The new issue of Us Magazine contains an excerpt of Hiding From Reality, the new book written by Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills cast member Taylor Armstrong. Reading about her late husband's cruelty, abuse, and assaults in Taylor's own words is absolutely heartbreaking. In fact, the Us story is titled, "I Thought He Might Kill Me."
Taylor writes that Russell Armstrong would quite often physically assault her in the car, sometimes while driving.
He would grab my hair and bang my head against the side of the car between the two doors, or against the glass of the passenger-side window while he was driving, because it made his point to me but didn't leave a visible mark.
Often, after these violent attacks, Russell would be upset with himself, Taylor claims.
One night, looking remorseful, he suggested, "The next time I hit you, you should hit me back."
Taylor believed he was serious about that.
About a month later, he was banging my head against the window of the car as he drove us home from a party at which I had angered him. I remembered what he had told me, and so I reached over and half-hit, half-pushed at his face with the palm of my left hand. He stopped banging my head, but when he turned to look at me, his face was flushed and consumed by an expression of pure, murderous rage…
"Don't ever do that again because I almost killed you," he said. "One of these days, I'm afraid I'm going to kill you."
Rough stuff. And it was happening when Taylor was approached to star in Real Housewives. But, according to Taylor, she didn't dismiss the idea of being filmed because she thought it might help: "I figured that having my life on camera would encourage Russell to control his temper and help our relationship. This may sound delusional, given all I had been through, but my dream was that Russell would change."
Additionally sickening: Taylor reveals that Russell was cruel to their daughter, Kennedy. Taylor would often sleep in Kennedy's bed, and Kennedy became protective of Taylor. Once, when Kennedy fell asleep in the master bedroom, Russell came home and flew into a rage.
"Your mom's a whore," he yelled. "Your mom's a bitch!" Kennedy started to cry hysterically.
But the most gut-wrenching episode Taylor writes about happened last June, after she returned from Lisa Vanderpump's daughter Pandora's bachelorette party in Las Vegas. Russell accused Taylor of having sex with a Chippendales dancer. Then he punched her in the eye.
The pain was excruciating. I could tell that something was very wrong with my vision. This whole time, Russell was glaring at me. "You're so dramatic," he said. "You're fine." [Tests] revealed that 40 percent of my orbital floor, the bone that supports the eye, had been fractured. "You need to have orbital reconstructive surgery," my doctor said. "This is not a small thing." My doctor went on to tell me that I would need a titanium implant beneath my eye.
While our society has a seemingly insatiable appetite for "reality" television, we are aware, to some extent, that we're not shown everything; what we see is usually "real" in that it is actually happening, and yet carefully planned out, edited and directed for maximum entertainment value. But knowing that Taylor's life was being filmed for a silly entertainment show as she was suffering violent assaults just doesn't sit right somehow. How can we laugh at the drunken dinners without taking the shattered eye socket into account?
Often domestic violence is accompanied by secrecy, hiding, covering up. Was Bravo complicit in a cover-up, while claiming to present "reality"? And is Taylor still telling half-truths, even in her tell-all? In the Us story, Taylor recounts talking to Kennedy in the days after Russell Armstrong hung himself:
"Daddy got sick, and daddy died."
Truthful, perhaps, in a way, but the reality is so much more complicated than that.