On October 22, 2008 Brenda Clubine was released from prison after serving 26 years for defending herself against her abusive husband.


She now continues with her advocacy by speaking out about the dangers of abusive relationships in hopes that people will continue to make a difference in the struggle against domestic violence.


"I waited and dreamed for 26 years to once again be able to feel the water on my toes at the beach.


I realize for some that isn't a big deal. But, for the morning after my release it was the most amazing moment I could have had!"

I AM FREE, I AM GRATEFUL, I AM HUMBLE!

1403526_10151920437791355_1875372976_oOn October 22, 2013 I celebrated my 5th year of freedom, wow has it been an amazing five years. The best part has been being able to make a difference not only in my local community but across the U.S.

I was reflecting on what it felt like the moment they told me to pack my things since I was supposed to be released on the 17th of October since that is when the Judge had ordered my release. I heard the officer call my name on the PA system and tell me to roll it up, I had been waiting for five days to hear that and I could not believe it was even real.

As I came around the corner at 5:15 p.m. that evening the first face I saw was the director and producer of “Sin By Silence”, Olivia Klaus. What an amazing sight for sore eyes. It was 93 degrees outside and I had been released in khaki colored cords and a zip-up seat jacket that said “Venice Beach” CA on the front of it. It was hotter than all get out. Olivia offered me her over blouse since she had another one on underneath. What could I say but what a relief.

As we waited for my attorney’s to show up Olivia asked if I would like to call my son and let him know that I was free, she handed me her cell phone not realizing I had no clue how to use one after being away for 26 years. Needless to say after some trial and error on my part I got to speak to my son for the first time without having to call collect, and on a cell phone how cool was that.

We finally left Lynn Wood County Jail and I was treated by my legal team from Latham and Watkins to a steak dinner. Most people would think I would want to celebrate with champagne however I was never one to drink and I had no doubt one drink would make me drunk.

The first night I spent at my attorney’s mother’s house who had worked so tirelessly on my case for four years. It felt strange to sleep in a bed a real bed I might add, not a metal slab with a 3″ mattress on it.

The following morning I was picked-up by Olivia who took me to Venice beach, she went to the lifeguard station and procured a sand wheelchair and took me to the water I had dreamed of for so many years feeling it run over my feet and all I could do was laugh and cry all at the same time. The feeling of freedom was tangible and took my breath away.

After being on the beach for a while she took me to breakfast at an outdoor café just before the pier area, it was the most amazing food I had ever eaten. From there we went shopping at Target and made a day of it, memories that will last me a lifetime.

Over the past five years now I am reminded of the awesome people in my life who have been there for me since my release and before my release; my big sister Roxann, David, Rabbi Miriam, Shayna & Eli, Olivia, Adam, Judy, and several others whom if I did not mention you that does not mean I appreciate you any less than the ones I did mention. Without the core people in my life I would not have the chance to be living my dream today.

Today, Every 9 Seconds a domestic violence non-profit would not have happened without all the wonderful people who believed in me and gave me their unending support. I am grateful, honored and humbled by my freedom and the blessing of the amazing people in my life.

I ache for my sisters I left behind and I want to continue to fight for their freedom so they too can feel the water wash across their feet and the arms of their loved ones wrapped around them without fear of having their visit terminated for too much contact.

Thank you, each one of you whose names I mentioned and those I have not as you too know who you are for all you have done for me.

I AM FREE, I AM GRATEFUL, I AM HUMBLE!

DVAM

October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” I have heard many people saying that they had no idea an only thought it was “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”. It’s more than time we continue to raise our voices so that everyone knows just as many women die of violence against them every year as breast cancer victims do.

I know that we as organizations in the “Domestic Violence” movement don’t have the funds for advertising like the Breast Cancer movement does but that does not mean we don’t have a voice. I personally am making it my mission to inform as many people not only in my community but across the U.S. that “Domestic Violence Awareness Month is October”.

Collectively, we can all make a huge difference by spreading the word, and breaking the silence and cycle of abuse. We ALL can be a huge part of educating others and stepping up for victims.

Violence against Women MUST END!!!! We MUST all do our part to make that happen.

Thank you all who continue each and every day to make change and empower victims.

Inspiration

Today I received a call reminding me once again why I do the work I do to help victims of domestic violence. Why it matters to listen, to make a way of escape for someone trapped in an abusive situation. Today, I took the steps needed to help another woman know she is a survivor and can be empowered. It is awesome to see the moment when an amazing woman can realize once she is out, that she deserves better, that she matters, that she can make healthy decisions, that her opinions matter. What an AWESOME JOB WE HAVE!!!

Hoping for the Best

Each day I receive calls from someone who is either requesting counseling, assistance with a restraining order or needing help with a safety plan. For more than two months, I have worked with a woman who has been married to her spouse for more than 20 years. As we continued to meet each week during her lunch hour, formulating her safety plan and ultimate escape from her abusive situation we stayed continually aware that each area needed to be gone over and over so there would hopefully be no room for error the day the final move would take place. Finally, the day had come and of course she was nervous and beginning to become ambivalent about leaving that he would find out and what would happen to her.

The morning the move was to happen I arrived at her place, just as her friends also arrived to help on her journey to freedom. While myself and five other women were assisting her in packing her belongings, an employee of Every 9 Seconds was at another location with her husband, at his office building and ensuring his constant whereabouts. As time was passing quickly we were becoming more and more acutely aware that we needed to finish up and get out so that she would be safe.
Just as we were leaving we received the phone call that her husband had left work and was now on his way home. We arrived at the safe house with our client and once again we were able to feel the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that she was now safe and no longer had to live in fear of being hurt and humiliated ever again. As we sat and spoke for the next hour we reassured her over and over that we would see this through with her to the end, that she mattered, that her safety and willingness to leave her abusive situation was a priority for us.

This work is not for someone who is faint at heart, nor for someone who wants to be rich, but it is for those who choose to be rich in spirit and have the ability to see the fruit of their labors. This is life changing work, just as I need air to breathe and water to survive we need to be there for those who still don’t realize they have a voice, they matter, they deserve more.

Although my journey to prison and ultimately gaining my freedom in 2008 was something I would give anything to change in a heartbeat, I am at the same time grateful for my journey. Without it, I would not be who I am today. I would not be able to make that difference in breaking the silence and cycle of abuse.

To all of those who are still feeling trapped and helpless, know that you deserve better, that all you have to do is reach out, that you have a voice, tell someone you feel safe with and believe in yourself and your ability to make it through. I just want to dedicate this to the amazing woman who had the strength to call.

Jodi vs. The World

I remember when I was on trial for defending my life against my abusive husband in 1983. No one believed it was self-defense. No one believed that I had suffered years of emotional, verbal, sexual, and physical abuse. The media made me out to be a cold blooded killer, and I remember looking for any opportunity to have someone believe my side of the story.

For several weeks now I have been following the trial of Jodi Arias in Arizona. I have watched as this young woman has broken down in front of America and be continually degraded by every news show and media outlet. I wish I could say I can’t relate to the hell she is going through at this time. But, I remember just like it was yesterday being on the stand and feeling like I was being torn apart and kicked in the stomach all at the same time.

I remember what it felt like to be completely alone as the courtroom continued to be crowded with media and spectators. I knew I was alone and that only I could be the one to tell my story if anyone even cared to know the truth. I knew how lost I felt in the system and how hard it was for me to understand why it was all even happening. To be deemed a liar by people who didn’t even know me, and were not there when my crime happened, was unimaginable. To hear the prosecution give their version of events and for me to feel like they had to be talking about someone else was unthinkable. My life was overwhelming!

It was a crossroad for me to finally realize that no one cared, while also realizing I didn’t stand a chance in court with the way things were being spinned against me. Knowing at the same time I should not be convicted after all I had already been through, I had lost control of my fate.

As the Arias case continues, I have learned that the original domestic violence expert assigned to my case, Alyce LaViolette, is now working on Jodi’s case. Alyce is an incredible woman who was one of the few people who believed my side of the story during my trial and continued to stand by me the entire 26 years I was incarcerated.

I have asked myself many times, after being contacted by multiple media stations, why I feel so strongly about the truth coming out and for people to wait to pass judgement against Jodi until they know all of the facts in the case. It is because I know exactly how it feels to be on trial for killing the man that you loved, and it is truly life altering to know that you are ALONE! The only difference for me was that back in 1983 there were no laws in place for my evidence of abuse to be allowed in court, and Alyce was actually never permitted to take the stand on my behalf.

I wish the best for Jodi, and hope that she will be allowed the chance to finally correct all of the character assassinations that have taken place. Jodi’s fate lies in the hands of 12 jurors, and not the media or even the public at large. She deserves the benefit of the doubt, and shame on society for leaping to conclusions without truly listening. Aren’t we innocent until proven guilty?

We will never know the truth of what happened during Jodi’s crime, but I wish people would simply start listening instead of blaming. I know I wish someone, beyond Alyce LaViolette, had done that for me during my trial. It could have saved me from having to spend 26 years behind bars.

© Brenda Clubine, 2013. Cannot be repurposed without prior consent.

The Sin by Silence Bills Fund

I’ve had the incredible opportunity to experience freedom since 2008, and now is the time for my remaining sisters behind bars to finally have the same experience. I truly hope you will join me as we start “The Sin by Silence Bills Fund” to raise money to cover the legal expenses so that others can finally join me in the free world.

Our first recipient of fund will be Glenda Crosley, who received a sentence of 15-years-to-life and has now served 23 years behind bars. Despite new laws that allow courts to consider a woman’s previous abuse in such cases, Glenda remains in prison. Now, at age 68, Glenda now has the opportunity to submit a petition to the court under the new California laws. After decades, she finally can take the steps toward reuniting with her family after decades behind bars.

All funds raised for the Sin by Silence Bills Fund will go towards the legal expenses to help women, like Glenda Crosley, petition the courts to be resentenced under today’s laws. Once the fund total has been met we will continue each month to raise funds for the remaining 70 survivors awaiting legal counsel. Show your love and support by doing your part to help these women regain their freedom under AB 593 & AB 1593. Let’s all give and say “Enough is Enough”.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Governor Signs Sin by Silence Bills Into Law

we-did-it2

The journey to see the Sin By Silence Bills become law and set precedence is more than progressive, it’s about righting the injustice of the system for decades on several levels. Working with Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, her amazing staff, the Director of Sin By Silence, and countless others who have been a part of making history is a dream come true for me.

Only four years ago I was still in prison, my freedom continuing to elude me after 26 years. In 2008, I was forced to leave my “sisters” behind and given the honor to continue my advocacy beyond prison walls.  I stand proud to be a part of the fight for justice. My life is forever changed by my experiences and it is with heartfelt appreciation I say “thank you” to each person who worked tirelessly to fight against the decades of injustice and give incarcerated survivors a chance. It is with courage, strength and bravery that AB 593 and AB 1593 have now become LAW!

The Sin by Silence Bills

We have an opportunity to truly make a difference through the Sin by Silence Bills. This is a chance for us to do the right things to help my fellow sisters still trapped behind prison walls. Please join me and help spread the word!

 

 


Tears Roll Down My Face

There was not a moment, as the hours passed and I waited for the television debut of Sin by Silence, that I was not aware of the fact I was in my new home, with my family and friends waiting for the movie to start. As I ran around the kitchen preparing the last few items of dinner, I could not help but realize how overwhelmed I was feeling. I was experiencing a mix of emotions, I was both excited about the movie just about to begin. Yet, I was sad knowing that all my sisters from Convicted Women Against Abuse would not be able to see it, and that truly hurt my heart. I almost felt guilty about being free and having the chance to watch the world television premiere of all of our stories.

As the movie began, many of my neighbors who had never seen the movie before were speechless. As tears rolled down my face I realized that three years ago on 10/17/2008 I was in court and the Judge had the courage to release me. I actually began to sob, almost uncontrollably as the feeling swept over me. As I turned and watched my family and neighbors watching the movie, I could see for many of them, it brought up issues from childhood between their parents, or in a previous marriage. I knew there was a reason I was freed and that I was able to be a part of such a life changing movie.

Tears continued rolling down my cheeks for the remainder of the movie. It was almost like I was really seeing the movie for the first time and I was utterly and completely overwhelmed. I am just hoping that other victims of abuse who are trapped in a current relationship at the moment they were watching the movie - that they heard us all loud and clear, that it hopefully gave them the strength and courage it takes to speak to someone they trust and to get help to make a safety plan for themselves.

After the movie was over and I waited as our house guests left, I looked at my family and the feeling of utmost gratefulness consumed me. I have been given a chance to truly make a difference in the world and I want to cherish every second of that opportunity. I am eternally thankful to Olivia Klaus, the Director/Producer of the film, and her Co-Producer Ann Caryn-Cleveland for having the strength and courage to share our voices with the world and work to break the silence and shame left behind due to abuse.

I want to thank each and everyone of you who tuned in. Wherever you were, don’t let it be just another movie. We matter! Share it with your friends and family, co-workers and everyone you know that you want to be part of breaking the silence and make a difference. I also want to thank Investigation Discovery for making the decision to air Sin By Silence seeing the movie as being so much more, and realizing it is a life changing documentation of victims of abuse who experienced the worst of the worst and are survivors today. If you are a victim of abuse now, reach out, YOU MATTER!!

You Are Not Alone

Sin By Silence will be airing on Investigation Discovery. This is such an amazing opportunity to touch lives, especially those who are still trapped in an abusive relationship at this time. I was thinking about when I felt so trapped and alone. I felt like there was no one I could trust anymore. I knew that since my abuser, the one person in my life that said he loved me was literally destroying me as a person, I remember the feeling of being in fear 24/7 worrying about every little thing I was doing or was going to do,  I had no idea what to even do.  I had no friends left, because anyone who even had the courage to still be in my life, were so afraid to even try and reach out to me any more due to past events from my abuser destroying their homes, threatening them, etc. I remember it felt so overwhelming to me, I felt so alone, it was almost as if I had been left behind by everyone.

There was no question to me that no one really understood what I was going through. That all of their well meaning advice really didn’t help when what I needed most was just one person to truly hear me, to tell me I wasn’t alone, that they would help me. That I deserved better, that the abuse could end and that I could safe. WOW, what I would have given just to hear those words.

Today, I am writing this so whoever you are reading this now, that you know, that you are not alone, that I understand the nightmare you are living, that although it seems like it’s never going to end and there is no escaping the abuse, it can end, there are resources and options available to you today that were not available to me when I needed it most. It’s okay to be afraid, you can do it. I never thought I could as much as I tried, over and over to leave many times, I kept going back for many reasons, the biggest being I didn’t know better, the threats got worse and worse, there was no where else to turn. It took a lot of strength and courage to leave each time that I did, I jst never understood at the time that I could have made it, I never thought I could. Let me tell you that you can make it, that you don’t have to live in a nightmare any more.

Reach out to someone, anyone that you feel in your gut is going to help you make that step. I’ve learned a lot about following my gut or instinct if that’s what they call it, I no longer live in fear every day, I am proud of who I am, I will no longer tolerate any form of abuse in my life. I want you to know, most importantly, YOU ARE NOT ALONE…feel free to get in touch even if you just need someone to talk to. Thanks for the chance to share my experience with you.