YouTube/Good Morning America
Because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, country star Jana Kramer has used this opportunity to tell her heartbreaking story about overcoming an abusive relationship.
Kramer, who is competing on the current season of Dancing with the Stars, first revealed her first husband, Michael Gambino, was abusive towards her in an interview with PEOPLE on October 5. They married in 2004, just two weeks after a chance encounter at a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles.
“I felt protected,” she once said of Gambino, who was 17 years her senior.
Shortly after they were married, Kramer saw his true colors when he began to abuse her.
“He would come home from a night out at the club and literally take me out of my bed and throw me on the ground. He said he was gonna kill me, choke me,” she told Good Morning America on Tuesday (Oct. 11).
On what is probably the scariest night of her life, Kramer details what was going through her head as Gambino was choking her, almost to death.
“My grandpa has always been my angel,” she says. “I remember praying to him saying, ‘I don’t wanna be here anymore because I don’t know how to get out of this situation. If there is a happier place, let me come to you. Either save me, or take me from this place so I don’t have to be here anymore.'”
After she prayed to her grandpa, she saw her life flash before her eyes.
“I see my mom, I see my funeral, I literally had that flash of my whole life. I remember I screamed out my mom’s name and that’s the last thing I remember,” she says through tears.
Kramer reveals the abuse began verbally then he moved on to hitting her and giving her bruises on her arms and black eyes. He would manipulate her to make her think it was her own fault, which is why Kramer is speaking out now. She doesn’t want any victim of domestic violence to think it is their fault whatsoever.
Gambino was convicted of premeditated attempted murder and served five years before being released on parole. She lived in fear he would find her again until she got a phone call saying he committed suicide.
“I felt bad because my first feeling was relief that he was gone. That I didn’t have to worry about him anymore,” she said.
She ends the interview saying, “I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was…and I know I am truly enough, just me.”
Watch the emotional interview below.