Bresha Meadows, 18, says she fatally shot her abusive father to protect her mom, her siblings and herself. The Ohio teen, who was 14 years old at the time of the shooting, says, “He physically abused [my mom], I really thought she was going to die. 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.”
Meadows claims that her father had been sexually abusing her since she was 8 and had physically abused her mother for as long as she could remember. She says the last thing that went through her mind before she pulled the trigger was: It’s never gonna stop. It’s only gonna get worse. Although she can’t remember much of what happened after she shot her father, her mother says that she screamed uncontrollably. When the police arrived to arrest her, she was soaking wet, having jumped in the shower fully-clothed in a state of shock after the shooting.
In 2011, Meadows' mother requested a protective order after detailing her husband’s brutality. “In the 17 years of our marriage he has cut me, broke my ribs, fingers, the blood vessels in my hand, my mouth, blackened my eyes,” she wrote. “If he finds us, I am 100 percent sure he will kill me and the children.”
Sharing this story again, because it matters to me. If you didn’t catch it last week, please read <3 https://t.co/scFBTRvo5X— Melissa Jeltsen (@quasimado) October 21, 2019
In May 2017, Meadows pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting her father, Jonathan Meadows, with his own gun while he was sleeping. She was sentenced to a year and one day in juvenile detention. Although her mother calls her “my hero” for allegedly saving the family from endless abuse, her father’s family denies the allegations.
“He was stern,” Jackie Meadows, Jonathan’s sister-in-law, told PEOPLE, “but at the end of the day, he was a family man.”
Last week, Meadows told Fox8 that she had told people about the abuse but “nobody cared,” adding that it pains her to see her father’s family deny her claims. “That hurt me because they knew, people knew,” she 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.”
Meadows says she even considered suicide as a means of putting an end to the 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.”
Bresha Meadows, the Ohio teenager who fatally shot her allegedly abusive father last summer, accepted a plea deal https://t.co/SqU9KkT3NS— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 23, 2017
When she was arrested, 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.’"
Since her release from detention in 2018, Meadows has worked to rebuild her life with the love and support of her family. She recently finished high school with a 4.0 GPA and says she wants to help other domestic violence survivors. “I just want to help people in the same situation,” Meadows told Fox8. “And help myself while helping others.”