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Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell's ex-wife accuses him of physical mistreatment, infidelity in powerful essay: 'It was the hardest time of my life'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Melisa Reidy-Russell, the ex-wife of Chicago Cubs baseball star Addison Russell, is taking back control of her life by coming forward with domestic violence claims against the baseball star.

The pair, who share a 3-year-old son, were in the headlines in June 2017 after she accused the baseball star of cheating on her in a since-deleted Instagram post. In the comments, one of her friends claimed Russell was physically abusive toward her, but Russell denied it, calling the claims “false and hurtful.” When Major League Baseball opened an investigation, Reidy-Russell wouldn’t cooperate. She filed for divorce soon after.

Whereas Russell, 24, told the Chicago Sun-Times in January of this year that he and his now ex-wife have a “good clean relationship,” as far as communication, Reidy-Russell shared a very candid personal essay, “You no longer have a secret, you have a story,” in her WordPress blog. It details the physical and emotional abuse she says she endured from Russell, who she started dating when she was 20 and was her “first real boyfriend. She also alleges that the sports star, whom she married in early 2016 (five months after they had their son) and divorced a year and a half later, also cheated on her with “so many different women.”

“Finding the courage to stand up for yourself and take back control of your life takes a lot of guts for someone like me who was in a relationship that [stripped] away … my self-worth & self-respect,” she began. “No one wants to admit that there are serious problems going on in your relationship when you first get married, especially when society expects you to always portray your life to be picture perfect when you are in the public eye.”

Reidy-Russell wrote that the first time she was “physically mistreated by my spouse,” she was in “shock.” But she wondered what she did to trigger it, writing, “Why did he get so angry? What did I do for him to want to put his hands on me?” But “of course I forgave him & assumed it would never happen again. I just thought he had let his emotions get the best of him, he loves me and he’s sorry. I was deeply hurt that he could even be capable of this behavior towards me, I couldn’t understand how the man I was so in love with, the FATHER of my child, the man I married just a few months ago could show such aggression towards me…It tore me apart.” Nonetheless, she “saw a darkness in him I’ve never seen or experienced in him or anyone else.”

She said she started to temper her behavior to prevent him from becoming angry, but the “emotional/verbal abuse,” in which he would “yell and curse” at her, became an “everyday thing.” She wrote, “Being blamed for just about anything that went wrong, name calling, intimidating me with personal force, manipulating me to think I was the problem, destroying my personal things, threatening me to ‘send’ me & our son home to my parents [in Florida] as if I was privileged to be living in our home. Basically, I felt like I was nothing, a nobody & I was nothing without him, & I couldn’t do anything without him.”

She said after his “angry spells” came “sincere apologies” during which he blamed his age (“he was ‘young,'” and “still learning”) and background (“he didn’t have nurturing parents”) for the outburst. “But, somehow he could ALWAYS find a way to make me feel like it happened because of me, or because I wasn’t listening to him. It was ALWAYS my fault. You don’t realize it, but it’s a sick mind game that you get sucked into,” she wrote, noting that there would be “days” he would come home and just ignore her (“I remember crying at his side basically begging my husband to talk to me”).

Infidelity was a huge problem, Reidy-Russell wrote. She says she was “being cheated on with so many different women” while Russell would complain about their post-baby sex life or say she wasn’t adventurous enough in bed. One complaint was that she was not “experienced enough” sexually and he said he wished she had had “more partners before him.” She wrote, “I was 22 years old at the time — we’d been married for about 6 months. My husband was the 2nd man I’ve ever been with. I always thought that would be something for him to be proud of.”

The situation led to Reidy-Russell falling into “depression.” She wrote, “I completely lost focus of life. All I thought about was what can I do to change myself if I’m the problem? What was wrong with me? I used to be everything he wanted, what changed?” She said the only thing “holding me together was my son. He was my responsibility, he needed me to be okay, & mentally stable to care for him.” To help, she hired her best friend as a nanny, but also just to have “around for support. I honestly don’t know what would have become of me if I didn’t have her to lean on during some of the hardest times.”

After she said Russell “betrayed” her “again” in April 2017, it put her “into a rage to finally just leave, enough is enough. I couldn’t … sit in our ‘home’ any longer and fall deeper and deeper into depression.” Her mother and best friend helped her leave. Almost immediately, she felt better. “Removing myself from that toxic environment was like a breath of fresh air,” she wrote.

When he realized she was leaving for good, he “just about lost his mind,” she wrote. He tried to woo her back and a month after leaving, she agreed to visit with their son. “As I expected, our visit was a nightmare,” she wrote. “I swore to myself it would be the last time he’d lay his hands on me & it would be that last time I’d let my son be a witness to it. A week after flying home, I finally made the call and took legal action to start our separation.”

She wrote, “I was so proud of myself for not being afraid anymore, I was free to make my own choices and I was free to live for MYSELF. I was taking back my life. It took months for night terrors to stop, to not have panic attacks 3 times a week, to look in the mirror and not feel worthless. I think the worse part of our separation was learning how to live without him, trying to find myself in the middle of the chaos, I was drowning in pain for months. I was mourning our marriage, the man I thought he was, our family… It was the hardest time of my life. By the grace of God I survived.”

She said she was sharing her story in the hope that it “empowers and inspires other women to stand up for themselves who are going through any type of domestic abuse.” Today, “I am happier than I have been in years” with “the sweetest babe” who is “thriving.” She also has an “incredible” boyfriend, “who is absolutely amazing to my son.”

In her Instagram Stories, Reidy-Russell said she thought long and hard before sharing her story, but said that “lately I have been seeing a lot more of these situations around me, so she thought it was time to speak out. I hope my testimony can touch the hearts that are needing some strength and encouragement.” She later thanked people for their “positive and inspiring feedback.”

(Image: Melisa Reidy-Russell via Instagram)

Thomas T. Field of the Beermann LLP in Chicago, who was her Illinois attorney in her divorce case, confirmed that Reidy-Russell wrote the post. He noted that “she has no further comment at this time.”

A rep for the Chicago Cubs has not yet responded to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment on Russell’s behalf. As of Friday afternoon, the MLB placed him on administrative leave.

In a statement, the MLB says it “takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously.”

“When the allegations against Addison Russell became public on June 7, 2017, the Commissioner’s Office’s Department of Investigations immediately commenced an investigation. Melisa Russell declined to participate in the investigation at that time. Our investigation of this matter has remained open and we have continued our efforts to gather information.

“With the new details revealed in today’s blog post by Ms. Russell, Mr. Russell has been placed on Administrative Leave in accordance with the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy. We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible.”

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