Domestic Violence Month: A survivor's story

Domestic Violence Month: A survivor's story


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 11:41 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Twenty-year-old Melissa Dohme is a survivor. Her evolving journey garnered national attention, and a year-and-a-half later, remains an inspiration to many.

In January 2012, she stepped outside her mother’s house in Clearwater Florida  to meet Robert Burton Jr., her high school sweetheart of two years.

Towering at 6-foot-4 over Dohme’s 5-foot frame, Burton quickly overtook her, savagely attacking her from behind.

"I was attacked and stabbed by my ex-boyfriend 32 times in the face, neck, arms, hands and shoulders, and it’s a miracle I am still here," said Dohme.

Dohme had a restraining order against him, but agreed to meet Burton because of his incessant attempts to get her attention. They had broken up because he was jealous over her plans to attend college.

One witness made a frantic 911 call. By the time paramedics arrived, Dohme was unresponsive, and blood was everywhere.
"We actually had Melissa die before our eyes a couple of times that night,” said her trauma surgeon, Dr. Jeff Johnson.

“With massive blood transfusions and the care of a lot of people, and the help of the team, we were able to resuscitate Melissa,” he said.

Dohme spent three weeks in the hospital. She suffered from a fractured skull and nose, and lost teeth. The stab wounds left permanent nerve damage to the side of her face.

She made it a personal mission to thank in person, everyone she credits for saving her life. During her visit she was reunited with EMT firefighter Cameron Hill.

He recalled that in his heart, as she lay along the sidewalk bleeding, he knew she would survive.

Dohmer admitted seeing him again, it “love at first sight.”

For over a year, she chronicled her budding relationship online. Pictures on her Facebook and Twitter page included a side-by-side “before and after” picture of her face shortly after the attack, and a picture of how it looks today.

In August, to everyone’s surprise, Burton pleaded guilty to attempted murder just as his case was about to head to trial.

To read more about her story, go to:

Local victim’s advocacy groups like Charlotte-based Safe Alliance have scheduled a number of events as part of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Click on the links below for more information:


Fighting for Women with Fashion

5K Walk/Run

Domestic Violence in the Workplace Summit