Domestic Abuse Survivor Finds Happily Ever After with First Responder Who Saved Her Life: 'He Loved Me Through It All'
"Life and love after abuse is possible," Melissa Dohme tells PEOPLE
Melissa Dohme never thought she’d find love again after being stabbed 32 times by her ex-boyfriend in 2012 near her home in Clearwater, Florida.
“I didn’t even want to open my heart up to anything,” Dohme, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I was afraid, but then I met Cameron.”
Dohme and Cameron Hill, an emergency worker who helped carry her battered body from an ambulance and into a helicopter for lifesaving treatment on the night of her stabbing, connected about 10 months later at a luncheon in her honor. After four years of dating, the unlikely couple tied the knot on March 4 during a gorgeous ceremony at The Lange Farm in Dade City, Fla.
A smiling Melissa, her last facial nerve reconstructive surgery in the books, said “I Do” in front of 200 friends, family and six of the firefighters, EMT and doctors who also helped save her life.
“It was a full circle moment,” says Dohme. “I spent the worst and the best day of my life with Cameron.”
“It was beautiful,” Hill, 42, tells PEOPLE. “I married the girl of my dreams.”
Dohme and Hill say they never expected to fall in love — it “just happened.”
“Her strength was unbelievable,” says Hill. “That was the first thing I fell in love with.”
For more on Melissa and Cameron, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
“It’s unbelievable where my life’s come from and where I am now,” says Dohme. “For so long, I felt when looking at myself, that I wasn’t myself and I always had something wrong with me. I didn’t want people to always have to give me sympathy or anything like that.
“Cameron was so great, he would always just be there for me I think in every way, even if I was really upset or had a really rough day.”
The two quickly became inseparable and in 2015, Hill proposed to Dohme at a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game after she threw out the first pitch.
“He’s my best friend, we’ve been such a team through [my healing],” says Dohme. “I wouldn’t want to be with anybody else!”
Dohme and Hill’s wedding was “like a fairytale” and Dohme says she’s happy, at peace and “so in love” for the first time in her life.
“I just really couldn’t ignore how the crazy feeling inside that this is who I’m supposed to be with,” says Dohme, now an advocate for domestic violence prevention at Hands Across the Bay.
“Life and love after abuse is possible.”