"Housewives" star Taylor Armstrong details abuse

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In her first interviews since her husband’s suicide, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Taylor Armstrong is detailing abuse she claims she suffered from her spouse, including punches, pulled hair and death threats.

Armstrong spoke to TV show “Entertainment Tonight” in a story airing on Wednesday, and she appears on daytime talk show “Dr. Phil” on Thursday to discuss her plight that culminated in Russell Armstrong hanging himself at home in August, only weeks before a new season of the show debuted on September 5.

In an excerpt posted on “Entertainment Tonight’s” website, Armstrong tells the show’s Nancy O’Dell that Russell Armstrong physically abused her “maybe 20 times” throughout their marriage.

“The first time he ever really harmed me physically, I was pregnant with Kennedy (their daughter), and he grabbed me by the throat and held me up against a wall,” Armstrong said.

The reason, she said, was because she had cooked his kids a pizza, but hadn’t served them vegetables along with it.

From there, the assaults escalated, but he would wait until the two were alone, perhaps in their car. Armstrong said her husband would hide his abuse by grabbing or hitting her head so that any welts would be covered by her hair. “Russell was very careful about how he would do things,” she said.

Taylor Armstrong is a key member of the show about wealthy and pampered women living in posh Beverly Hills. Her marriage troubles with Russell Armstrong were expected to be a key story in the second season that was taped earlier this year.

But on August 15, Russell Armstrong was found dead at home, age 47. The show debuted as planned, but with a new segment in which the other cast members, excluding Taylor Armstrong, talked about his suicide.

“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which airs on the Bravo cable network, has continued to run with Taylor appearing in episodes that show her having a nervous breakdown as her marriage collapses. But tape of Russell has been edited out.

Taylor filed for divorce in July, but until now she has not spoken in any interviews. On “Entertainment Tonight,” she details a final blow to her eye that led to her estrangement from Russell. That punch fractured bones in her face, and medical tests showed damage in her brain.

“When I finally showed him the MRI, he just put it down and started to cry,” Armstrong said. “I think it was him having to come to terms with the fact this had gone on far too long.

She said she did not speak out during the marriage because she loved her husband and did not want him to go to jail. But now, she said that she hopes her story helps other women who are suffering abuse from their own husbands.

Editing by Jill Serjeant