, I sat there in my car and I called him.” She said she was angry and at times, felt like she was hyperventilating. In the end, Melisa found that ribs being sore for days afterwards from how violently she had sobbed.

The next morning she had to take Aiden to a doctor’s appointment. Reidy’s friend Carlie went to the apartment she shared with Addison, packed up all of her things, and put them in the Jeep. Melisa booked a flight for her mother and Aiden to fly home, and then she and Carlie drove the 14 hours from Chicago to Florida together. “It was just good to clear my head, it almost felt like I could breathe,” she says. “I never felt so relieved as I did driving away.”

Her relief was short-lived. Reidy was pressured to return to Chicago in May after Russell insisted he wanted to see his son. She wanted to see Aiden’s half-sister Mila for her birthday. Additionally, Melisa figured it was an opportunity to see if he’d meant anything he’d told her about how he was trying to change. It was fine for “the first two days”, and then things went right back to how they had been before.

“He said something rude to me, and I responded, what, do I look like a maid or something?” She was sitting on the couch texting at the time, which seemed to upset him for some reason. She remembered the kids were playing on a small trampoline by the TV. “He walks over and grabs me by my throat and pins me up against the couch. He’s like, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” I had to pull my knees up and push him off.”

Reidy said she went to the bedroom to remove herself from the situation and Russell followed her, closing the door behind him. “He’s yelling at me and then he literally bowed up with his arm pulled back!” She stopped for a moment to collect herself. “He bowed up his arm and I was like, you know what? Go ahead. Fucking hit me and it’ll be the last time you ever put your hands on me.” Russell backed off, and Reidy believed that he knew she wasn’t scared of him anymore after that.

The night before she went back home, after a contentious marriage counseling session earlier in the day, she tried to end things with Russell on a civil note. “Do you understand that you scare me?” Reidy remembered calmly asking him. “You do not make me feel safe. I feel like you are going to hurt me. You’re my husband, I’m supposed to feel safe with you. You’re the last person on earth I’d want to be alone with.” Russell didn’t accept that, Melisa explained that Russell insisted she just needed more time to move past it.

They had a second marriage counseling session scheduled in June in Chicago. She flew out, but instead of going to counseling, she made an appointment with a lawyer. She said Russell was furious, texting her about how it would be the “biggest regret of her life” and suggested she sell her ring to pay her lawyer. Even her lawyer told her if she waited a few months longer, she might benefit more financially in the end. Melisa had her mind made up, she didn’t have any interest in sticking around any longer than she already had. “I might be in a casket in two months,” she told him. “You could not pay me enough.”

“Thinking you are going to spend the rest of your life with one person, expecting your future to always be with him, & then you find yourself alone, a single mother, jobless, literally fighting for everything you have including your son, trying to keep your sanity, is the hardest thing I have ever experienced.”

Reidy said the last time spoke to Russell about their marriage, considered working things out, or saw him in a capacity unrelated to their coparenting was on December 31st, 2017. He was able to convince her, even then, that he was truly interested in changing and that his apologies were genuine. His alleged manipulative faux-sincerity is part of what makes Melisa continue to doubt the sincerity of his public apologies.

“He was on his knees, bawling his eyes out, telling me how he ruined his life and how he lost the best thing that ever happened to him,” She paused for a sip of water. “He actually made me believe he was sorry, just saying all the things I’d desperately wanted to hear for so long.” She let herself start hoping that he had been for real. Later that evening, she said he told her to go wait for him at home so he could spend time with his friends. “I was so humiliated and I knew I did it to myself,” She explained. “I should’ve known better. When you really have that much love for someone, even when there’s nothing to hope for, you think maybe God can change people’s hearts. You never know.” Looking back, Melisa affirmed that she’s actually glad that it happened. Now she knows he won’t be able to fool her anymore.

It was only after she finally got away from Russell that she began to realize the scale of damage he’d done to her emotionally. “I had to start from the ground,” She said. “I had to accept the fact that my entire marriage, my relationship, everything that I thought it was? It was never that. He was never in love with me the way I thought he was. It was all fake. Everything was fake.” She lived with her mother and shared a bed with her and Aiden initially. Reidy claimed that she had to get lawyers involved just to convince Russell to help her find somewhere to live with Aiden. When asked about her wellbeing as the dust settled, Melisa said, “If someone had asked me what I liked to do in that moment, I wouldn’t have even known what to say.”

She started writing about her experience in journals as a form of therapy for herself. She felt like she didn’t know many people who could relate to her unique situation. Though her family and friends had given her support, she began to worry that she sounded like a broken record. When she began to write her blog, she said she was thinking of all the people out there who don’t have the support system that she had. “They only have the person that’s abusing them,” Melisa says, “and they can’t get out. You’re struck and you’re miserable and that’s not a way to live. It would mean so much if I could help somebody else with my story…”

She was cautioned about what the reaction might be like. She was warned it could affect her “financial future”. At the beginning of September, she told me there was a night where she just couldn’t sleep. So she grabbed her laptop and began to type. “I didn’t even realize when I was done, it was 5 o’clock in the morning,” She said. Despite the rivers of prose, she still hadn’t decided whether or not to post what she’d writted. It had ended up an almost 3,000 word summary of her relationship with Russell. Every time she decided not to, she immediately started the debate all over again.

“I felt that God was telling me, Melisa, this is something you need to do. There is a purpose to your pain, you’re going to help somebody else. You know there’s some people who need that encouragement,” Reidy said. She’s hopeful that a young mother being open about her struggles might help others start to see that it’s possible to leave an abusive situation and build a happy life. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Melisa said she felt strongly that staying quiet was just another way of letting Russell win. “That’s still letting him control me. I’m letting his power take away my voice. He’s still controlling me if I live that way.”

Melisa’s life now is completely different than her life with Addison. She couldn’t be happier about where she’s landed. She’s started focusing on her mental health. She has a therapist now. She’s started seeing someone who treats her well, and whose family she adores. Reidy points out that what she feels right now isn’t similar to how she felt with Addison, and she is very grateful for it. “The love I had for Addison was a toxic love to the point where you completely don’t give a shit about yourself. It’s not healthy. I never want to feel that way again.”

After she posted the blog, it didn’t take long for it to go viral on social media. As of publication, Reidy has not heard from Russell about the post. She did share that someone in Addison’s family texted her to express disapproval at her decision to cut emotional ties and live in her truth. Melisa didn’t respond. Protecting Addison was no longer a part of her life.

“He’s his own person, he needs to take responsibility for his actions. If you don’t want to have that type of reputation and that character, then don’t do what you do. Learn from your mistakes and if you do something to someone, they have every right to talk about it.” Melisa said she continues to pray for him. Her love for her children is boundless, and she says that she has to remember that he’s my son’s father and Aiden will be affected by his actions. She knows one day she will have to have tough conversations with Aiden about what happened. Although it may be emotional to discuss, Melisa firmly believes that sugarcoating it won’t teach him the right lessons.

“I had to make a decision for my son & I. Live miserable to keep my family together, or leave, struggle, but allow my son to have a happy childhood with good memories, instead of him being exposed to his father abusing his mother. I knew it would continue to get worse. It already was. He exposed Aiden to his abusive behavior many many times. I don’t see how anyone can think that is wrong of me to do.”

“As soon as I posted it, I was completely free from any type of control he ever had on me. Anything. I broke every single chain he could ever have to tug on. No one is going to make me feel like I don’t have the right to my own voice. Society makes you feel guilty for standing up for yourself, but standing up for yourself is not being a victim. You are taking back control of your life because of the fact that you’re able to open up.”

Melisa also found a new passion project in her YouTube channel, LifeWithMelis. She started vlogging to connect more with the people who supported her and to be able to relate to people going through what she’d been through, especially young mothers. What is the ultimate goal of her new project? “I want to be able to inspire someone going through a rough patch…I want to be able to reach out and encourage young women and just be a light in this broken world.” It’s safe to say Reidy has already inspired many with her truthfulness, sincerity, and empathetic worldview.

Melisa Reidy has found her voice again. We can all change the world for the better if we listen to what she has to say.