Assaulted, Betrayed and Jailed but Ultimately Triumphant, Brenda Clubine Fights for Abused Women

New Legislation Brings Justice to 7,000 Incarcerated Victims of Domestic Abuse

Sin by Silence Documentary airs October 24 at 7 PM e/p

Oct 05, 2012, 15:23 ET from Investigation Discovery

SILVER SPRING, Md., Oct. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- This past Sunday, California Governor Brown signed into law legislation that allows new sentencing and parole hearings for women incarcerated for killing their abusers.  At these new hearings, judges and parole boards will have to take a victim's history of abuse into account.  This is thanks in large part Brenda Clubine, a former inmate whose group Convicted Women Against Abuse was documented in the film Sin by Silence, which inspired the legislation.  Sin by Silence airs on Investigation Discovery on October 24 at 7 PM ET. 

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Although Battered Women's Syndrome was legally recognized in 1992, women who were convicted of killing their abusers before then remained in prison, unable to get new trials, sentences, or fair parole hearings.

When Brenda Clubine's husband attacked her for the last time, there were 11 restraining orders against him and a warrant for his arrest.  For years, Brenda endured broken bones, skull fractures, and nights in hospitals.  Nobody believed that her husband, a former police detective and pillar of the community, could have committed such atrocities.  When she met him to sign their divorce papers, he assaulted her yet again and threatened that investigators wouldn't be able to identify her body after he was through with her.  Brenda struck his head with a wine bottle and ran for her life.  He was found dead days later. 

Because Battered Women's Syndrome was not yet legally recognized, Brenda was not able to present the medical records, photos and witnesses that proved the extent of her abuse, and in 1983 she received a sentence of 15 years to life and had to give up her son Joe for adoption.  Upon incarceration, she was informed by Joe's adoptive parents that he'd died.  Though grieving, while in prison, Brenda met other women with similar stories and formed a support group called Convicted Women Against Abuse.  CWAA caught the attention of filmmaker Olivia Klaus, who helped Brenda spread the word about this injustice with the film Sin by Silence.  Together, CWAA and Klaus fought to pass a series of different bills to correct this flaw in the system.  The most recent pair of "Sin by Silence" bills will bring justice to 7,000 women throughout the California Correctional System.

In addition to freeing thousands of women wrongly incarcerated, the Sin by Silence documentary helped reveal that Brenda's son Joe was in fact alive, and mother and son reunited after decades apart.  Brenda has since been released from prison and now continues her advocacy efforts on behalf of domestic violence survivors beyond prison walls.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  To learn more about how you can help victims of domestic abuse contact the National Network to End Domestic Violence www.nnedv.orgIf you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

SOURCE Investigation Discovery