PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When women are leaving an abusive relationship, it’s the most likely time they could be hurt or even killed by their partner.
Domestic violence organizations say most women will try to leave an abusive relationship around seven times before they’re successful.
“It’s been quite a few years. I’ve been quiet about it because that shame and that embarrassment is still there,” Stephanie Leahy, a domestic violence survivor, said.
It’s been six years since Melissa Bowers was killed.
“It was an ex-boyfriend, and it ended up being over a cell phone, and that’s the last time she met him over a cell phone, and then this is what happened,” Colleen Bowers, Melissa’s mother, said.
Colleen says Jeffrey Maloy stabbed her daughter to death.
“It grows. It starts out small, and then they get more embodied and more violent, but by then, you’re already becoming conditioned,” she said.
“The holes in my wall on a daily basis, the throwing of things, foaming at the mouth, screaming, you know, and the threatening of your family,” Leahy said.
Maloy confessed before police arrived.
“You don’t want to be where my daughter is. You don’t want your family going through what my family’s gone through,” Colleen said.
“He was beyond perfect, honestly. I could drop a remote on the second floor, call his name and he would come upstairs and pick it up. I’ve learned that men who try to control you are usually overly perfect on the outside,” Leahy said.
Melissa’s family continues to honor her legacy by holding an evening filled with music and stories.
“It’s a way to move forward, and if somebody hears this message from me and gets them out of a domestic violence situation… to me, I’ve saved someone and they don’t end up a statistic like my daughter did,” Colleen said.
“And when people were around, it was like a Broadway show,” Leahy said. “It was incredible, and even when I decided to leave or that things felt wrong, and when I said that to my friends and family, I was questioned about it.”
They raise money for The Center for Victims.
“People started to know, and I realized, I’m not saving anyone. I’m not helping anyone. I’m just falling deeper and deeper into a hole that no one understands because now it’s been years,” Leahy said. “No matter how many orders of protection you have, no matter how many complaints you have, if no one catches the person in the middle of killing you, there is nothing anyone can do.”
The funds then help future services needed for victims of domestic violence.
“I would rather be a person who shares their story, and if it helps one person in one family, even if it doesn’t save a life, if it just opens that conversation, that’s the person I want to be,” Leahy said. “Be this change that you want to see.”