"There's got to be something good to come out of this," Wendy Maldonado tells PEOPLE

By Johnny Dodd
Updated January 01, 2016 04:40 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Wendy Maldonado

On a recent rainy night, Wendy Maldonado stares out the window at the floodlights and razor wire surrounding the Oregon prison where she’s spent the past decade and talks quietly about what she hopes to do with her life after her release on March 7.

“There’s got to be something good to come out of this,” says Wendy, who has been imprisoned since 2006 for murdering her husband after years of relentless, sadistic abuse that included being regularly strangled until she blacked out and having over a dozen teeth knocked out.

The judge who sentenced Wendy described what she – and her four sons – had endured as “the worst case of domestic violence that any of us has seen.”

Her oldest son Randy, who was 16 at the time, assisted his mom in the murder, slipping into Aaron Maldonado’s bedroom while he slept in the early morning hours of May 1, 2005, and helping her kill him with a hatchet and a hammer.

The abuse started not long after her marriage to Maldonado. By the time Wendy turned 17, she was pregnant and resigned to the idea that she was “never getting away” from her increasingly violent husband, who over the years repeatedly threatened to kill her and their sons if she ever tried leaving him, graphically detailing how he would do it, she says.

Wendy’s countless broken bones and bruises have healed; her missing teeth have all been replaced. Now, she just wants to share her sad story with anyone who’ll listen, educating them about the warning signs she wished she’d paid attention to in the early stages of her relationship with Aaron.

“It’s over for me,” she continues. “But maybe if I could help one or two other women like me not have to go through this, then maybe all this was for a reason.”