Melissa Dohme Hill met her husband in a fairly unconventional way by most people’s standards.
At 20 years old, the Tampa resident seemed to have everything going for her. She was a straight-A college student with tons of friends, but on the inside she was terrified.
Melissa was in an abusive relationship and didn’t realize it at the time.
“I was young and naive and thought he was just angry and would get over it, so I didn’t tell anyone,” Melissa, now 24, told Yahoo News.
It wasn’t until her ex-boyfriend threatened to kill her that she decided to take action.
In October 2011, she broke up with him and turned him in to the police, who arrested him for battery. She thought that would be it and she’d never see him again, but she thought wrong.
Three months later, on Jan. 23, 2012, she received hundreds of texts and calls in the middle of the night from him and, against her better judgment, she responded. He claimed he needed closure and wanted to come by for a few minutes to give her a hug.
Little did she know that by walking out to his truck, she was entering a danger zone. He already had a switchblade in hand, and when she went in for a hug, he flipped open the blade and started stabbing her 32 times until she was unconscious.
She may not remember anything about that night, but Cameron Hill does. He was one of the first responders on the scene, and as he watched her get airlifted to the closest hospital, he had a weird feeling that their paths would cross again soon.
Sure enough, they reconnected 10 months later, when Melissa was being honored at a luncheon. To her surprise, all the firefighters from the night of the attack showed up.
The couple immediately hit it off, and Hill ended up inviting her to the Clearwater Fire Department for dinner.
“I told myself I was never going to date again,” Melissa said. “I had been through too much, but there was something irresistible about him.”
After they got engaged at a Tampa Bay Rays game in May 2015, a local wedding planner who knew their story offered to throw them a wedding at no cost.
All the paramedics and the trauma surgeon from that infamous night attended their March 4 wedding.
Melissa has become such good friends with the police officer who found her that she asked her to be a bridesmaid.
She has now dedicated her life to advocate for domestic violence prevention and works at Hands Across the Bay, a nonprofit that does just that.
“As much as I wish I didn’t go through what I did, it brought my life purpose and led me to meet my soulmate,” she said.