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Real Housewife, Real Demons
Aired February 9, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PINSKY: Here we go.
Tonight, Real Housewife Taylor Armstrong for the entire hour. My exclusive sit-down with the reality star in her Beverly Hills home. The riches, the rise to fame, and the reality of Russell`s suicide. Taylor responds to the rumors and accusations and tells me how she has grown in the process. And the hidden part of her personality no one ever sees until now.
Let`s get started.
Tonight, a very special edition of Dr. Drew. We are calling it Real Housewife, Real Demons. Taylor Armstrong is here with me in the studio and she has been opening up about her new book, "Hiding from Reality." Her secret alter-ego, some alleged abuse, and her husband who committed suicide. Watch this.
PINSKY (voice-over): She was thrust into the spotlight, shooting to fame on Bravo`s hit TV show "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, STAR, BRAVO`S "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": I finally found my voice. I`m not afraid to use it.
PINSKY: But Taylor Armstrong was a housewife with a dark secret. She says she suffered years of abuse, both verbal and physical at the hands of her husband, Russell. Taylor says she thought if she signed on to star in a reality show, that cameras might protect her. Instead, they caught a woman going through an extreme breakdown.
ARMSTRONG: Melissa (ph), you better backtrack, because I`m telling you right now -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calm down. Calm down.
ARMSTRONG: -- but don`t - don`t cut me off. I have bent over backwards since the day I met you to be kind to you, and you have treated me so poorly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I haven`t.
ARMSTRONG: It is embarrassing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven`t.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, you have.
PINSKY: Shortly after filming wrapped, the unthinkable happened. Taylor`s estranged husband, Russell Armstrong, committed suicide.
Tonight, I sit down with Taylor at her home. We dig deep and she opens up more than she ever has before.
PINSKY (on camera): Did the cameras kill him?
PINSKY: Taylor is here with me in the studio and she will take your questions later in the program.
But right now, we`re going to go - hi, Taylor, how are you? Welcome. We`re going to go inside what was really an hour`s long, we were there a couple of hours, weren`t we, talking in your house?
PINSKY: And we haven`t seen these tapes. We`re going to see it for the first time, you and I.
PINSKY: OK. Here we go. Let`s all watch it.
PINSKY: What made you bring the cameras in?
ARMSTRONG: That was - I think a lot of it, subconsciously, I think I thought that it would help us get of this plateau we were on and our -
PINSKY: Did you think it would protect you from the abuse -
PINSKY: -- that maybe the cameras are there, he wouldn`t do this to me.
PINSKY: Yes. That`s what I figured.
ARMSTRONG: You would never think that someone would take a risk like that. But the problem was he had an impulse control problem and it didn`t matter how many cameras were around when he was out of control, nothing around him made any difference, so unfortunately we didn`t get to that piece of him early on.
PINSKY: Did the cameras kill him?
PINSKY: What - if you were to paint the story differently, is there things that could have happened that would have Russell still here with us?
ARMSTRONG: You know, I think about that a hundred times a day and -
PINSKY: I feel like you`re - like there`s like emotion right at the surface here. You`re hiding from it. Is that -
ARMSTRONG: Well, I`m trying not to just cry all the time these days.
PINSKY: I know.
ARMSTRONG: I feel like I cry on everything that I do, so, you know, but I do, I think about it all the time. You know, could I, if I would have given him one more phone call. If I would have stayed, you know, another two weeks, what could I have done differently? And that`s part of survivor`s guilt I think. I`m reading a great book on suicide for survivors, and thankfully, I`m seeing that they have a lot of the same questions that I have, you know, what could I have done differently.
But in the end, I think suicide is the choice of the one who commits it, and I don`t know that there is anything I could have done differently.
PINSKY: If we were to describe you now, your sort of deep inner feelings about yourself, what would that be, how would you describe yourself? Not the person you put in the world, but the thing you protect.
ARMSTRONG: Right, right. I think that I`m really working on liking me. Loving me is a ways off.
PINSKY: Is this where a lot of the stuff went down? Is this that house?
ARMSTRONG: Yes, this is that house.
PINSKY: And you still feel safe here?
ARMSTRONG: I do, you know, interestingly enough I think for a lot of people, I loved my husband very much, even until the end, and I miss him terribly, so you know, there`s, for me, there`s a lot of his energy here, and that wasn`t always bad energy. You know, when he was good, he was great, and so I miss him and I feel a piece of him here.
PINSKY: You come to the ER with a horrible blowout. Why didn`t they report that to Social Services?
ARMSTRONG: I did not go into the ER. I had had LASIK just recently, and I was in a lot of pain, but I didn`t go to the ER. I waited and went to see my LASIK doctor because I thought it may have just been a complication from my LASIK that I was in so much pain.
PINSKY: What did you tell them happened?
ARMSTRONG: Russell had suggested that I tell them that my daughter had kicked me in the eye.
PINSKY: And that`s what you said?
ARMSTRONG: And so I said she had kicked me and -
PINSKY: So you never got the right attention.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. You know, fortunately I ended up getting two amazing surgeons to repair the orbital floor blowout -
PINSKY: But they repaired - they repaired your fracture, but didn`t repair your heart.
PINSKY: Right. But the way you disconnect from those feelings is you shut down. You just keep - you distance yourself from it. How do you manage that? Do you just go out of body or do you - just don`t have them or you push them down? How do you manage?
ARMSTRONG: I think I push them down a lot.
PINSKY: Pushed them down.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. I have to - I really struggle with that, too, with the suicide, that I find myself trying so hard to compartmentalize it and not think about it.
PINSKY: Compartmentalize. Got it.
ARMSTRONG: Because it`s so painful to go through all of the myriad of emotions that I feel surrounding that, and I`m sure that I`d do the same with my early experiences as a child. But I`m, you know, I`m in treatment, though, so I`m really working on things. I`m trying to get past them.
PINSKY: Good. You also describe in your book the abandonment issues and the chasing after idealized males and things. That`s sort of the setup for something we call love addiction. Have you ever thought about that? Are you a love addict?
ARMSTRONG: Potentially, yes. I`m trying to learn to love me right now and not love people -
PINSKY: Out there.
ARMSTRONG: -- outside of me, but other than my family obviously and friends. But I do think that what Russell and I had, and you`re better to tell me, was more of a love addiction. I think it`s the deepest, most dramatic love I`ll ever feel in my life, but I don`t know that it was ever a healthy love.
PINSKY: No. Right. It was a pathological love.
PINSKY: We say a lightning bolt as opposed to butterflies. Lightning bolt is not good.
ARMSTRONG: A very good, very good description.
PINSKY: Not good for drug - for love addicts. Drug addict is the other population I deal with.
ARMSTRONG: All right. I`m sure they all have similar origins.
PINSKY: So you would - as you were growing up and you`re a teenager, young adult, you would fall in love very, very easily?
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. I was always the whirlwind, you know, desperately and deeply in love, and when those were over, the biggest heartaches you could ever feel. Way too fast. And people never - I have a lot of people that ask me like about when I describe falling in love with Russell or what I thought was falling in love, you know, it was exciting and dramatic and all of those things that probably are not a good sign of a healthy relationship.
PINSKY: All right. Now, coming up, Taylor talks for the first time about something she carries inside herself emotionally. I think we call it the wounded child Shana.
ARMSTRONG: Shana. Remember banana.
PINSKY: Shana Banana. That`s it. We`ll call it Shana.
Plus, Taylor confronts accusations from Russell`s family that she`s concocted all of this, that these are all lies. Stay with us.
PINSKY: We are back with the special edition of DR. DREW. I`m here in the studio with Taylor.
Now, Taylor, I want to thank you for sitting down and talking with me, really. It takes a lot of courage to sit down, open up, write the kind of book you`ve written. I had the opportunity to read the book, and I think a lot of people are going to get a bit out of it. But thank you for being here.
ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
PINSKY: But we`ve got some more tapes to look at, so I just want to say here you are. Thank you for being here. We`ll keep watching this tape. As Taylor knows, she and I sat down for what was really an intimate conversation about what goes on - what went on inside Taylor`s home. We talked a lot about the physical abuse she said she watched her dad inflict on her mom when she was a child. Watch this.
PINSKY: Your dad was abusive?
PINSKY: OK. You would chronicle dad beating your mom up?
PINSKY: More happened than that, right?
ARMSTRONG: I don`t know everything that happened. I have some pretty vivid memory of being very small. I`m sure that my mom has a lot more, but that`s -
PINSKY: And what happened when you were small?
ARMSTRONG: My earliest childhood memory was my father -
PINSKY: You know, when you`re - back to you were little now. It was something they - did you feel like - tell me what that feeling is. You were little. And what was that first memory?
ARMSTRONG: The first memory is I was in blue zip-up footed pajamas with a little teddy bear on the side and like many kids have, and I remember standing on the bed, trying to pull my father`s hair as he was abusing my mother. And she and I had been sleeping in the same bed together.
PINSKY: And did you get thrown or something? Did he throw you?
ARMSTRONG: No, not that I remember. I just remember trying to protect my mother and it was -
PINSKY: And you were like three years old? Two years old?
ARMSTRONG: Yes, small.
PINSKY: And as you talk about it, it sounds like you`re somewhat disconnected from those feelings. You`re describing something terrifying, horrible.
PINSKY: Do you ever explore those feelings?
ARMSTRONG: I`m really starting to work on that now.
ARMSTRONG: Because what I recognize is a lot of the things that allowed me to stay in an abusive relationship were the fact that I never worked on the little girl.
PINSKY: Was there sexual abuse, too? Is that what I`m -
ARMSTRONG: You know, I don`t know.
PINSKY: Feels like there is?
ARMSTRONG: You know, I`ve heard that, and not from any family member or from anyone.
PINSKY: No, no. You know, when a kid is - when a kid is exposed to that kind of violence, they become a good victim to perpetrators, they sense it somehow.
ARMSTRONG: And we definitely had those talks in my treatment as to whether that may have played a role in what`s going on. And fortunately I`m open to that, too, whatever I need to accept in order to move forward.
PINSKY: Let me ask you a tough question. Because kids that were sexually abused often become hypersexual at certain times in their lives. Did you ever have periods of -
ARMSTRONG: No. I would actually say I`m the reverse.
PINSKY: You`re sexually anorectic.
PINSKY: And even another classic pattern is to go back and forth between the two. So you go into love addiction. And when that love addiction fails, you act out sexually as a way of getting back at the guys, stuff like that happen to you?
ARMSTRONG: No. More of the other, repression.
PINSKY: So you stayed more anorectic, more anorectic.
PINSKY: Which is sad, too, for you.
PINSKY: Did that - did that come between you - come between you and Russell? Did he get angry about that?
ARMSTRONG: Sure. Yes. And especially when we would have episodes of emotional abuse or physical abuse, I would really shut down sexually.
PINSKY: Yes, of course.
ARMSTRONG: And I write about that in the book, too. Because then it would infuriate him and it would just - it became another cycle.
PINSKY: And then he claimed you were with somebody else and then here we go.
ARMSTRONG: Right, right. Because he couldn`t imagine how it is that you can`t have someone call you names and then still want to have sex with them. You know, he didn`t get that there was a connection there for me and needed to be emotional before it could be physical.
And so for him to be able to call me all kinds of names and then think he was going to have sex with me an hour later just wasn`t something I could -
PINSKY: No, I don`t think any woman could do that.
ARMSTRONG: Right. So - and I think for men maybe it`s easier, and it does feel like a protective mechanism. And that`s - you know, I`ll allow a lot of things in my life. I`m very - for some reason, I have always chosen people that are really strong who have a tendency to even be controlling.
PINSKY: Well, that your fantasy is that they`ll protect you and of course they become the abusers.
PINSKY: Yes, that`s the pattern.
ARMSTRONG: And you think that I always go for the knight in shining armor and then I wake up and realize that I am the one who`s being controlled.
PINSKY: No more.
ARMSTRONG: No more.
PINSKY: You can`t do it anymore.
ARMSTRONG: No more. I`m good being alone for the first time in my life.
PINSKY: And there we are. And Taylor is with me now in the studio. Are you still good?
ARMSTRONG: I`m good. I`m getting stronger every day. I`m really amazed how this journey has been good for me.
PINSKY: Writing this book.
ARMSTRONG: It was hard.
PINSKY: Is that the journey you mean or is it -
ARMSTRONG: Well you know, I`m also in therapy and I`m reading a lot, and -
PINSKY: I brought you a couple books today.
ARMSTRONG: You did. That was so nice of you to remember and I`m excited to get into those. And I just feel like I`m strong. I`m getting stronger I should say because I`m getting through each day and I realize I can do this. I can do this.
PINSKY: Now, I notice in the reunion show, a lot of the women were attacking you for writing this book now.
PINSKY: What`s your response to that?
ARMSTRONG: I can understand that people feel like it`s really soon. I think the difference is that this was a long time for me. You know, I had been in this for six years and this feels like it`s been an eternity. But at the same time, when I watched our show and I saw even during the course of our show, people do not understand the cycle. They don`t understand how -
PINSKY: Cycle of abuse.
ARMSTRONG: -- they don`t understand how you get caught in the cycle. It`s unfathomable to a healthy person. And so by writing it, I was able to start from ground zero, sorry to use that term, of my life.
PINSKY: Yes, of where you grew up, how you grew up.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, how I grew up.
PINSKY: So you were connecting the dots with the abuse you saw in childhood and the abuse you were victimized by later.
ARMSTRONG: Right. And even the abandonment issues along the way that caused me to sort of latch on to any boy I could get my hands on and then hold them so close to me, regardless of whether it was healthy for me or not, and recognizing how that happened.
PINSKY: Do you think that`s an unfamiliar story to other women out there? Some version of that?
ARMSTRONG: I think it`s more common than maybe people realize. But I do think it`s confusing. And I - when I talked to the therapist over at the crisis center where I have been a volunteer for a long time, they told me they have the hardest time explaining the cycle of abuse. And so this book really chronicles my story. And this isn`t - Russell wasn`t a bad person, he just happened to come into our relationship with some broken pieces.
PINSKY: Now, you met with a friend of, mutual friend now -
PINSKY: -- Judith Reagan and she called you out on that for defending him all the time. What did you say to her when she said he is a bad person, he did bad things to you. Why do you defend him?
ARMSTRONG: Because I see that I definitely believe there was some mental, some chemical imbalance in there and mental illness at play. And -
PINSKY: Is that what killed him, mental illness?
ARMSTRONG: You know, I don`t know. I mean, you and I talked about a little bit about those people that have the tendencies to have these extremes in their personality.
PINSKY: Like bipolar disorder or manic depression. So he may have had something like that.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. Maybe just one of these days, they - I don`t know.
PINSKY: And for people out there that want to learn something about that, I mean, in bipolar or manic - what used to be called manic depression, they were actually more likely to kill themselves when they`re manic, when they`re super high, and working excessively will do these impulsive things. And it`s kind of what happened with him. You look very sad talking about this.
ARMSTRONG: Oh, yes. It`s is sad.
PINSKY: It`s sad just even talking about it, yes.
ARMSTRONG: It`s sad, yes.
PINSKY: But then we have people out there - now, it`s interesting even as I - I`m just talking to you the way I talk to anybody about these kinds of conditions, you have the special burden that even talking about this, so you`ve chosen to do it publicly, let`s be honest, you know? So - and you`ve done - you`ve chosen to do it soon after somebody`s death -
PINSKY: -- you get attacked.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, I do, absolutely, I do. It`s been puzzling to me, and I`m interested to get your perspective on, number one, what this does to other women out there that are in a domestic violence relationship.
PINSKY: What the abuse does?
ARMSTRONG: No. What this my being attacked and my being questioned on everything has me very concerned for other women that maybe they`re only - only in a verbally abusive relationship and their self esteem and self confidence is getting destroyed daily.
PINSKY: And so you - you getting attacked further somehow further erodes their ability to stand up for themselves.
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. If I had - I had orbital reconstructive surgery, which I can bring and going to now bring out the CAT scans, the doctors` reports, the hospital reports.
PINSKY: We`re going to talk about that a little later. But you - somebody from your camp came in and said you are this afternoon going to put together a medical dossier that chronicles what happened to you physically as a result of this abuse.
PINSKY: Which will put some of the criticism to rest. But people - people like to attack you.
ARMSTRONG: It shouldn`t have to get this far. I don`t need to see a physical wound on a woman to believe that she`s been emotionally, physically or financially abused.
PINSKY: So you`re saying you wrote this book for other women?
ARMSTRONG: I did.
PINSKY: What if people say nonsense? You wrote it for yourself.
ARMSTRONG: I knew it all, so I didn`t need to write it for myself.
PINSKY: But, you know, I mean you benefit from the book. You do. OK. You benefit from the book and - and you also hope to help others.
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely, I do. What I want people to see is if it can happen to me, it can happen to you, and get out before I did.
PINSKY: When we come back, Taylor stays with me. She`s here for the entire hour and we`re going to find out how her daughter Kennedy is coping with all that`s gone down in this family. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When does the book come out anyway? How long has it been?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop. Sorry, next question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you think it is inappropriate that she wrote a book?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been like a hot minute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Taylor Armstrong is here tonight in a very special edition of our program.
And first off, this segment we`re going to talk a bit about your daughter, five-year-old Kennedy, that was - she was five when this all went down, when she lost her dad.
ARMSTRONG: That`s right.
PINSKY: Did she have any idea what was happening?
ARMSTRONG: Unfortunately she was with me, and I went up to the house and she stayed in the car with the assistant because I had been having these - just terrible eerie feelings all day.
And when I came out away from the home - away from the house, I should say, I fell into the street and, you know, I was on the asphalt just crying and screaming in hysterics as any normal person would be, and all of a sudden I just thought Kennedy is in the car, and what am I going to do, how am I going to get her out of here before - I didn`t know the course of action that it takes before a body is removed or the police are going to show up.
So it was just that moment of terror where I had to kind of switch into mommy mode for a minute and figure out how to get her to safety.
PINSKY: Did she see you in the street crying?
ARMSTRONG: She did.
PINSKY: How did she react to that?
ARMSTRONG: She turned to my assistant and said did my daddy do something dumb.
PINSKY: Wow. A five-year-old.
PINSKY: What did you - what did he say? What did you say?
ARMSTRONG: My assistant said, you know, I think your mommy will tell you later -
PINSKY: Did you?
ARMSTRONG: -- and you`ll talk about it later. That night we were all just exhausted and I didn`t speak to her about it.
PINSKY: Was she asking questions at that point?
ARMSTRONG: Not really. I stayed there at the house for a really long time. And she went back with - her nanny came and picked her up and we - but the next day she did say what happened, and why were you crying last night -
PINSKY: What did you say?
ARMSTRONG: -- and I said daddy got sick and daddy died. And I -
PINSKY: How did she react?
ARMSTRONG: Very matter of fact.
PINSKY: Shut down.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. She just said, oh.
PINSKY: That`s a familiar thing for you. Shut down.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, yes. And then later we talked about it again, and she asked me how and started asking more questions as time went on.
PINSKY: What did you tell her?
ARMSTRONG: I told her that daddy was sick in his mind and it`s different that how you and I get sick because not knowing how to handle a situation like this, I first just said daddy got sick and he died because I wanted to protect her from the truth. And then she said, well, what if you get sick and you die? And then, you know, my grandma and grandpa get sick and then she was naming every person in our lives, and I realized that she didn`t understand -
PINSKY: Well, she was scared.
ARMSTRONG: -- that it wasn`t a cold. And, you know, all of a sudden everybody died except for her in this scenario.
ARMSTRONG: And so I had to be a little more clear with her, that he had problems in his mind and he died.
PINSKY: Did you talk about suicide specifically?
ARMSTRONG: We didn`t. And I`ve met with grief counselors since who - some suggest I tell her the truth and some don`t, and I`d love to get your opinion on it because -
PINSKY: My opinion generally is to be gentle but honest with kids. I mean if she asks you real, specific stuff, just try to be - try to be honest. I mean, children are very resilient, and then help her deal with whatever feelings go along with that.
But, again, you know, whoever is working with you, follow their direction by all means. By all means.
Did she ever come to understand that there was a suicide? Does she - hasn`t really asked those questions?
ARMSTRONG: No, she really hasn`t. And I don`t know right now that she understands that you can stop your own life. I`m just uncomfortable with her even knowing that because I want her to enjoy her life and not think that people can -
PINSKY: I get it. But don`t try to protect her from feelings, that`s you protecting you from your feelings.
ARMSTRONG: Oh, OK.
PINSKY: You know what I`m saying? That`s Shana banana not being able to tolerate things.
PINSKY: I`m running out of time in this segment, but I want you to talk about how you think the book - we`ll pick up next segment, how you think the book when she reads it just might affect her when she comes a time she can read.
OK. Now, also, we`re going to talk about Russell`s family - Russell`s friends and family who are outraged over Taylor`s accusations. They call her a liar and they even blame her for his death. We`re going to get to all of that and talk to Taylor about it. You guys have me in the crosshairs as well. So stay with us. We`ll get into it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Tonight, Taylor Armstrong tells all. During season two of Bravo`s "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," the cameras began to show that Taylor`s family life and marriage might not be as perfect as she wanted it to seem. But as Taylor began to tell others about her abuse, many doubted her story.
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, REALITY STAR, "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": You said everything. Be careful what you say.
PINSKY: Russell`s sister, Lori, is furious Taylor wrote a book so soon after Russell`s death. She spoke to the "Today" show.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We spoke to Russell Armstrong`s sister. She said her brother denied ever abusing Taylor and asked, quote, "Why is she doing this when he is dead and can`t defend himself?"
PINSKY: And Russell`s lawyer, Ronald Richards, tweeted this, quote, "The only way Taylor Armstrong can prove Russell battered her is by releasing her medical records that coincide with her plastic surgery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): All right, Taylor. Here we go. I`ve got a lot of stuff to talk about here with you.
PINSKY: First of all, I want to talk about the book and how do you think your daughter responded to it, but first, I want you to go ahead and respond to that attorney`s statement there. He`s saying you need to release your medical records.
ARMSTRONG: And that is such a coincidence, because I`m going to pick up my CAT scan today from the imaging company. And, I`m having my medical records copied right now. So, I had an overall (ph) blowout. I`ve had titanium mesh implant holding at my right eye.
PINSKY: The bottom part of the eyeball right in here is fractured from significant blow.
ARMSTRONG: Right. And it just happened in that last big boxing match. And, it`s typically happening in bar fights, yes. So, I`m going to release those records. So, I guess, we can move on from there.
PINSKY: But so, you`ll put out -- all of that out once and for just the way attorney is asking.
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. Yes.
PINSKY: All right. And before we finish the last segment, I was talking about your daughter and how she might respond to this book. My understanding is you actually want her to know the story, right?
ARMSTRONG: I don`t know that I want her to know the gory details. And I only put a few, a handful of those stories in the book because I need for people to understand how the cycle works, and how it starts out, and you get slowly involved, and then, all of a sudden, you wake up and you don`t know how you got there.
But mine started at a very young age. My daughter saw or heard a lot more than I thought she did. And I`m concerned that we might repeat the cycle in this family once again, and I`m going to keep that from happening by happening these conversations with her.
PINSKY: And she, at the end there, saw the violence, right?
ARMSTRONG: She heard --
PINSKY: That`s what it really got you.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. She saw the verbal abuse. She didn`t see the physical, thank God. But, at the same time, you know, recently, she said to me in the car, because I`m always telling her, don`t you miss daddy, daddy loved you, because I want her to have a positive image of her father as far as their relationship went.
ARMSTRONG: What I don`t want her to think is that our marriage was healthy, because it wasn`t. And so, she said to me, I was really pushing her one day in the car, I`m like, don`t you miss daddy. I miss daddy. I really miss daddy, and I was really trying to encourage her. And she said, why would you miss a boy that screamed at you all the time?
PINSKY: Wow. Out of the mouths of babes.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. And that moment, I thought --
PINSKY: That`s interesting.
ARMSTRONG: She`s five, and gets it. I`m 40 and I didn`t. So, I don`t know. Like, she`s more insightful than I am, but --
PINSKY: And yet, you`re still in a situation in the public where people still seem to enjoy abusing you.
PINSKY: I just checked Twitter today, and I noticed that I`m getting just completely attacked. And what they`re saying is that I`m buying your BS, and you hypnotized me or whatever.
ARMSTRONG: I have some amazing powers.
PINSKY: You do, indeed. It`s really quite extraordinary. So far, I`m buying it.
PINSKY: But that this is all fabricated. You`re just looking for a way out. You heard it all, right?
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. I`ve heard it all.
PINSKY: What is all that?
ARMSTRONG: You know, I don`t know. I`d love for you to tell me what it is. But I also want to say, Russell was arrested for spousal abuse with his first wife. He had court ordered anger management. This is all documented prior to ever meeting me. I mean, he personally told me he had been in 250 straight fights. He sent one of my friend`s husbands, who`s a 6`4," 6`5," 220-pound guy to the hospital.
PINSKY: Let`s play devil`s advocate, just because somebody fights with men doesn`t mean necessarily they`re going to beat women.
ARMSTRONG: Spousal abuse, first wife.
PINSKY: I`m just saying. That is good evidence. And by the way, one thing I always tell people getting in new relationships is check the medicine cabinet, check the court records.
PINSKY: Because that will tell you a lot.
PINSKY: Did you do that?
ARMSTRONG: No. I was -- you know, I have lightning bolt love problems.
PINSKY: I guess you do.
ARMSTRONG: It wouldn`t have mattered to me. I mean, I ran into his - - one of his former girlfriends in front of a bagel store in Brentwood, and she said to me, you seem like a nice person, you should run for the hills. And she said, I promise you that he`s recording you. And if you drive his car, you should just be aware especially that he`s recording you.
PINSKY: That happened?
ARMSTRONG: After I found the first tape recording device under the desk in the house, I thought I`ve never -- I would have never believed that was true. You know, how you run into old girlfriend and they say bad things about the guy because they`re miserable or whatever.
PINSKY: What did you do with that information?
ARMSTRONG: Nothing. I called him. I was so upset. And he explained it away and I bought right into it.
PINSKY: Taylor, maybe it`s the whole -- maybe it`s the resentment towards the one percent or something, and people look at what Beverly Hills housewives seemed to represent in value, and that upsets people, do you think? I mean, therefore, when you take a fall, they want to really go at you.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. Yes. Well, I understand (ph) it`s reality TV, and, so, people have their opinions about that, and then, the persona of Beverly Hills.
PINSKY: And speaking of that, you did some stuff on TV. I haven`t seen this footage yet, but apparently, there are some erratic behavior. Can I watch this?
PINSKY: By the way, you tell me what stage in your sort of situation when we look at this from Bravo`s "Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s starting to go crazy.
ARMSTRONG: Feel like I`m breaking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are. You`re having a nervous breakdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, there`s other stuff bothering you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have all protected you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we don`t say that he hits you. Because we don`t say that he broke your jaw or that he beat you up, and he hit you. We don`t say that, but now, we said it.
ARMSTRONG: He has hurt me so much! You have no idea what he has done to me. You have no idea what he has done to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So, what`s going on in those? How do we understand that? I saw the desperation. That`s for sure.
ARMSTRONG: And so much fear. It came out on the show this year that there was abuse going on. It was something that I was trying to hide from the reality show I was on, and when it came out, I knew something was going to go bad. I didn`t know what, but I knew that --
PINSKY: So, you went on the attack when people started outing the stuff?
ARMSTRONG: I think I just went a little crazy. I was so freaked out by the fact that all of this was going to come out on television, and what was then going to happen to me.
PINSKY: I mean, that was the --
ARMSTRONG: No. I wanted the cameras to keep him from getting out of control. I didn`t want the world to know what was happening.
PINSKY: And so, the fact it was all coming out, you thought he`d beat you even more?
ARMSTRONG: Yes. I thought he might do something really drastic.
PINSKY: Like what?
ARMSTRONG: Kill me or --
PINSKY: You were afraid for your life?
ARMSTRONG: He told me several times, "I`m afraid I`m going to kill you one day," because he would get so out of control with me, and it was like a loving thing he would say days after a bad experience.
PINSKY: That`s not a loving thing.
ARMSTRONG: A concern like it was his concern. "I`m afraid I`m going to get so angry one of these days I`m going to kill you."
PINSKY: "I`m afraid I`m going to kill you" is not what somebody says who loves you.
PINSKY: That`s what a very not well person says -- I`m so sorry for you. I`m sorry you went (ph) through that.
ARMSTRONG: But there was just a lot of paranoia, and I know people don`t get it. But from the recording --
PINSKY: And let`s think about it, and then, on the heels of that, so you have this horrible terror you live with, and now, you`re public about it, now you`re writing books about it, and then, you get attacked again by the public.
PINSKY: Isn`t that awful?
ARMSTRONG: Doesn`t make me feel very good. It`s taken a lot of courage for me to go out there and speak out about this. And I`m really hoping that`s going to help people, but I`m afraid that all this negative energy is going to hurt people.
PINSKY: That`s my concern. So, how do we make sure -- makes me sad because there are a lot of women in your situation, and we save a very special aggression for women, don`t we, in this culture.
ARMSTRONG: What`s that about? What do you think?
PINSKY: I think it`s complicated. I think it`s something -- I think we fear, a lot of people are afraid of women, afraid of women`s sexuality, and if women open themselves to aggression, people will deliver it, with social media and stuff, it`s the perfect mechanism to let it go. So, I`ll visit you guys all on Twitter and you can just attack the hell out of me, which I know you`re going to do for merely having a conversation with Taylor.
All right. So, coming up now, Taylor talks to me about what people have been calling a secret alter ego. I just call it a scared little girl named Shana Banana (ph). And I got to know her a little bit, and I got to see how Shana gets protected. I think Kennedy gets protected the same way Shana does. We`ll talk about that when we get back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Here`s what I see.
ARMSTRONG: OK. Tell me.
PINSKY: A scared little girl?
PINSKY: Would that describe it?
ARMSTRONG: Perfectly. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: I`m back with Taylor Armstrong. And she and I sat down for what turned out to be a really intense couple hour one-on-one interview in her home. And, I want you to see what we discovered about Shana. We discovered that that, in fact, was her birth name. Shana was this girl, this little girl, who would witness all of that trauma in your own family of origin that now she carried and protected within her. Watch this.
PINSKY: So, her name is Shana.
PINSKY: So, the little girl is Shana.
PINSKY: And Taylor is who we put in the world.
ARMSTRONG: Right. Who became --
PINSKY: Quite a disconnect.
ARMSTRONG: -- the, I guess, the grown up version that never emotionally grew up and brought the little girl along with me.
PINSKY: Does Taylor protect Shana? Is that how that works?
ARMSTRONG: You know, I think, for a long time, she was just ashamed of her, and so, she put her away.
PINSKY: So Shana had all the shame?
ARMSTRONG: Right. Right.
PINSKY: Does she still have the shame?
ARMSTRONG: Probably some of it. You know, I think that lot of my --
PINSKY: You`re so disconnected from her.
ARMSTRONG: Well, I`m working on it. I mean, I`m journaling about it. I`m writing about it.
PINSKY: About her?
PINSKY: You have to hook Taylor and Shana up. I mean, it`s all you. You can`t compartmentalize like that and be healthy.
ARMSTRONG: Well, I think that`s part of writing the book. I could have started it from housewives.
PINSKY: No, it was very courageous. The book was very courageous, but it seemed very up here, which is you got tons of horse power, I see that. You`re very smart. You understand these things intellectually, but Shana is over here somewhere. Shana, right?
PINSKY: Shana`s like -- Shana is barely at the table.
ARMSTRONG: Right. Right. You know, I think it`s been helpful, though, having a child of my own. And I think that`s one of the reasons that I really have been plowing through my treatment because I recognize that if Kennedy, my little girl, had shame from her childhood, it would be devastating.
PINSKY: Well, she has to, right? Her dad did bad stuff to her mom.
PINSKY: And the child, of course, feels responsible for that. And Shana is actually there holding her dad back but couldn`t do it.
ARMSTRONG: Uh-huh. Cycle.
PINSKY: The cycle of abuse. It is so common for people to be through trauma, then compartmentalize it, and then protect those feelings. Be careful when dealing with Kennedy, because, sometimes, the feeling you`re trying to protect her from are really Shana Banana`s feelings that you don`t want to feel. That make sense?
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. And I think that is exactly a big part of it is I don`t want her to have any of the problems I had. So, let me just --
PINSKY: She seems like a very strong little girl.
PINSKY: And she didn`t go through what Shana went through.
ARMSTRONG: No, she didn`t.
PINSKY: Yes. So, she --
ARMSTRONG: And I`m going to keep a very close eye on her to make sure that she doesn`t.
PINSKY: OK. I`ve got a ton of questions here for you.
PINSKY: So, let`s get into it.
ARMSTRONG: Let`s do it.
PINSKY: First of all, should Bravo have aired this season with the horrible tragedy that went on or should they -- A, should they have aired it, and B, if they decided to air it, should they have left Russell out?
ARMSTRONG: It was definitely hard to watch Russell.
PINSKY: Should they have aired it?
ARMSTRONG: You know, in the end, I think they were right.
PINSKY: OK. Because?
ARMSTRONG: Because we`re making this a conversation now. We`re telling a story.
PINSKY: About abuse?
PINSKY: Is it disrespectful to Russell and his family?
ARMSTRONG: I think they feel it is. I`m part of his family, too, though.
PINSKY: Interesting. Why did he sign for this? You wanted to stop the abuse. Why did he allow it to happen? If he knew he`s an abuser, why did he let the cameras come in?
ARMSTRONG: He was incredibly narcissistic and very much loved -- he loved it. He was on Google alert every single day. He loved to see his name in the press.
PINSKY: So, he liked it, too.
ARMSTRONG: He liked it.
PINSKY: What do you say to people that say you should have quit the show when all of this horrible stuff happened?
ARMSTRONG: I think it`s a lot like staying in an abusive relationship when you have a child. As long as I was there, I thought I could keep kind of navigating the situation.
PINSKY: But no, I`m saying, once things got bad, I guess, it happened after you wrapped, huh? The Russell suicide --
ARMSTRONG: Oh, correct. Yes. After we wrapped, yes.
PINSKY: So, you couldn`t really quit. Could you pull out at any way?
ARMSTRONG: Not at that point. It was all in the can.
PINSKY: OK. And Russell`s sister is saying a lot of nasty stuff. She`s saying that you fabricated this. That you`re responsible -- I`m hearing various things, that you`re responsible for his death.
PINSKY: What`s going on there? What do you say to that?
ARMSTRONG: Well, I mean, you know better than anyone, someone commits suicide, Everyone wants to find someone to blame, and you know, it`s very confusing to all of us. I wish there was someone to blame, but there`s not. And, you know, I hate to have to even say this out loud, but she lives halfway across the country and was a meth addict for five years.
I was married to Russell for six. We put her into treatment at Malibu Beach Recovery Center, and took six months of her life. She was disconnected from her own children during the time she was addicted to meth. And if she would just back off from me, I wouldn`t have to keep saying that, but it`s the truth.
And so, I don`t really appreciate her acting like she had any insight into our life, because the only thing she ever communicated to Russell was when she needed money.
PINSKY: OK. So, we`re a news program so I`ve got to point out HLN can`t confirm or deny what Taylor is reporting to it.
ARMSTRONG: She`s already confirmed it.
PINSKY: Let me play further devil`s advocate and say, fantastic, she did six months of recovery. Part of recovery is rigorous honesty. Now, in her rigorous honest program has her stepping forward and saying these things.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. That`s good, except that we didn`t have -- we were only married for six years, and she was not in treatment for five of it. So, I`m not sure how much she knew was going on in our relationship when she had her own struggles. And I do hope that her treatment has worked out for her.
But at the same time, I don`t think she should act like she knows so much about a relationship that was halfway across the country when she was stuck in an addictive situation.
PINSKY: Have you had any relationship with her? I mean, you guys --
ARMSTRONG: No, never.
PINSKY: Never any relationship?
PINSKY: Did Russell keep you two apart in some way?
ARMSTRONG: No. He didn`t have a close relationship with her. They had a lot of turmoil throughout our relationship.
PINSKY: Because of her using?
ARMSTRONG: Yes, absolutely. Her behavior was all over the place. She was erratic. I mean, I don`t need to tell you, but I don`t appreciate that she keeps saying these things when she doesn`t know what she`s talking about.
PINSKY: And I want to go back around one more time about the timing of this book.
PINSKY: I`m not sure I heard you really answer the question really in a way that -- I want you to try to dig and be honest with me, because the more honest you can be, the more people are going to accept it.
PINSKY: Why now? Why write the book now?
ARMSTRONG: Well, the eye injury was on the show. So, in one of the final episodes of the show, you see me there was a black eye. I`ve had the surgery. I took time off for the show. Plenty of nurses were coming into Cedar Sinai saying I love your show. You know, I had orbital reconstructive surgery. I couldn`t keep --
PINSKY: Did you pass that office of plastic surgery, right, or something or LASIK or something?
ARMSTRONG: I had a LASIK flap repair prior to having an eye --
PINSKY: You were pushing that all off as elective procedure. You didn`t -- oh, people knew?
ARMSTRONG: I didn`t. Yes. I wasn`t pushing it off as an elective procedure, because it was only one eye. I don`t think you get plastic surgery on one eye.
ARMSTRONG: But, it was orbital reconstruction with an implant. So, but you know, I knew it was going to come out in the tabloids. It was only a matter of time.
PINSKY: The abuse.
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. I mean, it was all over the show.
PINSKY: So, why not just address it in the tabloids? Why write a whole book about it.
ARMSTRONG: Because I wanted people to understand after I saw how difficult it was for my friends to understand why I would stay and how you can love someone and still be in danger and love someone and still be in danger. I wanted them to get the cycle. And so, I wanted to start from the beginning and tell it and hope that it`s going to get someone out earlier than I got out.
PINSKY: And what I learned tonight is you took it to a place where this thing goes, which is you feared for your life.
ARMSTRONG: I did.
PINSKY: And somebody did die.
ARMSTRONG: Uh-huh. And I`m sure you can speak to this, it`s a statistical miracle that I`m sitting here.
PINSKY: It is. You just heard Taylor makes some amazing claims against Russell`s sister. She now is furious Taylor has written this book, and she will be on the show telling her side of the story tomorrow. You do not want to miss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMSTRONG: He had a very strange personality in the fact that he was a narcissist. I mean, he would come and tell me all the time how much people loved him and adored him, and I don`t know if it was a part of a mental illness that was forming there, where he was really up and down all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That is from Bravo`s "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Taylor Armstrong is with me. And you just said something rally interesting during the break, may I share it?
ARMSTRONG: Of course.
PINSKY: That`s you`re afraid to go to a -- (inaudible) were saying about him, you loved him so much, in spite of everything that was going on, that you actually afraid to go to couple`s counseling.
ARMSTRONG: Right. What I knew was it was going to likely break us up, because as soon as someone professional got into the middle of this, they were going to say you two should not be together.
PINSKY: That made you unwilling to even go to a professional about it.
ARMSTRONG: Until, you know, we came to the point where we had to go - -
PINSKY: Again, there`s another point for anybody out there who`s got these issues, just thinking this way, no. And you end up with horrible, horrible outcomes. All right. A lot of people reached out for questions.
Let`s go to Judy on Facebook. "Please ask her if she`s doing the book to help battered women. Is she donating the proceeds to a charity?" Anything going to charity?
ARMSTRONG: Yes. I just finished my own 501 C3 filing for the Taylor Armstrong Foundation. I`ve worked with the crisis centers here in L.A., 1736, for several years now. And I have found a lot of other really cool shelters across the country there doing great work. And I wanted to be able to help different local shelters around the country.
PINSKY: Were you doing that work before you wrote the book?
ARMSTRONG: I was. Yes. 1736 for six, seven years now.
PINSKY: All right. While you were getting battered?
PINSKY: While you were getting battered, you were helping battered women shelter.
PINSKY: We`ll talk about that next interview. Here`s Twitter from ShakenNotBlurd, "How could Taylor hide bruises for that long without a friend calling the authorities? How can somebody else didn`t report it? Why didn`t social services get involved? That`s a good question.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. You know, there`s not (ph) always bruises.
PINSKY: So, you hid it from everybody? No one knew?
ARMSTRONG: No, my friends know. Some of my friends, yes.
PINSKY: Why didn`t they report it?
ARMSTRONG: Because I wouldn`t let them.
PINSKY: Some of them -- any of them professionals, because sometimes --
ARMSTRONG: No. All non-professional friends.
PINSKY: You made sure of it. No obligation to report.
ARMSTRONG: Lot of things that happen with it like, you know, I talk about in the book, one of his favorite things, say favorite, when he would get angry, a lot of times he`d grab me by the hair and bang my head against things on this side or this side, and that just doesn`t show. There`s many forms of abuse. He bit me once here, so you wear sleeves. It`s not -- those things are not uncommon.
PINSKY: Facebook, Lynn writes, "My sister was also a victim of domestic violence and people who judge have no clue what`s like for these women. So, Taylor should be happy her story didn`t end as my sister did. It`s been 24 years since I`ve been able to hug my sister. My niece was seven at that time, has to live knowing her daddy murdered her mommy. So, all you haters, better check yourself first. I`m in Team Taylor". I think that one speaks for itself.
ARMSTRONG: That chills (ph).
PINSKY: I`m sure you appreciate -- you know it ends in this situation -- in somebody dying or murder suicide often. I have one last question for you.
ARMSTRONG: Let`s hear it.
PINSKY: Given all you`ve been through with this program, being in a reality show, we have a dead person that you love, would you do it all over again?
ARMSTRONG: If I thought I could change the outcome of Russell committing suicide, I would not do it.
PINSKY: If you could save his life, you would not do it.
PINSKY: Do you think the show killed him?
ARMSTRONG: No. No.
PINSKY: I appreciate you being here. I appreciate this interview. I hope other people come to know you a little better through this. I think you`ve been very forthcoming. It`s nothing -- for those of you that are haters out there and want to say she`s fabricating this, I can only say that I deal with lots of women in these situations and the things she`s telling me are completely consistent with what most victims are describing.
So, my heart goes out to you. Thanks for watching, everybody, and we`ll see you all next time.