Jana Kramer says she remembers praying for God to take her away in August 2005, when her first husband, Michael Gambino, tried to kill her. The singer is opening up about her abused past in hopes she’ll be able to help others.

Kramer tells People she was just 19 years old when she met and married Gambino, a man 17 years older than she was. They married quickly in 2004, but soon he began to abuse her. According to Kramer he'd come home at 3AM and pick her up out of bed and throw her to the ground. She’d wear makeup to keep the abuse hidden.

“When I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ he sent me a photo of my dogs on the freeway and said ‘I’m going to let them go if you don’t come home,’” Kramer says in the magazine.

On Aug. 6, 2005, Gambino choked Kramer unconscious outside of their Los Angeles home. He was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years in prison. Two years after his 2010 release, Gambino committed suicide, according to People.

"My self-confidence went down each time he was abusive," Kramer says. "I remember praying that night, ‘Please, just take me away, I don’t want to be here anymore.'"

Reports of her first husband’s dark past were rumored earlier this fall. Radar Online quotes an unidentified source who says Gambino’s real name was Michael Salais. People includes his mugshot from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

This news comes as Kramer is going through a divorce from ex-football player Michael Caussin. They separated over the summer, shortly before she revealed she'd be on Dancing With the Stars. She was also married to Jonathon Schaech in 2010, and engaged to country singer Brantley Gilbert. Kramer and Caussin have a daughter named Jolie who Kramer says she relies on for strength through all her struggles.

"It's not that people have to find a child to find their strength, but it's always been in me. I just needed some help getting it out," she says.

12 Country Breakups We Never Saw Coming

Jana Kramer Announces Her Separation

More From Taste of Country