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Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story (1994)

Hooked on steroids and unable to control his bursts of sudden rage, a police officer keeps his wife under his thumb and routinely abuses her behind the closed doors of their house.


Armand Mastroianni


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jaclyn Smith ... Donna Yaklich
Brad Johnson ... Dennis Yaklich
Hilary Swank ... Patty Yaklich
David Lascher ... Denny Yaklich - age 18
Carolyn McCormick ... Susie
Andrew Lawrence ... Denny Yaklich - age 5
Ramsay Midwood Ramsay Midwood ... Eddie Greenwell
Jason Kristofer ... Charlie Greenwell
David Gianopoulos ... Jerry
David Byron David Byron ... Mike
Lisa Robin Kelly ... Charlie's Girlfriend
Gary Hudson ... Steve
Rosanna Huffman Rosanna Huffman ... Lenore Walker
David Cromwell David Cromwell ... Dr. Cassover
Tom Nibley Tom Nibley ... Foreman


Donna Yaklich meets Dennis the policeman and thinks she might have found a good relationship. But Dennis is obsessed with weight-lifting and uses steroids, which make him aggressive and abusive. Getting out of the relationship isn't easy as Dennis isn't willing to let her go, and Donna's options are narrowed down to one remaining alternative. Written by Lars Skogan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

1 February 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Victim of Rage See more »

Filming Locations:

Newhall, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In the movie, Dennis is depicted as having only a stepdaughter from his previous marriage. In real life, Dennis had 3 stepchildren and a daughter of his own from his previous marriage. See more »


At the end of the movie, Donna mentions having served 5 1/2 years of her sentence, but was talking to her son, who is 18. She was convicted when he was 5, so she actually should have served 13 years at this point. See more »


Patty Yaklich: [during the murder trial, tearfully] Donna was Dennis's slave. At one point, she told me she was going to kill herself, and she just couldn't go on living anymore. She said she was scared to do anything in fear that Dennis might react. I mean, it was like walking on eggshells in that house. One day, everything was okay, and then the next day, the TV would be up too loud, and Dennis would get so mad. And she was just tired of living that way
Public Defender: Did she seem scared or frightened?
Patty Yaklich: Yes, she did.
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting, but typical of most Lifetime movies about battered women.
27 August 2005 | by gemini764See all my reviews

This is the story of a battered woman in fear of her life who elicits the help of two friends to kill her husband. She is arrested and tried for murder, convicted, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The story is narrated by Jacklin Smith's character in jail as she tells her grown up son what happened to his father. Although a very suspenseful look a domestic abuse, the movie follows the traditional Lifetime TV conventional formula of the weak, helpless, ignorant female who is the victim of circumstance and mistreated he husband and by the law. All men in the movie are portrayed as sexist jerks except for her little boy who would do anything to make his mother happy. All the women in the movie are portrayed as weak and passive, helplessly letting men step all over them. So her husband's a cop, that's no excuse for not calling the police and having him arrested when he hits on her. She calls her sister, who's as weak and helpless as she is. Didn't she ever think to call the police and press criminal charges? They may be her husband's friends and colleagues, but if it's a domestic violence call and they have to make an arrest, then they will. And if she had so much money to throw at hit men, couldn't she have gone to an attorney and asked for help in filing a divorce? She never once talked about getting a divorce from her husband. When she tries to leave him with the help of her sister, he says she can't take the baby. Well, if she can't take the baby, couldn't she just leave the baby behind and flee for her own safety? I mean, I know it's a maternal thing to look after your children and their well being, but you can't help them if you can't help yourself. And also, why didn't the people at the shelter help her when her husband came and dragged her away? Because those women are helpless, ignorant fools too! So she stayed with her husband to try to protect her baby and what happens: she kills her husband and gets put away; the baby is now a grown up young man off to start college and begin his life. He walks away free while she stays behind bars. She says she stayed because she loved him and tried to block out all the bad things,but I can't help but wonder if she also stayed because she's a gold digging freeloader? This movie makes Donna Yaklich come across as a stupid, gold digging bimbo who helplessly lets a man kick her around while making no rational attempts to get help for herself except cry to her little sister and stepdaughter who are too stupid themselves to help her. Why didn't her sister testify at the trial? She was a witness too. The most compelling part of the movie was the end, when her son tells her "someday when you're free and will come for you and we will go see the ocean together" since that was always her dream. She looks at the old woman, also an inmate, and knows she may grow old in jail and her dream may never come true. Then she says in narration, "if a man kills a his wife, he gets 6 years, if a woman kills her husband she gets 20 years and I got 40 years". Well, yeah, don't blame yourself for being brainless and stupid, blame it on society and the law. This was a good attempt to make viewers feel sorry for Donna Yacklich.

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