Country music star Jana Kramer is inspiring people on the dance floor on Dancing With the Stars, but the 32-year-old has gone through a series of incredibly abusive relationships. She opened up on this week’s DWTS to honor her daughter, Jolie, a bright spot amidst her dark past.
Kramer endured years of violent abuse from her ex-husband Michael Gambino, and recently learned that her current husband (and father of Jolie), Mike Caussin, has been unfaithful.
In an interview with Good Morning America, she detailed her abusive relationship with Gambino, whom she married when she was only 19 years old. She dealt with mental, verbal and physical abuse, including a particularly violent incident when he threatened to kill her.
“This happened a lot. He would come home from a night out at the club, and literally take me out of my bed and throw me onto the ground,” Kramer told GMA. “He said he was gonna kill me, choked me, did all those things, and I was like, ‘This is it.’”
She hid in the bushes until Gambino left, but when he returned later, he choked Kramer until she was unconscious. “I remember seeing my grandpa,” she said. “‘OK… I’m free. I can go.’ And that’s the last thing I remember.”
Miraculously, she survived, but this near-death experience was the final straw for Kramer. Gambino was convicted of attempted murder and served prison time and committed suicide when he was released on parole. Kramer still suffers from panic attacks and PTSD and is scared to be home alone.
So when she married former NFL player Michael Caussin last year, Kramer thought she had put the abuse behind her. She gave birth to Jolie in January and wrote about their life together.
“The constant variable in all of this has been Mike. He has been insanely caring, reliable, and to see him with our daughter makes me melt. I can’t wait to see the relationship they build and for him to show her how a man should treat a woman.”
But right before Kramer signed on to compete on DWTS, she learned that her husband had cheated on her with multiple women. Caussin has apologized for his actions and is in a Mississippi rehab facility for sex addiction.
“I appreciate the apology because… it has been heartbreaking,” Kramer said. “He is doing all the work that he’s supposed to be doing right now. I don’t know what the future looks like…I am so much stronger than I ever thought was possible. I am worthy of a great love.”