Brenda Clubine met "Mr. Right" at age sixteen. At first, her gut told her something was off, he was a little too old for her—the relationship wasn't a fit. So the couple stopped dating. They moved on...but only for a time.
Two years later, when Brenda was 18, they met again and started a fresh relationship. They got married. They had a son. Brenda thought she knew what real love looked like. But there's a reason for the old saying "Love is blind." When her husband constantly chose her outfits, decided when she could put on make-up and dictated every facet of her life, Brenda believed that was just a part of love.
She missed the important early warnings.
Soon, her husband was referring to her by using ugly names. His hurtful words escalated into physical abuse. Brenda filed 42 police reports. She left her husband 11 times. And she came back 11 times, because when you have a child to provide for, life isn't as simple as walking out and never looking back. She thought she could change him.
She couldn't...but one night changed her life. "I wish I could put into words what it feels like to be so broken that your words and actions don't matter. I'd learned that what I had to say didn't matter," Brenda says. "And six months after he'd beaten me the worst, I knew that if something didn't happen, I wouldn't make it out of the room. I wouldn't be here celebrating my 50th birthday. He told me to give him my wedding rings, because tomorrow they wouldn't be able to identify my body."
In fear for her life, Brenda responded. She hit her husband, a former police detective who was twice her size, over the head with a wine bottle. Then, she ran for a safe place. She had no idea that she'd inflicted a mortal blow. Later, the police wouldn't tell her how her husband had died. She kept asking, and they kept telling her to let them know where she was, they would come get her. Brenda was charged with second-degree murder. She went to trial twice. The first was a hung jury. The second landed her behind bars for sixteen years to life.
"I kept thinking, I needed to protect my life—doesn't anyone want to hear that?" Domestic Violence: Is It Just As Bad When A Woman Hits A Man?