Sharing her story. The Real Housewives of Orange County‘s Gina Kirschenheiter gave an emotional victim impact statement during her ex-husband Matt Kirschenheiter’s case where he pleaded guilty to domestic battery.
Matt and Gina, both 36, appeared in front of a judge in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday, April 20. During the hearing, Matt plead guilty to one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury of a spouse, and guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, or deceit.
Before she began to read her statement, Gina was already sobbing. “It’s hard,” she noted to the judge.
“I thought I was going to die. I still get chills thinking about how I begged you to, ‘Stop. Think about the kids.’ And you responded by saying, ‘Your mom is going to die tonight.’ It echoes in my brain, and it sinks deep in my heart,” she said. “That night, it literally felt like I was in a house with a stranger whom I’d never met before. Your eyes were completely black, and you were not Matt. It was so hard for me to believe that it was even you, but it was.”
Gina continued with her statement through her tears: “It’s taken me a lot of time, self-care, and therapy to work through what happened that night, but I have managed to forgive you for most of it. I accept that I will always have this painful memory from that night. I’ve come to terms with that.”
The judge sentenced Matt to 180 days in county jail. However, he does not have to go to jail if he completes a number of conditions for 178 days, including wearing a bracelet monitor, finishing a 52-week batterers program and three years of formal probation. As part of the plea terms, he also agreed to a “peaceful contact protective order,” which says he cannot harass or threaten Gina.
The Bravolebrity filed a restraining order against her ex-husband in June 2019 after accusing him of domestic violence. At the time, she alleged that he’d attacked her and threatened to kill her after a night out. Months later, Matt was charged with two felony counts of domestic violence in September 2019. At the time, he pleaded not guilty.
The former pair were together from May 2010 to July 2018. When the reality star joined RHOC for season 13 in 2018, she and Matt were living separately. The show went on to chronicle their divorce, a temporary reconciliation and, eventually, the accusations.
“I was really scared. I ran out of the house, and I rang my neighbor’s doorbell, and I was banging on the door. And he dragged me back in the house,” Gina alleged during the RHOC season 14 reunion in December 2019. “A lot of the neighbors heard. They all called the police and then the cops came, they arrested him. It was scary. It was really scary.”
In paperwork obtained by Us Weekly in June 2019 after Gina’s accusations came to light, the New Jersey native noted that there were “many” past incidents with her ex-husband that had upset her.
“After our separation but during our nesting arrangement for custody purposes, we began arguing. I asked [Matt] to leave me alone, but he wouldn’t stop yelling,” Gina claimed when discussing an August 2018 incident. “I locked myself in my bedroom. He began yelling at me through the door saying, ‘Let me in! I need something from the closet!’ He eventually broke through the door and went straight to my closet. I could hear him playing with his shotgun.”
The Kirschenheiters share three children: Nicholas, 8, Sienna, 6, and Luca, 5. During the most recent season of RHOC, Matt appeared onscreen with his new girlfriend as the former couple held a small party for their daughter’s birthday. The mother of three is now dating Travis Mullen, who has three children of his own.
Gina noted that, while the situation with her ex has been extremely difficult, she wants her children’s relationship with their father to remain intact.
“I was very thankful that he [filmed] and I do owe a lot of that I think to his girlfriend,” she told Us exclusively in October 2020. “She’s good for him. And she has children also and she always puts the kids first and I think it was helpful for everybody. Even though I did go through such bad things with Matt, I feel like it is important for people to see that you can go through all those bad things, but then you can move on. And obviously, it’s still complicated and emotional and I’m totally willing to share that, but I’m also willing to have my daughter’s father at her birthday party if she wants a father there.”
During her victim impact statement on Tuesday, Gina noted the affect Matt’s actions had on their kids.
“I’ve come to terms with that. But to think that Nicolas, Sienna, and Luca will one day grow up to know what happened that night breaks my heart. The thought of our children having to think about what their dad did to their mom that night is so painful to me, and it’s so unfair to them,” she said. “As a result of your poor choices and actions, our whole family now has to pay the consequences. And I’m having a really hard time forgiving you for the impact that this has had and will continue to have on our children. With that said, because of Nicholas, Sienna, and Luca, I’m willing to keep trying to forgive you.”
With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential support