There’s no such thing as the right time when it comes to opening up about abuse. As easy as it is for some to believe victims should come forward immediately, doing so assumes the world is black and white and that admission and confrontation are easy. I mean, have you seen what happens to people who allege abuse, particularly when it happened in the past? They’re forced to endure a whole new cycle of guilt and shame. No wonder so many keep it hidden for so long.
Melisa Reidy’s reasons for remaining silent about her own abuse were largely about emotional uncertainty, but she was also acting on legal advice.
“Last year, when MLB contacted me, I wasn’t ready,” Reidy told ESPN in an exclusive interview. “I didn’t know what was the right thing to do. I didn’t even believe in myself enough to think I should do that [cooperate]. I just left my husband and all this blew up.
“My lawyers thought I wasn’t prepared emotionally.”
Nearly 15 months after allegations of Addison Russell’s infidelity and abuse surfaced in the wake of Reidy’s since-deleted Instagram post, she felt she was finally prepared. Or at least that she needed to push forward with her story in order to facilitate her own healing and to help others in similar situations.
“It wasn’t sitting right with me,” Russell said of her silence. “I took it upon myself to do what I needed to do regardless what could happen financially. I know that I’m going to be OK. I shouldn’t have to feel like I can’t speak out to help someone else in order to protect someone that hurt me.”
As for the timing, forget about any conspiratorial nonsense involving the proximity to the playoffs. This all started in June of 2017 and, unless I’m mistaken, the Cubs played in the postseason that year too. And with a healthier overall team.
“If I was wanting to be the one to put that all out there, I would have done it a long time ago,” Reidy said. “This is to help others.”
Though she has reiterated that she suffered psychological and physical abuse during her marriage to Russell, Reidy declined to go into further detail in regard to the latter. And she doesn’t have to. She owes the specifics of her story to no one save herself and those with whom she chooses to share it.
Perhaps it’s still too raw to discuss or she’d simply prefer to keep some things out of the light, whether it’s for now or forever.
“Even during our marriage and divorce, he would try to tell me, ‘That never happened,'” she said. “I was like, ‘How are you telling me something never happened when it happened?’ He was trying to convince me that I was crazy.
“I almost started to believe him. People are good at manipulating others. And when you’ve been manipulated for so long, you start to believe the lies. You have to tell yourself you know what is right and what is wrong.”
Russell is currently on his second seven-day administrative leave from the Cubs while MLB investigates the domestic violence allegations against him. He opted not to appeal the leave and the chances are good that he’ll either see it extended again (perhaps multiple times) or will be suspended, either of which would render him inactive for the playoffs.
Though it should go without saying, I’ll remind you again that MLB isn’t operating a court of law and is not beholden to the same standards of due process, innocent until proven guilty, or whatever other judicial conflations are being thrown around. I have no idea what was going on in this marriage and I don’t want or need to know. What I do know is what Reidy has written and said, and I choose to believe her.
All that matters in terms of Russell’s immediate fate is what MLB believes, and signs point to an eventual suspension. Every player who has been placed on administrative leave since the league and union jointly adopted a new DV policy in 2015 has faced a suspension and has accepted it without appeal. The most recent of these is the Astros’ Roberto Osuna, who sat out 75 games this season.
And though Russell has likely played his last game in a Cubs uniform, those worried about his ability to ply his trade for big bucks need not fret too much. Just ask Jose Reyes. Or Aroldis Chapman. Or Osuna. In all likelihood, the Cubs will non-tender their former shortstop this winter, thereby making him a free agent. He’ll then be able to sign as a free agent with any team willing to take him on, after which he can set about pretending this whole thing never happened.
Ideally, Reidy is able to move forward as well. Speaking out is big step in that direction.
“I wanted to help someone else,” she told ESPN. “I knew my words could benefit someone out there. I was able to overcome this at my age. I thought so many women could be impacted by it.