Meljourne Woman (n.):
A woman who turns her pain into purpose by helping others persevere.
#FromPainToPurpose #GotAdversity #MeljourneIt #PerseveranceRedefined
Advocate ~ Author ~ Real Estate Guru
Amy Ballon is a truly remarkable Meljourne Woman! She is a survivor of cyberstalking and intimate partner abuse who was framed by her then-husband as a violent attacker, wrongfully arrested, and charged with second degree felony assault with a deadly weapon. Sadly, after proving her innocence and having her arrest expunged, Amy was horrifically re-victimized by the domestic violence organization she turned to for help. Yet, instead of succumbing to her tragedies, Amy gave her pain a voice! She started a Facebook group called "Raising Awareness for the Innocent" (100,000+ followers) to give other victims a place to share their stories and support each other. She sponsored multiple events for the Innocence Project of Florida. She shared her harrowing journey in her new book"Fabulous to Framed". However, one of the most impactful things Amy has done to "meljourne" her tragedy is to file an unprecedented lawsuit against the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence ~ the organization that victimized her ~ which resulted in its dissolution and ultimately provided more resources and financial aid to victims of domestic violence in Florida.
From Framed To Fearless
It was the fall of 2014. Amy Ballon was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. She had filed for divorce from her second husband months earlier with the hope that they could part as friends. Instead, their relationship quickly deteriorated. In fact, Amy’s husband was so irate about their impending divorce, he installed illegal spyware on her computer and mobile devices so he could monitor her every move after the divorce. Sadly, it would be months before Amy discovered his cyberstalking and his online defamation campaign to ruin her both personally and professionally.
However, while unaware of her husband’s criminal intentions and activities, Amy was still trying to end their marriage amicably. So, when her husband invited her to a final dinner on the night of October 27, 2014, Amy accepted. Unfortunately, “closure” was not on the menu that night. Instead, pleas for reconciliation were served with every course. By dessert, Amy was completely drained. Seeing her fatigue as an opportunity, Amy’s husband made one last request: he asked if he could stay in her condo for one night as his new apartment would not be ready until the following day. Since he had nowhere else to go, and with the hope of assuaging any further unpleasantness, Amy graciously, albeit reluctantly, agreed to let him stay in the guest room. It would be a decision she would live to regret - forever.
It was a brutal ambush. His rage was violent. His plan – as calculated as it was malicious.
When Amy and her husband returned to the condo, Amy went straight to bed. Before turning out the lights, she sent a quick text message to a friend. That was all it took. Amy’s husband, who had been secretly observing her from the bathroom, came flying into her bedroom in a jealous rage! He pounced on top of her, grabbed her phone, and smashed it into her bedside table. As Amy jumped out of bed, he mercilessly tackled her to the floor. She fought desperately to free herself, and then ran as fast as she could out of the bedroom.
Amy’s fight for survival continued into the kitchen. It was a brutal ambush. His rage was violent. His plan - as calculated as it was malicious. With each ferocious slam to the floor, Amy’s body became more bruised. To completely immobilize her, he jammed his knee deeply into her back and pierced her neck with his thumb. The husband who had once promised to love and cherish her forever was now a complete stranger, a deadly assailant, crushing her skull between the full weight of his six-foot, 225-pound body and a cold, unyielding floor. Then suddenly – thanks to a brief moment of merciful lucidity – her husband simply stood up and walked out onto the balcony. Mustering what little strength she had left, Amy got up and ran out the door. Battered and barefoot, she made her way down to the lobby of her building and called 911.
“Oh my gosh! He’s stabbed himself!”
Unfortunately, Amy’s nightmare was about to go from bad to worse. With the police in route, her husband stepped out of the elevator covered in blood from a fresh knife wound to his arm. Holding tightly to the refuge of the phone, Amy screamed in horror to the 911 operator: ‘Oh my gosh! He’s stabbed himself!’ Suddenly, the approaching lights and sirens took on new meaning. Florida, like many states, implements a “mandatory arrest policy” when responding to domestic violence calls. The reality of her husband’s sinister plan hit Amy with a paralyzing blow: he was trying to frame her as the attacker. What started out as a fight for survival had now become a fight for truth and justice.
“I will NOT take a plea!”
In violation of 23 procedures, the police wrongly arrested Amy on Second Degree Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon. It was a criminal charge that carried a 15 year prison sentence. Her friends, family, and legal counsel pleaded with her repeatedly for over a year and a half to accept a deal, but Amy refused: “I will NOT take a plea!” She knew she was innocent. She was the victim that fateful night, and she was determined to prove it. Amy became her own best advocate, and as a result of her courage and tenacity the charges against her were ultimately dropped, and her record was completely expunged.
Amy was determined to save future victims from being exploited by an organization whose sole purpose is to protect them from abuse!
Even though she was officially cleared of any wrongdoing, Amy’s now ex-husband continued to re-circulate previously published stories about her arrest. So, in 2017, Amy was referred to a local domestic violence organization to get assistance in removing that negative content from the internet. A former police officer was employed as the organization’s cybercrime expert, and he was tasked with giving Amy online technical support. Unfortunately, his assistance came at a price.
While working with Amy, the organization’s cyber expert did the unthinkable. He took advantage of her vulnerability as a domestic violence victim, manipulated her trust, and methodically groomed her into a sexual relationship. Shortly thereafter, Amy began noticing unauthorized alterations to her computer files and internet accounts. Out of an abundance of caution, she hired a retired police detective to investigate further. His findings would be shocking. As a result, Amy filed a formal complaint against the domestic violence organization through her attorney. Upon the discovery of additional evidence, Amy subsequently filed a landmark lawsuit charging employee misconduct against the organization. Amy was determined to save future victims from being exploited by an agency whose sole purpose is to protect them from abuse!
Amy’s investigation continued for months. Sadly, a plethora of troubling information would eventually come to light:
Upon receiving Amy’s complaint regarding the inappropriate actions of their cyber expert, the organization failed to notify the police or file a police report despite having evidence suggesting this employee was committing serious computer and internet crimes. The organization also failed to collect and preserve vital computer and online evidence.
This domestic violence organization is a non-profit company with a multi-million dollar annual budget supported almost entirely by public funds - yet they are almost entirely unaccountable.
The annual salary of the organization’s CEO was almost $800,000. This was five time greater than any other domestic violence organization CEO - similar in size and scope - across the United States. Additionally, domestic violence shelters overseen by this organization had been reporting a shortage of available beds for victims in need.
This organization’s staff refused to provide information to women seeking help. Their main office was significantly lacking in administrative policies, and they were not governed by a non-fraternization policy.
The organization did not conduct an extensive background check on their cyber expert prior to his employment. Had they done so, they would have learned he had been forced to resign from his previous law enforcement position for lying during an official personnel investigation, substandard conduct and integrity, and gross insubordination. As a result, he should never have been hired by a domestic violence organization in direct contact with victims.
Today, Amy Ballon is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker, and advocate. Instead of succumbing to the overwhelming pain of her tragedy, she chose to meljourne her experience! Amy is now fighting for domestic violence policy reform in state and federal government. Through her flourishing Facebook group Raising Awareness for the Innocent (which currently has over 103,000 participants) AND her new book “Fabulous To Framed”, Amy is championing the rights of domestic violence victims and innocent victims wrongly accused in the criminal justice system.
"Meljourne-It" Masterplan (n.):
An action-driven blueprint for turning pain into purpose that can be replicated & adapted by others in times of adversity.
Action Step #1
Amy stood in her truth & stayed true to her convictions.
Amy believed that people with nothing to hide - hide nothing. Even though she was facing 15 years in prison if convicted, Amy refused to take a plea. She was the real victim, and she was not going to perjure herself with a lie to the contrary.
Action Step #2
Amy became her own best advocate & took a proactive approach to proving her innocence.
Immediately following her release on bail, Amy assembled the strongest and most highly qualified defense team she could find: a successful and well-respected criminal attorney, a forensic knife expert, and a private investigator. Instead of “living under the radar” as was preferred by her legal counsel, Amy decided to take a proactive approach by setting the narrative for her case. She requested a polygraph so her truth could be presented to prosecutors before they heard the desperate lies of her soon-to-be-ex-husband. She was honest and upfront about her situation with all of her clients. In an attempt to shield them from any negative publicity, she gave them the opportunity to find another sales and marketing real estate company. However, every client stayed with her out of respect and admiration for her candor and integrity in the face of such adversity. As a result of Amy’s proactive approach and active participation in her own defense, her case was dismissed and her record completely expunged!
Action Step #3
Amy focused bother her thinking & her energy on the positive things in her life.
Amy refused to be a victim - to be his victim! While her soon-to-be-ex-husband was busy spreading her mugshot and misinformation around the internet, Amy was staying focused on the good things happening in her life: her family and her career. Instead of succumbing to his repeated attempts at humiliation, Amy was giving television interviews, sitting on expert panels, sponsoring and attending various events, and winning prestigious awards. During this time, she also created a new real estate market; she had her successes detailed in published articles; and she was featured on the cover of two magazines. In the end, Amy’s best revenge was her own success!
Action Step #4
Amy make a conscious choice to turn her pain into a positive, meaningful purpose that could help others persevere through similar adversities.
After her case was dismissed and her record expunged, Amy chose to turn her traumatic experience into something positive. With the help of an advocate attorney, she compiled a list of 23 violations that led to her wrongful arrest, and she obtained the fingerprint report on the knife her husband used to stab himself as it proved he had intentionally framed her. Armed with this new evidence, Amy petitioned the State Attorney to bring criminal charges against her now ex-husband. Today, Amy is using her courageous voice to advocate for better domestic violence laws and to champion the rights of others wrongly arrested and convicted. She recently published a book about her journey called, “Fabulous To Framed”. Amy also started an empowering Facebook group called “Raising Awareness for the Innocence” (which now has over 100,000 members), and she is an active sponsor of The Innocence Project of Florida non-profit organization.