Brenda's story is told as a part of Sin by Silence, a documentary about domestic violence's absolute worst-case-scenarios where the victims are incarcerated for killing their abusers. The film makes its world television premiere on Investigation Discovery at 8 PM ET on October 17 as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Award-winning director Olivia Klaus helmed the project, which was close to her heart. She started volunteering at the California Institution for Women, the site of filming, about a decade ago. "One of my friends had opened up to me about what was happening in her marriage. I had no idea what to do," Klaus says. "I asked Dr. Elizabeth Leonard (the clinical and forensic neuropsychologist featured in the film) for help, and she told me I needed to meet these women. So, I went to the prison one night."
By that time, Brenda had begun Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA) after hearing whispers of past domestic violence inside prison walls, from the mouths of others with stories just like hers. She started the inmate-led group where victims could share their histories of domestic abuse and help each other cope.
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"I needed to understand the abuse," Brenda says about leading the CWAA. "I wanted a platform so that other women could experience what I was feeling. I wanted them to know they weren't alone."
After one visit with the women, Klaus was hooked. She began volunteering with the group. After a year or two, the women got together and asked her to tell their story.
"How could I refuse?" she asks. "Society had labeled them as killers, but I saw them as survivors. I remember thinking, 'How are these women incarcerated?' I saw my mother, my grandmother, and even pieces of myself in them. In a split second, we could have to make a life or death decision like that. One in three women are abused. It could happen to anyone. 5 Celebs Who Overcame Domestic Violence
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"Before 1989 there was no support system for women of abuse. Brenda got the courage to start."