Dohme was stabbed 32 times by an ex-boyfriend. He always said he would kill her
if she tried to leave. Melissa refused
to give up and has a message for her attacker. "Here I am. I'm beautiful and you didn't win."
Melissa Dohme, 20, was a young woman
with big plans and a bright future. She was
studying to be a nurse, volunteering at a local hospital and planning a
backpacking trip to Europe when a brutal attack changed the course of her life
surgeons worked on Melissa for five hours before they could stabilize her. Because of the multiple stab wounds, her
blood was leaving her body so quickly and couldn't get to her brain and vital organs. She flat-lined twice.
Dr. Jeffery Johnson, a former trauma surgeon
in Afghanistan, said he hadn't seen such injuries since the battlefield.
hours after the attack, police found Robert Burton. His vehicle was found crashed into a
Burton, who had ingested a
number of sleeping pills in a suicide attempt, was found slumped over the wheel
with the car still running. The right
wheel of his truck kept spinning until it ground through the pavement.
physical wounds began to heal, Melissa's determination and inner strength
helped her to heal emotionally. She
learned to walk again and went on the backpacking trip to Europe she had
planned before the attack.
hearing before the trial, in February 2013, Melissa had to recount and relive
the terrifying night in which she almost lost her life. She says that Robert
stared straight at her and it felt like his eyes were burning a hole right through
Burton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. During her impact statement, Melissa said, "When
you choose to forgive those who hurt you, you forever take away their power and
that's what I'm doing today. Robert, I forgive you for coming to my house and
attempting to murder me."
was so grateful to everyone that helped save her life that fateful night that
she made it her mission to meet and thank them all personally. Here she is with the team from Clearwater
Fire and Rescue.
"I really wanted to meet everybody that I just had to say
thank you. I felt so called to just find every person and let them know how much
they mean to me," Melissa said.
credits another domestic violence survivor with helping her come to terms with
what happened. Audrey Mabrey's husband
bludgeoned her with a hammer and then set her on fire burning more than 80 percent of
and Melissa now work together as advocates.They have teamed up to help other victims of domestic violence at Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay, an organization based in Clearwater, Fla. The nonprofit works to prevent domestic
violence and help families in crisis.
has made a remarkable recovery since the attack that almost ended her
life. She believes that she survived to
help and inspire other victims of domestic violence to speak up and fight back.
"Audrey and I, we want to really change lives, we want to end domestic
violence and end teen dating violence. Together feel like we really are an
unstoppable force, you know, we're ready to change the world," Melissa