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In My Defense: An Unlikely Romance, a Deadly Gunshot, and a Young Widow's Road to Redemption

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When Leigh Ann pulled the trigger . . . her life changed forever. On a balmy night, everything changed in the stilling of a heartbeat . . . During Leigh Ann's psychiatric clinical work as a nursing student, a patient swept her off her feet with his dazzling good looks and charm. But soon after marrying Mr Right, things began to go horribly wrong. Believing the best of the man she loved, she endured the heartache and abuse until his threats turned deadly. In the early hours of September 16, 1994, Leigh Ann Bryant, fearing for her life and that of her young son, shot and killed her husband. Panicked and afraid of retaliation, she told the police an intruder had committed the crime. Indicted for murder, and subsequently jailed, Leigh Ann's journey of desperation miraculously turned to one of ultimate healing."In My Defense" is for anyone who has felt alone or hopeless at the hands of abuse - whether it is emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual. It offers tangible hope for victims - and those who love them - who are earnestly seeking the light of healing and freedom. Leigh Ann's story will grip and shake you, and never let you go.

320 pages, Paperback

First published August 13, 2013

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About the author

Leigh Ann Bryant

1 book7 followers
I survived an abusive marriage when I killed my husband in self-defense to save my life and the life of my toddler son.
I found love, peace and joy through God's grace and mercy while in jail charged with murder.
I am now married to a godly man and have an amazing 12 year old son with him. My "toddler" is now 21.
God restored so much more than I lost, and I enjoy life as a wife, mother, RN, cheerleader for my gymnast son, and world traveler. God's creations are awesome, and I so love going on family vacations, mission trips, and ministering to inmates in prison wherever God lets me go.

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22 (40%)
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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Christina Weeks.
3 reviews5 followers
December 7, 2013
A chilling and heartbreaking memoir. Tragic, yet hopeful. Leigh Ann Bryant is very candid about the choices she made, the spiraling effects of an abusive relationship, and how she found redemption. True to life, the story is not black and white, but rather an honest look at mental illness and domestic abuse--how one can both love and fear a spouse, how one can be driven to do the unthinkable, and how one can recover. A recommended read.
Profile Image for English .
736 reviews
April 7, 2014
As per the synopsis, this book tells the story of Leigh –Ann who meets the person she believes to be the man of her dreams whilst training, and after a whirlwind romance they marry. The marriage turns out to be marked with abuse and obsession, until she desperate measures to protect herself and her infant son with fatal consequences…

In My Defense was touching true life story of hope and redemption for a woman whose life had been marked by bad choices, and heartache. In some ways, some of the author’s decisions appeared illogical and almost unbelievable. Why did she not see the danger signs with Vincent earlier, why did she not tell the truth sooner? However, for those who have not faced such circumstances (thankfully many never will) it’s all too easy to pass judgement on a young lady whose deep seated need for love after a difficult family life and traumatic youth drove her into the arms of the first man who seemed to offer it.

Her intense love and fear mixed with loyalty for the man who abused, whist wanting to win him over and change him her reflect the reality of many people (both male and female) who have faced such abuse in relationships. Thus her story is genuine and recommended for everyone. People who have a background in social care or working with abuse victims might find it particularly interesting to read the testimony of a survivor.

The writing style admittedly was not the best ever. The short chapters allowed for a quick read, but the style was sometimes rather matter of fact and narrative, and there did seem to be some gaps which could make the course of events seem a little inconsistent. One could however identify with the author and her plight, especially when faced with the apparent ineptitude of her legal team. Leigh Ann’s story and journey also conveyed some valuable messages about the necessity of endurance in difficult circumstances, and not viewing faith in Christ as simply an easy way out or little more than ‘fire insurance’.

A challenging, difficult, yet necessary and ultimately encouraging read! I got an e-version of this book free from Netgalley for review purposes, all opinions expressed are my own.
1 review2 followers
December 6, 2013
This book is absolutely amazing. I have never read a book, fiction or non-fiction that contains such raw emotion with every page. You really go through every emotion on the spectrum through this journey with the author, from smiling, to crying, to being scared, and feeling relief. Leigh Ann is an incredible author, not only is the story so powerful, it is fantastically written and really draws you in, making you read “only one more chapter” until your eyes can’t stand to stay open anymore. That was definitely the case for me. I read the book in about three days, picking it up any chance I could.
I truly believe this is a book that everyone needs to read. It is so easy to cast judgments on what you think abusive relationships are. This story allows the reader into the mind of someone who actually lived the life of an abused wife. By not sparring details it made it so much more real and easier to understand the decisions that were made over the course of the book. It also opened my eyes a little more. Realizing these horrible things are going on all around you and me and aren’t stopping. Reading my hometown was where this whole story happened sent chills down my spine. This kind of things happens all over, all the time. It isn’t as far away as we sometimes make it out to be.
This book is an excellent testimony on the love of our God and how through Him, anything is possible. His light can overpower any darkness. I would read this book a hundred times over and recommend it to anyone- Christian or not.
1 review2 followers
December 4, 2013
This is a must-read book! Leigh Ann paints her story so beautifully that you feel like you have sat down at the theater and watched it unfold. It is a painful story indeed but the redemption found in the Lord's healing power can be internalized for any reader and their own "story".
68 reviews
June 22, 2019
A compelling read and a bittersweet true story.

Leigh Ann's story gives great insight into why women stay so long/don't leave abusive relationships, the lies they believe and the coping mechanisms they develop to survive. While Leigh Ann's story didn't explicitly give suggestions for how to support women in this situation, I certainly came away with a better understanding of domestic violence and sensitive, appropriate strategies I could use if someone ever disclosed to me. This raw and honest autobiography is written in such a way that you can't help but have a level of compassion for everyone who is part of her story.

A final note: I believe Leigh Ann's story is for a mature audience and includes mention of drugs, violence, sex, rape, abuse and weapons. I felt these topics were discussed in a way didn't glorify them and were to an extent modestly described (ie. didn't go in to more detail than necessary).
Profile Image for Janet.
923 reviews6 followers
April 19, 2019
Tragic and true story of Nurse Leigh Ann Bryant who survived not one but two abusive husbands. To protect not only herself but also her young son, Leigh Ann's mother bear instincts take over on September 16, 1994, and she kills Husband #2 (Vincent). Leigh Ann tells the tale of what it's like to be in jail after being victimized in the courts all while fighting a losing child custody battle. Her life takes a positive turn when she hires Dallas Defense Attorney Doug Mulder and accepts Christ as her personal Savior. The author is to be commended for sharing her story to let others know that they aren't alone.
10 reviews
September 19, 2023
This book is powerful and devastating. The choices an abused woman must make . . . and does make to survive, to escape terror, and to come out the other side can be brutal. And this author's choices are no different. I think this book is important to show the completely opposing sides of an abuser—charming and wonderful to cruel and dangerous. It helps us understand the confusion an abused person suffers under the "care" of the abuser.
Profile Image for Stacy Dick.
27 reviews1 follower
September 2, 2020
I can’t imagine the pain this woman went through. Just reading her story is anguishing. An amazing story of how even a bright educated young woman can be drawn in to a dangerous relationship. Love should not equate pain. Women should be taught this while growing up. I think it would prevent a lot of domestic violence. Hopefully, this story can prevent it from happening to someone else.
1,324 reviews10 followers
December 31, 2013
I really didn’t know what to expect when reading a memoir. I’ve never read one before. But if you didn’t know In My Defense was a memoir you would think you are reading a fiction book. But unfortunately, the events in this book are all true.

As I read I was captivated by the downward spiral of Leigh Ann’s and Vincent’s relationship. I was frustrated by her at times when she didn’t walk away from the relationship when it was obvious Vincent wasn’t going to keep his word.

But I have never been in a relationship like hers and I might have done the same thing in that situation. If Vincent was as charming as the book portrayed maybe I would have wanted to believe him. Not to mention Leigh Ann’s wounds she carried from her childhood into adulthood. I do understand that. She believed she wasn’t good enough for anything else and blamed herself for most of what happened.

This book will hold you captive as we you wait to read the words of redemption that you know will come, when Leigh Ann finds her identity in Christ and receives His amazing grace.

If you are hesitant to read a memoir I encourage you to give this one a try I don’t think you will be disappointed.

And the best part of all is Leigh Ann has turned her story into a Genesis 5020 story. She is using what the enemy meant for harm for God’s glory and to help other women in the same situation.

An ebook of this book has been given to me by the publisher through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
40 reviews7 followers
December 2, 2014
In My Defense is a great book! I had a hard time putting it down and when I did all I could think about was getting back to the book to find out what happened next! I won this book from goodreads and I am so glad I did! I have worked with abused women and children and have experienced domestic abuse myself. Leigh Ann is a very brave woman to put her story out to the public. To have her life's choices judged by stranger's with the hope of helping someone else shows you how brave and caring she is! I wish Leigh Ann would have written more about the abuse, but I understand why she didn't. I know from personal experience there is no handle to turn off the love for the abuser even though you know what they are doing is wrong! I was so touched by Leigh Ann's experience in jail of really finding out how much God really loved her and wanted to be a part of her daily life! Sometimes we have to hit a brick wall before we really understand our need for God. It is when we reach that place of desperation that we can fully surrender everything to our loving Savior and watch Him make something good out of our mess! I pray that everyone who reads Leigh Ann's story will find hope and come to know God intimately, if you don't already know Him! Thank You Leigh Ann for sharing your life story with the world and for the wonderful gift of your book to me! I will treasure it and share it!
Profile Image for Sherri Jones.
18 reviews
April 1, 2015
I was sad as I read this book. Realizing this was a book based on the life of the author, I felt such pain for her. I have struggled with my faith throughout the years and have been searching for "the feeling" most describe in their books about discovering God. As a law enforcement professional, I read some of the things Vincent had said to her and the actions he had shown. My first thought was "how could she fall for those lines?" I see those behaviors and hear those lines every day. I put the book down, cleared my head, and asked myself "What about before I started this job?" Would I, being the same as Leigh Ann and searching for love, have fallen so hard with Vincent? My answer, sad but true, probably yes. Then I picked up the book and continued. I must give Leigh Ann my greatest appreciation. She has clearly found her strength in God and the ability to see herself in a manner that kept her fighting for her beliefs and principles. I most enjoyed the thoughts she clearly defined in the ending epilogue, regarding the positive thoughts she experienced with her relationship with Vincent. I sometimes have a lot of trouble, finding the positives, when the negatives are so clear and focused on.
Profile Image for Nancy Reynolds.
78 reviews6 followers
March 6, 2015
This true-story, written by Leigh Ann Bryant, was a real eye-opener in certain matters regarding professional-patient relationships, domestic abuse and certain aspects of the criminal justice system.
On September 16, 1994, Ms. Bryant killed her ex-husband when she feared for her and her young son's lives. Panicking, she lied to the police and stated that an intruder had done it.
Ms. Bryant's story is gripping and honest. Whereas I may have disagreed with some of the decisions she made, she was young and I have not walked in her shoes to know exactly what my actions would have been, especially if I feared for my children's safety.
I would recommend this book to women at risk for entering abusive relationships, nursing, counseling and psychology students and professionals.
My copy was obtained from Goodreads.
1 review1 follower
January 2, 2014
Just finished... WoW! What a great read and couldn't put it down! Every face has a story and this is an amazing one of crazy young love between two seemingly lost souls in a fallen world where things went horribly wrong long before the fateful night. Then the gripping story of a long, hard and courageous road to redemption at each turn of the page. I'm reminded that I too choose my sin, but not the consequences. Denial through terror, torment and a life of chaos with an amazing ending of redemption and rejoicing in the ultimate unveiling of a plan and purpose for the hope of another of God's kids willing to transfer their trust to the only One who can wash away the guilt of sin- Jesus Christ our Savior!
1 review
January 4, 2014
Leigh Ann's story is amazing and powerful! You experience an entire spectrum of emotions from despair and fear to hope and joy. It's impossible to put down and leaves you optimistic for the potential in every Christ filled life!
Profile Image for Amy:).
157 reviews
March 18, 2015
Leigh Ann Bryant shares an inside look at domestic abuse at the hands of her mentally ill husband. She shares her strong beliefs in her husband, in love, and ultimately in the power of God. A book that will remain with you long after you've finished the last page.
Profile Image for Kayo.
2,438 reviews39 followers
December 21, 2014
Wow what a book. Author went through so much.
So interesting!
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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