‘Believe Her’ is an upside-down true crime story of survival
Young mom, Nikki Addimando, shot her partner, Chris Grover, in 2017. Nikki was sent to prison for murder, with a sentencing of nineteen years to life, although she claimed the killing was in self-defense. “Believe Her” is an “upside-down” story where survival comes at the cost of criminal behavior and victims are villianized by the justice system, as explored in this podcast series.
Lemonada Media’s “Believe Her” is a true crime series hosted by journalist Justine van der Leun to investigate evidence and explain the case’s intricacies through police audio and details from the trial. In the six-part podcast, you’ll hear that there are several parts to this story, and what is perceived isn’t always true. “Believe Her” explores domestic and sexual abuse, trauma, assault, and how Nikki was impacted. Later on, listeners learn that Nikki’s jail time was shortened by the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. Conversations with Nikki will be featured throughout the podcast.
Episode one unpacks the night of Chris’ killing, following Nikki to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in upstate New York. By the second episode, listeners hear how Nikki and Chris met at Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics Studio. Justine visits Poughkeepsie, New York to speak with the couple’s friends and family for insight on how their relationship appeared to go from loving to abusive.
Justine interviewed one of Nikki’s childhood friends who observed the abuse Nikki suffered firsthand, and weighed in on the trauma cycle she noticed. Elizabeth said Nikki had been in a potentially volatile situation with Chris for years, and received a call the night Nikki killed Chris, saying he was armed and dangerous. Elizabeth accompanied Nikki to the police station with her two kids.
With “Believe Her,” Justine’s reporting is bringing awareness to domestic abuse issues such as those faced by Nikki, and asks critical questions like how we can end cycles of violence. In the series, Justine states: “Nearly half of all female murder victims in the US are killed by intimate partners. But what’s just as shocking is what can happen when a woman doesn’t die — when she fights back.” Can the justice system ever provide enough support to victims and bring necessary justice?
Nikki was interrogated by police, and we hear actual audio from the conversation. The police asked Nikki to tell the story backwards, so she said she shot Chris and he sexually assaulted her that night, among other details.
In episode three, listeners learn about Nikki’s history of abuse and shame from childhood, but these were considered “bad facts” and helped prosecutors build a stronger case. Listeners will also hear from community members in the bonus episodes, released to subscribers.
New episodes of “Believe Her” are updated weekly. It’s a riveting listen. Tune in wherever you get your podcasts.