"I really thought my mother was going to die," Bresha Meadows told Fox8 of the abuse her mother suffered
Bresha Meadows
Credit: Fox 8

Bresha Meadows, the Ohio girl who was 14 years old when she fatally shot her abusive father, says she had to kill him to survive.

“He physically abused [my mom], I really thought she was going to die,” Meadows, now 18, said of her father, Jonathan Meadows, Fox8 reports. “I was trying to help all of us. Me, my brother and sister, my mom, all of us. I really thought my mother was going to die.”

In May 2017, Meadows pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a year and one day in juvenile detention for fatally shooting her father with his own gun while he was sleeping the year prior.

While her mother called her “my hero,” saying she saved the family from a lifetime of alleged abuse, her father’s family denied the allegations.

“He was stern,” Jackie Meadows, Jonathan’s sister-in-law, previously told PEOPLE, “but at the end of the day, he was a family man.”

On Thursday, Meadows told Fox8 she had informed people about the abuse but “nobody cared” and seeing her father’s family speak out against her claims was painful.

“That hurt me because they knew, people knew,” Bresha said. “I really never thought I would go to jail after the shooting. I thought they would understand. It was self defense. Between watching my mom get abused and the sexual abuse, it just kind of you know, was too much.”

Bresha Meadows
Bresha Meadows in 2016
| Credit: GoFundMe

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Meadows says she had also contemplated suicide as an escape from her life of abuse.

“I pictured myself maybe ending up killing myself from depression,” Meadows said, Fox8 reports. “And my mom passing on and my brother and sister old enough to leave, and then it would just be me in the house and Lord knows how that would turn out…It was a lot.”

At the time of her arrest, Meadows’s aunt, Martina Latessa, told PEOPLE, “I believe that she saw this as the only opportunity she had and she thought, ‘I’m free.’ “

The Meadows family, including Jonathan Meadows (back row)
| Credit: Martina Latessa

With that love and support from her family, Meadows has been able to work on rebuilding her life since being released in 2018. She says she is focusing on helping not only herself with counseling and graduating high school, but others by working with domestic violence survivors.

“I just want to help people in the same situation,” Meadows told Fox8. “And help myself while helping others.”

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.