In her first interview since the August suicide of her estranged husband Russell, Taylor Armstrong says she suffered years of physical abuse from Russell, including a punch that nearly blinded her
In just the latest instance of a "Real Housewives" star sharing information that seemed too personal to be shared with a TV audience, "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong told "Entertainment Tonight" interviewer Nancy O'Dell that her late husband Russell told her he was afraid he might kill her during one of their fights.
Taylor Armstrong, who had filed for divorce from husband Russell in July, about a month before he committed suicide on Aug. 15, told O'Dell, "He had mentioned he was afraid he might kill me, and I think he meant it in almost an accidental way, that he would get so angry at me at some time that he would hit me, and I would hit something, or he would grab me by the neck and something would go wrong."
Taylor Armstrong went into specific detail about the years of abuse she says she suffered from Russell, including the first time he abused her, when she was pregnant with their now five-year-old daughter Kennedy.
Armstrong said her late husband grabbed her by the throat and held her against a wall, because she had made and served pizza to his children from previous relationships, but had failed to make a vegetable to go with it. "I saw his ability to go from just zero to 60 that quickly," she told O'Dell.
Armstrong also told O'Dell that Russell Armstrong "was very careful in how he would do things, because he didn't want to leave a lot of physical signs of injury." He didn't even see himself as an abuser, she says, until the act of abuse that made her leave him, the one that almost, she says, left her blinded.
Upset with her because she had ignored him and, he claimed, she was being unfaithful to him while in Las Vegas filming her birthday celebration for the "Real Housewives," Russell punched his wife in the eye so forcefully that he broke bones in the bottom of her eye socket.
She had just had corrective surgery, and the added trauma his abuse caused to her eye could have left her blinded in that eye, Taylor Armstrong says her doctor told her.
"I think my requiring surgery, and there being such specific radiographic evidence of the injury, that he finally really had to look it in the face," Armstrong told O'Dell during the interview, which was accompanied by difficult-to-view photos of her injured eye, photos that she reportedly sold to "Entertainment Tonight" for a six-figure sum.
"I had never seen my husband cry in all the years that we were together, and when I finally showed him the MRI, he just put it down and started to cry. And I think it was him having to come to terms with the fact that this had gone on for too long, and that this time he really could have hurt me beyond what could have been repaired."
Armstrong also said her husband had abused her "maybe 20" times throughout their relationship. She never called the police because she didn't want him to go to jail.
"And he would say that, 'If you call the police, they're going to send me to jail, then who's gonna take care of Kennedy and who's gonna take care of you?'" Armstrong said.
Of the photos of her eye injury, the "Real Housewives" star said they're hard for her to view. "But I also feel like they send a pretty loud message that, regardless of how someone looks on the outside, you don’t know what's going on behind closed doors."
Armstrong, who will deliver what O'Dell teased as a "minute-by-minute," first-hand account of the day of her husband's suicide on Wednesday night's "ET," also explained what she would say to people who question how she could discuss such private matters in such a public forum, when Russell Armstrong is no longer here to defend himself.
"I would say that they're right, unfortunately, he's not here. And I mourn the loss of him as much, if not more, than anyone," Armstrong said.
"But at the same time, I've put myself second in order to protect him, and he doesn’t need my protection anymore. But there are a lot of women in this world that probably do. So I have to fight for the living now."