Taylor Armstrong: Russell Spied on Me

In her new book, the Real Housewives star opens up about her marriage -- and reveals just how controlling her former husband was

In her new memoir Hiding from Reality, Taylor Armstrong pulls the curtain back on her six-year marriage to the late Russell Armstrong. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star opened up about being physically abused by her venture capitalist husband shortly after filing for divorce in July 2011. One month later, Russell committed suicide. Now in her book, Taylor reveals just how obsessed Russell was with having control over her.

In an excerpt obtained by Us Weekly, Armstrong writes that Russell began spying on her soon after they began dating in 2005. It started with Russell secretly doing a background check on her, posing as a potential employer to get info on her past. Then she discovered a tape recorder hidden under her desk.

"I'm just trying to get to know you because I've been burned," Russell said when she confronted him.

For the remainder of their relationship, Taylor assumed that she was being recorded whenever she was at home or in her car.

"I was always careful to make sure the content of my conversations was very clear," she recalls.

Then a few years later, Armstrong discovered yet another shocking breach of privacy: All her emails had been set up to forward to Russell the moment she received them. By that time, she was afraid to confront him, or even to cancel the email forwarding.

"I knew he was going to do what he wanted to do no matter how I reacted," she writes.

Hiding from Reality also goes into graphic detail about the physical and verbal abuse Taylor suffered. She describes one fight in which Russell called her a "whore" and a "bitch" in front of their young daughter Kennedy. During another argument, he grabbed Taylor's head and banged it against the car window while they were driving. And that black eye that sent her to the hospital? Taylor writes that 40 percent of the bone structure around her eye was damaged when Russell punched her, so much that the hospital told her she might have a permanently sunken eye even after reconstructive surgery. It was that last injury, says Armstrong, that "snapped her out of the spell" Russell had over her.

The Armstrongs' marriage was uniquely public, and tragic. But equally tragic is the fact that many women live with violent partners and don't have the courage to walk away -- the courage that it took Taylor Armstrong six years, and a broken face, to summon. Hopefully, her book will serve as a wake-up call to help people in her former situation to get out of it.

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