Brandy’s father died when she was 12, leaving her mother to raise Brandy and her sisters alone.
“She was away a lot, just trying to cope with my father’s death,” Brandy says. “That left us [kids] to figure things out on our own.”
Brandy used that freedom to explore drugs, drinking, and rough crowds. She was in and out of romantic relationships, many of which became abusive.
After several moves around the country, she ended up in Michigan in her late 30s, where she gave birth to her daughter Amanda*. Brandy got involved with notoriously violent motorcycle clubs and began dating a man who belonged to one. This pairing proved to be the most dangerous in a string of bad relationships.
The man’s violent tendencies “started escalating quickly,” Brandy says. The abuse came to a head that fateful day when he pointed the gun at her face, and she turned it on him.