Jana Kramer opens up on GMA about the domestic abuse that nearly killed her

Trigger warning for this story and the video above
Last week, Jana Kramer opened up to People Magazine about the horrific abuse she suffered in her first marriage, when she was just 19 and her then husband, Michael Gambino, was 36. Kramer is a country singer and actress who is currently competing on Dancing With the Stars. She almost died at that time, in 2004, when Gambino beat and choked her into unconsciousness. Gambino was found guilty of premeditated attempted murder for that incident and went to prison for five years, committing suicide two years after he got out. In a new interview with Good Morning America, the video of which is above, Jana explained that she’s sharing her story because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s still extremely painful for her to discuss, she broke down in tears during the interview. She talked about having her whole life flash before her eyes and praying to her loved ones while she was being beaten by her ex so severely she thought she was going to die.

Gambino choked her as she tried to fight him off and Kramer began to pray, she said. “I remember seeing my grandpa,” whom she prayed to earlier that evening to take her to a happier place and she thought, “‘OK … I’m free. I can go,'” Kramer added.

Kramer said she saw her mother, her funeral and her whole life flash before her as she screamed out her mom’s name. “And that’s the last thing I remember,” she said.

To this day, Kramer said, “I still have that fear when I’m alone, him coming to grab me and … throwing me out of bed.” She described the reaction as a complete panic attack and said she has suffered from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, since that time a decade ago.

Kramer, 32, said she endured years of domestic violence at the hands of Gambino after their whirlwind Las Vegas wedding in 2004, when she was a 19-year-old rising star.

She said she thought it was truly her fault, which caused her self-worth to plummet as the abuse continued.

“I didn’t feel like I deserved to even have help from the outside,” the Michigan native said.

Kramer shared that many women in abusive situations are manipulated and think they’re at fault, but said, “the truth of the matter is they’re not.”

Gambino had a different persona in public than the one she witnessed at home, Kramer said. She said the mental and verbal abuse from the man no one else came to know was what hurt her most.

“The verbal and the mental abuse they give you is almost more painful than the physical because it tears you down even more with the words,” she said.

Gambino was eventually convicted of premeditated attempted murder and after he served five years in prison was released on parole. Kramer said she lived in fear once he was out, until she received news that Gambino committed suicide.

“I felt bad because my first feeling was relief that he was gone,” she said. “That I didn’t have to worry about him anymore.”

She faced a whirlwind of emotions. “I felt sad that I couldn’t change his life,” she said.

Kramer thought if she’d never met Gambino, “he’d probably still be alive,” which she described as difficult and something she held onto for quite a while.

[From ABCNews.go.com]

That was incredibly powerful, especially when she described how insidious the abuse was, and how it increased gradually to break her down over time. As you’ve probably heard, Jana’s third husband and her baby’s father, former professional football player ­Michael Caussin, cheated on her with multiple women. They’ve since split and Michael has apologized and is in therapy. Jana has said that she’s learned that she’s “so much stronger than I ever thought was possible” and that “I am worthy of a great love and I know that I am truly enough, just me.” I hope she knows that, I hope that she knows that it’s ok to be single and that she learns to be comfortable without being a relationship.

If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship please get help. You can talk to someone 24 hours a day at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They also have text chat services available on their website.

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7 Responses to “Jana Kramer opens up on GMA about the domestic abuse that nearly killed her”

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  1. Sabrine says:

    You date a guy and they show you their best side. The abuse doesn’t start until later in the relationship and it often starts with the verbal put downs. This is a red flag and a good time to leave because the next step is often grabbing of the arms and light slaps. From there it escalates to complete control and violence. They don’t feel good about themselves and it makes them feel in control and powerful to dominate and crush their partner. Leave at the verbal abuse stage and you will be the one in control. Be strong and don’t go back when they beg for forgiveness. You’re not going to change them.

    • Joanie says:

      Wise words, @Sabrine. Both my grandmother and my aunt were in abusive relationships, and this is all true.

    • MC2 says:

      So true & abuse is insidious and escalates. It’s sad that people will hope that it will change after xxx time but always just gets worse. Unless there is some crazy huge (I mean huge) shift then abuse will just keep getting worse & worse.

  2. MC2 says:

    So proud of her for speaking out. No.one.deserves.to.be.abused.

    I am glad she spoke out so that women know that they are not alone, there are resources out there for them and it can get better. There is hope and things can change.

  3. My genuine hope for her is all the healing in the world to help her become whole again. Her picker is clearly off, and watching her video you can see how raw this all is for her. I also genuinely hope she takes the time to love and be with herself and we don’t see an article in a few months about how she found the love of her life to complete her. I think space and therapy and self love is what she really needs right now. It will make her better to herself which in turn will affect her daughter which will then enable her to draw to her a man who is worthy of her love.

    I can’t say confidently that she will do that though.

  4. Laura says:

    I have to admit, I have no idea who she is, but good for her for sharing this terrible story. Hopefully, if more people talk about it, more people will feel comfortable to change their own situations. I wish her nothing but the best, and it sounds like she is on her way.

  5. Minina says:

    I just wanted to add, sometimes the abuse can be imperceptible and you may just think they are typical relationship problems. And then one day you get in a big fight and he punches you and chokes you, that still means he is an abuser. This is what my ex did to me after we broke up and were still living together.

    Sometimes it’s not exactly how people describe where it starts with a push, or a slap. I just wanted to add that because sometimes I feel left out of domestic violence convos because my case didn’t happen exactly as others describe. There’s no occasion where a man should hit a woman.