At eighteen years-old, during her first weekend away at University, Melissa was violently raped. Over the following year and a half, she struggled to cope with the lingering horrors of sexual trauma and her subsequent psychological breakdown. She combated a loss of identity and memory, fought with her faith, and wrestled with a string of destructive relationships. On her journey through recovery she discovered that her rape had uncovered all the other types of violence lurking in her life and in her past, and that her true journey was her fight to understand her sense of self and of womanhood.
Melissa’s work has been published in Guernica, Fourth Genre, The Colorado Review, The Cimarron Review, The Normal School, The Pinch, Brevity, The Collagist, The Fourth River, and The Baltimore Review, among others. She has had two essays nominated for the Pushcart Prize: "I Was Raped/I Was Battered" at Guernica, and "Blood and Stars" at the Colorado Review. Her work was listed as Notable in Best American Essays 2015 and Best American Essays 2019. She was a nonfiction contributor to the 2015 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She earned her MFA from West Virginia University.