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A story of two sisters and unspeakable abuse

This past Jan. 4, Nicole Addimando, a 31-year-old mother of two better known as “Nikki,” was released from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, in Westchester County, NY.

She had served seven-and-a-half years of a 19-years-to-life sentence on charges of second-degree murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend, Chris Grover, the father of her two children.

A popular gym instructor on the outside, behind closed doors Grover was a monster with a fetish for spousal violence and sadistic torture.

Addimando during a pretrial hearing for her murder case in 2018. Nina Schutzman/Poughkeepsie Journal

Addimando won her freedom as a result of New York’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act.

Passed in 2019, it authorizes sentence reductions when abuse was a significant contribution to the crime.

In this case, the abuse was so significant that Nikki fatally shot Chris on the night of September 28, 2017, in their modest Poughkeepsie, NY apartment.

During the course of their seven-year turbulent union, she had suffered “unthinkable violence behind closed doors,” according to Nikki’s older sister, Michelle Horton, in her disturbing new book, “Dear Sister: A Memoir of Secrets, Survival and Unbreakable Bonds” (Grand Central Publishing).

Over the years, Horton writes, she had seen evidence of Nikki’s abuse, including increased visible bruising across her body.

But Nikki would cover them up, blaming the markings on routine accidents.

Horton fell for the excuses.

But it was only after Nikki pulled the trigger that she truly learned the extent of her sister’s misery. 

At one point after Grover’s death, an angry Nikki confronted Horton, saying that various people had helped her survive her living hell, and asked, “But where were you?”

Nikki fatally shot Chris Grover on the night of September 28, 2017, in their modest Poughkeepsie, NY apartment.

“I’m sorry I didn’t see it,” Horton sadly and starkly writes. “I felt embarrassment flood to my face.”

The abuse Nikki, the mother of Ben and daughter, Faye, suffered at the hands of their father seems unimaginable.

But Nikki had been abused sexually long before Chris entered the picture, her sister reveals; first at the age of five, and again at the beginning of her relationship with Chris by a maintenance man in her mother’s building.

In her book, Horton discloses that Chris repeatedly burned Nikki’s vagina and genital area with a spoon he heated over the flame of their gas stove when she was pregnant with Faye. 

Supporters of Nicole Addimando gathered outside of the Dutchess County Courthouse prior to Addimando’s sentencing on February 11, 2020. Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Along with the sexual torture, there were multiple bruises, black eyes, bite marks, as well as strangulation marks around her sister’s neck.

Chris had assaulted Nikki sexually with a gun, and strangled her with his bathrobe belt until she almost passed out, according to a report in the New Yorker.

Moreover, Chris had become obsessed with porn, so much so that sadistic videos he shot of Nikki were discovered on an online porn, his wife “tied up with zip ties, blindfolded and raped.”

Chris had even constructed homemade sex toys, including one used on Nikki as a mouth gag.

Author Michelle Horton details her sister’s horrific plight in a new book.

According to Horton, a New Hyde Park detective who had been contacted by an advocate from Family Services had wanted to make a case against Chris.

But Nikki was too frightened to sign an affidavit confirming the abuse, fearing that Chris would take away their son, Ben.

The day before Nikki killed Chris, Child Protective Services had visited the couple following up on yet another report of Chris’s abuse, Horton writes. 

The visit had inspired Nikki to finally tell Chris that she was going to “take a break” from him with the children.

“Just let us leave and I won’t tell anyone,” Nikki pleaded with Chris.

But he would have none of it, Horton writes. 

He loaded his handgun while Nikki watched in horror and listened virtually frozen as he showed her pictures on his cellphone of how he would shoot her in her sleep to make her death look like a suicide.

Horton details her sister’s ultimate path to survival in her book.

Chris pointed the gun at her, but Nikki kneed him in the groin and the weapon fell to the floor where she retrieved it.

All the while, Chris was demanding she give the gun back to him, while telling her he would kill her and the children.

At that moment, the distraught Nikki lunged at Chris, pointed the barrel against his head and fired. 

“I don’t know what else I could have done,” Nikki later confessed to her sister. 

At her trial, says Horton, Nikki was “slut-shamed” by a prosecutor who shockingly believed she was a willing participant in the torture and faked her injuries.

Addimando would cover up signs of the abuse.

Horton blames the trial judge and the judicial system — that she asserts, “criminalizes survivors” — of her sister’s initial sentence.

Horton would be Nikki’s champion every day of her incarceration, including caring for her children, and would launch a fight to bring Nikki home, “squaring off against a criminal justice system seemingly designed to punish the entire family.”

Through the Nicole Addimando Community Defense Committee, Horton continues to speak out for her sister — now peacefully at home raising her children — along with other victims of domestic violence.

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