CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) A special week of reports on domestic violence in West Virginia – all part of the “girls night in/out” fundraiser for the Charleston YWCA’s “resolve” women’s shelter.

Two years ago, 13 news anchor Jennifer Abney met a woman named Melissa Pemberton; who shared her story of recovery, and survival. We wondered – two years later – how’s she doing? 13 News Reporter Cassidy Wood went looking for that answer.

“He burnt my apartment down with my two dogs in it. I felt like my soul was taken away.

Melissa Pemberton

Stuck in a relationship, where you’re completely controlled by another person – mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Pemberton goes on to say, “After living on street after street, hotel room after hotel room, I convinced him to go back to rehab because he relapsed to.”

They say the first step is the hardest step, and for Melissa Pemberton that step required courage, hope, and strength. Now, back in West Virginia after suffering years of abuse, Melissa is happy, healthy, and surrounded by a community which lifts her up.

You know I had to gain that confidence to be a strong woman and realize I deserve the best. I deserve somebody to be a partner, I deserve somebody to lift me up and to push me to be the best I can be and not control me and every move I make.”

Melissa Pemberton

Melissa is sharing her story, again; and will keep sharing it, to help other young women going through a similar life-threatening situation. “If we can just help one person, and change one person’s life, to me it’s worth telling my story and sharing hope with other people.”

Melissa goes on to say, “I know with COVID-19 it’s even scarier, because you’re more surrounded around that person but help is there. I know the YWCA has a hotline where you can email, you can text message, so there are resources available and you are worth it.”

She is encouraging any woman or man who is being taken advantage of by a significant other to call YWCA.

“And you need courage to take the first step. You are worth a whole different life. And it may not be easy, it may be scary – but I’m telling you, it’s worth it.”

If you are in a situation like Melissa’s, as she said, the YWCA is here for you. We encourage you to call that hotline at 304-340-3549.