Melissa Pemberton was an athlete and was excelling in her classes, but at just 19 the plans she had for her future were suddenly derailed. 

“I got into a car accident and became addicted to pain meds,” Pemberton said. 

She moved to California and went to rehab to help fight her addiction but soon met a guy who left her in a different struggle for survival.  

“It was great in the beginning, flowers, take you out to dinner, make you feel special like you are on top of the world.   But after about six months I started to see a change.  He kept me away from my family, he kept me away from my friends,” Pemberton said. 

Melissa now wishes she had recognized the warning signs. 

“The alienation almost makes you feel good, because its all about you, you think this person is so into you.” 

Soon she realized it was all part of her abuser’s need to control her every move.  Even going to work at a nearby restaurant would send him into a rage. 

“He drug me out and put me in the car and all I remember is blood splattering everywhere,” Pemberton said.  “That was the beginning of a horrible nightmare for the next six months.” 

The abuse didn’t stop there.  She was raped, her teeth knocked out, her abuser even installed cameras so he could watch her any time he left their home. 

“I felt imprisoned, like he had complete control of my everyday life.” 

Melissa finally convinced him to return to rehab and she made her escape back to West Virginia. 

“I had no self-esteem because you get to the point where you, you just feel like you are not worth anything,” Pemberton said. 

But now, she is no longer a victim and has regained her strength through sharing her story with others, and with a strong sense of faith and family she has found her value and learned to love herself again.  

And through counseling and volunteering with groups like the YWCA Melissa is back on a path to success. 

“It’s about giving back to community and helping other people.  I don’t feel like God made this part of my story to be silent, so my goal now is to help as many people get out of domestic violence or addiction as I can.” 

Melissa just recently bought a home and is excelling as an account manager at a job she loves.  You’re invited to join Melissa and hundreds of other women tomorrow night to help end domestic violence at this year’s Girls Night Out to benefit the YWCA’s Resolve Family Abuse program at the Charleston Civic Center. 

For more information go to  

More Raise Up Your Voice Stories