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To Kill or Be Killed

A True Crime Memoir From Prison

A convicted murderer tells the story of the years

To Kill or Be Killed Header

Book Summary

To Kill or Be Killed

A convicted murderer tells the story of the years of domestic abuse she endured that drove her to kill her police sergeant husband.

The day we met in October of 1997, I was working at the District Court in Traverse City, Michigan as a Deputy Clerk. It was like most other days with arraignments, sentencings, civil case hearings and the like. People shuffling in and out, everyone taking care of their important business with court appearances, document filings, paying tickets, fines and bonding loved ones out of jail.

I loved my job. It was extremely satisfying and interesting with constant interaction with all walks of life, including people on either end of the judicial spectrum and many in between. Suddenly, there he was. Tall, handsome, and looking so impressive and important in his Michigan State Police uniform with his hat, gun belt and badge. A powerful man who had chosen a profession to serve and protect. He was extremely friendly and upbeat, smiling profusely. Best of all, he, too, was unattached.

What could go wrong? He was like a dream man. We clicked, immediately, and began dating exclusively. But he was not a dream man. He was a nightmare . . . as I learned over the next twelve years.

Twelve years of enduring domestic violence at its absolute worst. Constant abuse, control, manipulation, and threats. Sadistic sexual deviance and sexual violence. It was only going to end one way: someone would die in our bed and someone would go to prison for murder.

This is my story about domestic violence, resilience, reckoning and survival.

What readers say about the book🧐

I had a very difficult time reading much of this book. Joni goes into detail about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband and, although it was not physical, it hit me very hard and struck a raw nerve for me way deep down inside.She endured EXTREME mental, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband until she saw no other choice. It was going to be either her life or his. And she did what she felt was the only thing she COULD do after trying for many, many years to endure, and several times to leave. She also knew that if she stayed she may end up taking her OWN life, as he'd driven her to try that several times also.I'm not sure why my reaction to reading about sexual abuse is so strong, but it always is. Even when watching scenes in movies, my feelings are very visceral. Sometimes I wonder if I've blocked out something that happened to me, because I have this irrational fear that something like that will some day. But reading this book was so difficult for me in THAT regard that I couldn't read those scenes in one sitting. I had to take breaks and almost MAKE myself read them. I'm not sure if that's because of ME, or bc she wrote it so well.So, fair warning, the scenes can be graphic - even though I'm almost positive she toned them WAY down.There was one scene that brought me to tears. The scene with the daughter and her wedding veil. If you read the book (which I do recommend) watch for that scene where sure asks her mom to help her cut it. It's a VERY emotional & highly indicative scene showing how he was with his children.Who should read this book? Basically, people who are interested in why women don't leave abusive relationships, or those who can't quite call what they're going through "abusive" even though they know deep down that it is.Joni didn't allow herself to call it abuse for a long, long time. Finally, once she allowed herself to see it for what it was, she was shocked that she let her formerly strong, independent, opinionated self change so much...and to find her way back.I only wish the story would have continued a bit as I'm aware of what happened to her past where the book ends and am curious as to her future.

Lil Miss from Michigan

(Amazon Review)
About the Author

Joni Ankerson


Joni Ankerson is a first time author and writes her memoir following a 20 year tragedy including domestic violence, murder, and spending time in prison. She had lived a normal, decent, productive life with a good family and great upbringing. A few ups and downs along the way would prove to equal nothing until she met her third husband. A seemingly “knight in shining armor”; the man with the title, the gun, the badge and all of the authority, power, and control that any man could possess. The man expected to serve, protect and assist given his chosen profession. This is a story about living in constant fear, fighting for your life, regaining your freedom, independence, and well-being. This is a story about domestic violence, resilience, and survival.

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A convicted murderer tells the story of the years

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