The tragic story of Jana Kramer’s first marriage

The following article contains allegations of domestic violence.

Jana Kramer is an open book when it comes to her romances and personal life. The former ‘One Tree Hill’ star-turned-country singer regularly lets fans dive into her life via her social media and her podcast, Whine Down with Jana Kramer, where she’s shared some very candid admissions over the years has made. Some of her most shocking admissions related to her previous marriage to Mike Caussin before their divorce in 2021, including opening up about an incident that saw Caussin relapse into his sex addiction. Kramer appeared to suggest during a March 2019 episode that Caussin was dating a woman at a hotel, but she showed up at the location instead.

But while we know a lot about her rocky marriage to the athlete, did you know that Kramer has been married a few times before? The actor and singer was originally married to Michael Gambino in 2004, before resuming the knot with Legends of Tomorrow star Johnathon Schaech for just a few months six years later. It wasn’t exactly the former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant’s fairytale romance either (hence they ended up in divorce papers), but it was her first marriage that was particularly difficult as the relationship was fraught with allegations of abuse.

Jana Kramer experienced domestic violence

Jana Kramer is a domestic abuse survivor and has been very open about her ordeal with her first husband, Michael Gambino, who was 17 years her senior. The star spoke to People in 2016 about what her life was really like during her marriage, when they tied the knot when she was 19 after just two weeks of dating. Kramer stated that Gambino would become jealous and violent towards her, often kicking her out of the house. “He came home at 3am and got me out of bed and threw me on the floor and started screaming and hitting,” she also shared, explaining when she finally had the confidence to tell her left him, he would threaten their dogs.

One of the worst incidents between the two happened in 2005 when Gambino attempted to strangle Kramer before leaving her unconscious in front of her home. “I remember praying that night, ‘Please just take me away, I don’t want to be here anymore,'” Kramer heartbreakingly recalled. Gambino was later sentenced to six years in prison for his abuse.

Speaking to Good Morning America in 2016, Kramer shared that she felt like she saw her dead grandfather as she lay on the ground and asked him to take her with him. She explained that as she watched her whole life unfold, including her funeral, she cried out for her mother.

Jana Kramer’s experiences with PTSD

Michael Gambino died by suicide after leaving prison, and Jana Kramer admitted his death sparked a wealth of different feelings for her. “I felt bad because my first feeling was relief that he was gone. That I didn’t have to worry about him anymore,” she told Good Morning America, but admitted she was disappointed that she couldn’t change things for him. Despite Gambino’s suicide, the star admitted she still suffers from PTSD and panic attacks as a result of his abuse. “I still have this fear when I’m alone, he’ll come to grab me and … throw me out of bed,” she said.

Thankfully, Kramer seems to be on a better path today. In July 2022, she shared that she had decided to go back into therapy. “Focusing on and working on mental health is just as important as physical,” she wrote in the caption of a stunning Instagram selfie, thanking her therapist for helping her find herself again. Kramer proudly showed off her new tattoo of an ampersand in honor of all the work she’s done on herself. “[It’s] my symbol for the healing work I have done and continue to do. You can be happy AND hurt/struggling. It has room for both. They say this is hard AND it will be okay,” she wrote in the caption. “To keep space for both. I’m holding room for you all…AND my story isn’t over yet.”

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).