With the Chicago Cubs season ended, Major League Baseball is expected to rule soon on one of its players – Addison Russell. The League launched an investigation after allegations of abuse and harassment from his ex-wife. Melisa Reidy-Russell shared her story with WGN’s Lauren Magiera.
On the way to the 2016 World Series Cubs short-stop Russell was in a slump. For newly married baseball wife, Reidy-Russell, the experience wasn’t what she expected.
“I remember when he hit the home run when his streak finally broken. I was bawling in the stands. Like, ‘Oh my God, thank God, finally. I don’t have to expect him to be grumpy when we go back to the hotel,’” she said. “Everyone thought I was crying because I was happy, but I was crying because I was relieved because I didn’t have to deal with him being in a bad mood.”
It was just over a year ago, when an Instagram post from Florida sent shock waves through Chicago and had Major League Baseball launch an investigation.
A friend of Reidy-Russell claimed some of her happy pictures hid a dark and ugly secret of abuse. Back then, Reidy-Russell refused to cooperate with the League investigation.
Before the 2018 playoffs, Reidy-Russell posted her own blog which led to another League investigation and Russell on administrative leave.
“It felt like the right time. I didn’t even realize, I thought they had another month. Baseball wasn’t a thought in my mind. It was the last thing I was thinking about. I don’t follow sports, I get people have a passion for it, but I’m one of those people who don’t think about stuff like that. I’m not going to apologize for that, I didn’t try to ruin anything,” she said. “I don’t know why it was that time. I was lying in bed, and I didn’t know how I would post it. The thought popped in, got my notes out and started writing. I’m going to post it tonight, I’m going to do it.”
When she spoke to WGN, she went back to the beginning of their relationship.
“He’s nice, super funny, I feel really comfortable, everything clicked. Our personalities were so compatible. He’s really family oriented, and so am I,” she said, “I was like, ‘Wow, this is perfect. I feel like I met my soulmate.’ It was crazy, I don’t think I’ve ever clicked with anyone like that so quick. It was awesome.”
The two were both young at just 20 years old. She said everything was good for a while, but there were some red flags.
There was another woman, already pregnant with Russell’s child. Reidy-Russell became pregnant as well. Even before the marriage, she says life with him wasn’t easy. She said she tried to break it off numerous times.
“I don’t think I can do this. I’m overthinking things and getting in my own head, and he would reassure me. ‘I love you, you’re the one I want, we’re going to get through this’” she said.
Reidy-Russell shared the story of one incident with their son in his arms.
“He had Aiden in his arms and it was really scary and I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it. So, I didn’t do anything,” she said. “What are you supposed to do? I didn’t tell anybody, and I made excuses, and kept making excuses. It was more of you just don’t realize it but you get so caught up in it and you don’t know how to defend yourself. When I tried to explain it how it made me feel, it was because he did nothing wrong, and it was because I did something. Why are you acting like I asked for that?”
The two got married about 10 months before the 2016 World Series.
“The physical stuff wasn’t every day. Or every month. It was just when [expletive] hit the fan,” she said. “Fights started getting worse, he started breaking things. He broke my phone in half with his hands one day over something.”
What happens between two people behind closed doors, is difficult to know. Reidy-Russell said she gave the League texts and pictures. On Wednesday, the MLB found Russell guilty of violating its domestic violence policy. The League suspended Russell for 40 games.
He accepted the decision and said, “I wish my ex-wife well and hope we can live in peace for the benefit of our child.”
She went on to describe other controlling behavior.
“There were times I needed money, and he wouldn’t put anything in there, and I would literally have no money in my account. There was a couple times I had to ask my mom to transfer me some stuff until he was over his power trip,” she said.
She said she hid her pain from her family, friends, and even the wives of other Cubs players. She said some of them knew bits and pieces, but they didn’t know the full story. She said she put on a face.
She said not even the World Series win was enough to stop the violence.
“That’s when another physical, the big one. Physical stuff happened, but I just shoved it under the rug because it was post season and I wanted to enjoy it,” she said.
Still, they were together on the celebration bus as it rode through the streets of Chicago.
“We took a picture with the trophy on the bus, everyone was posting pictures. But he got mad because I was going to post the picture before him. He grabbed my phone and said, ‘Can’t you just wait?’” she said.
The two finalized their divorce in August.
“I get how people could ask, ‘How could you stay with him?’ When you’re in it, you love your husband, you don’t see it from the outside looking in. It’s like you’re blind to the obvious of what’s going on. We’re married, what am I going to do?” she said.
Now she says this time is the right time for her to speak out. She posted a blog to support other women who might find themselves in a similar situation.
“When I wrote my blog and posted, it was because I know how hard it is go to through it and feel trapped and alone. I just know the really dark place. To think there are other women and feel how I did and worse and they don’t have anyone and continuing to live like that. It breaks my heart. No one should live like that,” she said.
She hopes to be a positive voice to other women who she says – like her – need a push to get out, get safe and move on with their lives.
“I’ve come a long way and know there is purpose to our pain, I went through something that was awful, turn a bad situation good,” she said.
Reidy-Russel said that after her decision to speak out publicly, she received hate mail, but also a lot of support.