Jana Kramer is finally opening up about her tumultuous first marriage that almost cost her her life.
Kramer has been silent for years about her first marriage to Michael Gambino, a man 17 years older than her, whom she married on a whim after two weeks of dating.
"I met Mike when I was 19 at a Coffee Bean in L.A. He was a smooth talker, very charming, intriguing and obviously older," Kramer told People magazine. "At the time, I liked that. I felt protected."
But soon after their impromptu wedding, Gambino got violent.
"He’d come home at 3 o’clock in the morning and pick me up out of bed, throw me onto the ground and start yelling and hitting," Kramer explained. "Then the next morning he’d be like, 'Hey, baby,' as if nothing had happened."
For more than a year, Kramer hid her abuse from family and friends, covering her bruises with makeup. When she tried to leave Gambino, he manipulated her into staying in the marriage.
"When I said, 'I can't do this anymore,' he sent me a photo of my dogs on the freeway and said, 'I'm going to let them go if you don't come home,'" she said. "He'd kick me out of the house, I'd sleep in the car, and then that next morning, I'd be with him in bed again. My self-confidence went down each time he was abusive."
Finally Gambino was arrested after he choked Kramer and left her unconscious and bleeding outside their home. She says she still has scars from that night. Gambino was convicted of attempted murder and committed suicide two years after being released from his six-year prison sentence.
Kramer said she's speaking out now in the hope that other women will learn from her story.
"I'm so embarrassed and afraid no one will love me because of my past, but I'm ready to put it out there now," she said. "If I can help one person, I’ll be thankful for what happened — and I can move forward."
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