Jana Kramer is slowly healing.
"I’ll never forget sitting in the bushes," Kramer recalled, holding back the tears. "I’m like, 'How the heck did I ... how in the world did I get here?'"
The Dancing With the Stars contestant explained how Gambino would often come home from a night out "screwed up on either pills or drunk," and physically abuse her while she was asleep.
"He would take me out of the bed and throw me onto the ground. I obviously needed to get out of the house," Kramer said about one fateful night, when she hid in the bushes, and waited for her then-husband to leave in his car, before running back into the house to grab her car keys.
"I'm walking out of the front door and I see him. His car was in the driveway and he had his hand behind his back. And I was like, 'This is it ... this is the moment that it's all ended,'" she said
. "I remember seeing my grandpa," whom she had prayed to earlier that evening, as Gambino began to choke her.
"My grandpa has always been my angel, and I remember praying to him, saying, 'I don't even want to be here anymore, because I don't know how to get out of this situation, so... if there is a happier place, let me come to you,” she recalled. “Either save me or take me from this place, so I don't have to be here anymore.”
The last thing Kramer remembers is screaming out her mother’s name. To this day, the 32-year-old star admits she fears for her life. "I still have that fear when I’m alone, him coming to grab me and … throwing me out of bed," she shared.
Kramer married Gambino in 2004, when she was 19 years old and he was 17 years her senior. Since experiencing such traumatic events, Kramer says she suffers from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I didn't feel like I deserved to even have help from the outside,” the Michigan native explained. "The verbal and the mental abuse they give you is almost more painful than the physical because it tears you down even more with the words."
Gambino was convicted of attempted murder in 2005 and sentenced to six years in prison. He was released in 2010 and committed suicide two years later.
"I felt bad because my first feeling was relief that he was gone," she said. "That I didn't have to worry about him anymore."
The One Tree Hill star wed former NFL tight-end Michael Caussin in May 2015 and the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Jolie, in January 2016.
In August, as she prepared for Dancing With the Stars
, ET confirmed she was separating from Caussin
, after media reports surfaced of his alleged infidelity. Kramer, who still wears her wedding band, told ABC News it represents her commitment to her daughter.
"I don't know what the future looks like,” she said. “But I do know that at the end of the day, I'll be strong for my daughter."