My name is Melissa Hernandez, and I am 38 years old. I never thought I would be in this position at this point in my life, but I am. I was married to a cruel and abusive man who destroyed my soul. I endured years of torment at his hands. In July of 2015 we had a baby girl, Adrianna. My husband was disinterested in our daughter but was cognoscent of my devotion to her, and would not physically abuse me in front of her. I continued to suffer in silence until early October. That night, everything changed. My husband became enraged because Adrianna, who was a little over 2, dumped all of her shoes that were in a basket onto the floor, and I had not noticed them on the floor. My husband came home from work and found them on the floor and went into a rage. He started screaming at me, calling me a pig, and words so horrible I can not repeat them. I was afraid this would escalate so I moved to pick up Adrianna and put her in her room. However, before I could grab her my husband scooped her up in one arm and came towards me. He put his other hand around my neck and began strangling me. At this point, I was eye level to my daughter, and I looked in her eyes and she in mine, while my husband was squeezing the life out of me. It is even difficult now to write about this. The terror, confusion, and sadness that I witnessed in her 2 year old eyes as she watched her father 00strangle her mother, was something that I will never forget, and it changed me. This ended tonight. I would never allow this man or anyone else to ever lay another hand on me. I broke free from my husbands grip and called the police. He was arrested and charged with assault and battery, but released later that night. I am sure many of you are questioning why I had not gone to the police earlier or asked for help, but my husband has friends in high places and he had a way of manipulating the situation, and has done so before and I almost lost Adrianna. This time I was granted a temporary restraining order, but knew I could not stay in the house or he would come back and this time he would really be angry. The next morning I packed up my things and took the little bit of money I had saved, and left. I had some friends in Morris county New Jersey so I went and stayed with one of them. She let me sleep on her couch for almost a month. I was able to get a job and save money, I filed for divorce, I was able to get an apartment and things seemed to be turning around. My husband, who is a Colombian immigrant, went back to Colombia. I believe it was to avoid paying child support and to evade his upcoming assault and battery charge. It also meant that I would receive no help or child support from him, which honestly, was a small price to pay for our safety. I made enough money on my own to pay for our rent, our food, our car insurance, and for our basic necessities. Then disaster struck. When I was at work I was called by my daughter's care taker. A stray dog was wondering around the park and had attacked my daughter. I will never get the image of her little bloodied face out of my head. I for sure thought she would be scarred for life. She needed surgery on her mouth, stitches on her face and hands, and wrist. She had an overnight stay at the hospital and we have had multiple hospital and doctor visits. Adrianna is healing beautifully and she will only have a tiny scar on her face. The dog also did not have rabies. I thank god everyday for protecting her because it could have been exponentially worse. Even with my insurance I had almost $8K of medical bills. I exhausted my savings and sold anything and everything that was of value. Since the dog that attacked my daughter was a stray and unaccompanied in the park, there was no one that could be held libel. I had to be out of work, and because I am fairly new, had no vacation days. It all spiraled from there. I became late on my rent payments, my electric bill, essentially everything. I worked extra hours and started to chip away at the debt. Then my car started acting funny and now it will not drive over 45 miles and hour and shakes violently if I get to 45. It will cost me $1200-$1500 to fix, and without my car, I will not be able to get to work or get my daughter to her daycare or her doctor appointments. I have poor credit because of credit cards my husband took out and never paid.
The past few years have been hard for me, but I have never given up and have always maintained a positive and hopeful attitude, but I have to admit that I am becoming a little discouraged. I am in desperate need of financial help to get my car back on the road. I have no family to help me, and my friends are not in the position to help me financially. Receiving the money to fix my car will literally keep a roof over Adrianna and my head, food in our mouths, and will allow me to keep working. I am determined to rebuild my life and raise a strong independent women. I was living like a prisoner for 7 years and now am just beginning to become the women I was always meant to be, and I am trying to teach my daughter how to become a strong, smart, independent and successful women. A women that will understand her worth, and know that she can accomplish anything, but also realize that sometimes we all need a little help, and there are kind people that are willing to help, and want nothing in return.