Melissa's story: "I lost my best friend"
Note from Carissa Daniels, Campaign Leader: Melissa Sadler is one of the thousands of people from this community who pledged to protect domestic abuse victims during the holiday season. Her story reminds us that being aware and having the resources to call a national abuse hotline for help when violence happens, is critical throughout the year - it could save a life.
"Four years ago, my best friend Amanda Reed was murdered by her abuser"
In 2009 I became pregnant, so I didn't have as much time to spend with Amanda in the months before her death as I usually did. I heard that she had been seeing someone new, but hadn't met her boyfriend Schiller. However, I heard about his reputation from mutual friends – the womanizing, the drinking, the possessive and physically abusive way he treated Amanda.
One night, after my baby was born, I planned a girls night out with Amanda. We hopped on a riverboat to take us down to see a concert. Before long, our great time was interrupted by several calls from Amanda's boyfriend, supposedly "checking in on her." Amanda confided in me that night about her desire to end the relationship.
That night, since we'd had a few drinks, I opted to stay with Amanda at her place rather than drive home. Around 3am I remember hearing some noise outside and got up to see Schiller coming into the apartment (he didn't live with Amanda but had a key to her place). He didn't introduce himself, but immediately demanded to know where Amanda was and who she was sleeping with. I tried to assure him that it was just Amanda in her room, but he still proceeded to barge in and wake her up. That's when I decided just to take off, thinking that I'd catch up with Amanda in the morning.
But when I tried to call Amanda the next day, my calls went straight to voicemail. Later, I found out that night, Amanda hadn't shown up to work, which was totally out of character for her.
They found her on Saturday morning. The coroner's report said Amanda had been suffocated, after being held down with a knee on her back, holding her facedown on the bed. She had bruises all over. Amanda's stepdad called me to let me know what had happened; I was the last one to see her alive.
Schiller was prosecuted, and found guilty of murder in 2010. He was sentenced to 28 years. Turns out that Amanda wasn't even the first victim that Schiller abused – he had a previous history of domestic violence in Wisconsin.
I know that there's nothing I can do to bring Amanda back and that empty spot in my heart will never go away. But I am determined to do whatever I can to make sure that what happened to my best friend doesn't happen to anyone else. That's why I'm encouraging others to break the silence.
Please, don't hesitate to speak up for someone who can't: someone who may be too terrified, or who doesn't see what is happening for the abuse it really is.
A phone call takes a few seconds. But trust me, it could save a life.