There are a lot of people (Russell’s family, bloggers, other Real Housewives) who think, or suspect, Taylor Armstrong’s lying (there is plenty of evidence to suspect that she has lied about other things) when she talks about the abuse she suffered from ex-husband Russell Armstrong, and IF she is, that’s extremely sad and sick. But this situation is complicated, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that she’s not lying, or at least to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Those who think she’s lying about abuse at the hands her her deceased husband are using some facts from an injury she suffered this past summer right before Russell killed himself. There are some inconsistencies there, especially in regards to what she tweeted the day after her birthday, but Taylor’s response to these inconsistencies are consistent with things that can happen inside of an abusive relationship. So, on the surface, it might make sense to string these facts together and create your own narrative about what you believed happened. No one truly knows what happened June 12, 2011 except Taylor, Russell, and a fly on the wall (if there was one.)
In Taylor’s book Hiding From Reality, although she does seem cagey about a great many details in her life, her descriptions of the emotional and physical abuse that she experienced from Russell ring true. She also takes responsibility for her own role in the sick mess: according to Taylor, Russell gave her all the warning signs in the world that he was a messed up guy, but she liked the games they played with each other.
Russell was extremely possessive of Taylor, and every time she tripped up (like waiting 15 minutes to call him back because she was getting a facial) he would fly off the handle and threaten to leave. Taylor would then become desperate and do anything he asked to make him stay (never mind that these threats were bluffs, which she learned soon enough toward the end when he threatened to move out, but never did. By the time they did split up, according to Taylor, it was she who made the decision.) He reportedly first hit her when she was pregnant with Kennedy (she got pregnant about three months after they got together,) and then allegedly descended into a cycle of abuse.
Often, Taylor says, Russell would get angry because she was either too talkative (read, “flirty” or “airhead”) or not talkative enough (i.e. “rude”) when they went out on business dinners. If he was enraged enough at something Taylor did, he would allegedly slam her head in between the car and the car door when they left for the night, and then ram her head into the window as they drove home, enough abuse to inflict pain, but not enough to leave visible injury, according to Taylor. He would also bug her car, and her home office, and their bedroom. Taylor found out about his recording devices everywhere early on, and even confronted him about it, but Russell replied that he would let her tape him, if she wanted, and she knew it wasn’t something on the table to discuss. So she just lived with it. He must have obsessively listened to these tapes when he had the chance, because he knew every detail of her side of conversations when she called friends. She made a habit of parking and getting out of the car to talk to her friends and family.
Now, that’s all kind of messed up, if it’s all true, and honestly on camera Taylor acted like someone who was going through these events that she describes.
Now, on to the questions.
First, September 2011, after Russell killed himself (he was found hanging, but there was no suicide note, so there are still many mysteries surrounding his death. His business partner Alan Schram killed himself the next day, and Russell’s family have suspicions,) Taylor sold the above graphic photo (and several others) to Entertainment Tonight for what was later reported was a $125,000 payday.
[Retraction] Originally, we thought Entertainment Tonight made it clear that the images they purchased were taken after surgery, not the night Taylor says she was hit, but, upon reviewing the episode, they do claim the pics were taken the night of her injury (which, according to Taylor, caused no bruising,) and Taylor does not correct them in the interview.
“How do you feel about the pictures of that night being out there?”
Taylor: “I feel like they’re pretty hard to look at, but I also feel like they send a pretty loud message that, regardless of how someone looks on the outside, you probably don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.”
Here she is on E.T. last fall:
To prove that she suffered “orbital floor blowout” (which had to be repaired with a titanium plate to hold her eye up) Taylor published this medical document on Facebook. She later removed it because so many people claimed she was lying:
Taylor tweeted June 12th, the day the incident is supposed to have occurred, “@TaylorArmstrong Now we’re pool side at the 4 seasons and i am thinking of never leaving … i had the BEST birthday party ever! thank you Russell and all my crazy pals who joined in on the mayhem.” When Dr. Phil questioned her about this tweet on his show, Taylor said Russell was telling her what to tweet. To many, this may sound like an excuse, but if she really was being abused, then it makes perfect sense that the abuser would tell her to let the world know that everything was fine. If she IS lying, then this is a despicable thing to do.
Here’s a timeline of events that Reality Tea compiled for June 2011, and early July. We checked them out, and this looks to be accurate:
So, let’s break this down. According to Taylor’s timeline, she had Lasik surgery in early June. She alleges Russell hit her on June 11, 2011 while vacationing with Russell – after a night of partying. On June 12, she was poolside tweeting. June 16th she was in Dallas visiting friends. On June 18th she was filming again, where all her castmates spent time with her. On June 22, she was at the hospital getting images related to her “Trauma and Right Orbital Fracture,” according to the medical records released this past Friday. Afterwards, the RHOBH cast went to Hawaii and Taylor was filmed talking with Dana Wilkey about wanting to leave Russell. On July 5th she had reconstructive surgery.
Stoopidhousewives.com published a detailed timeline of Taylor’s whole life, which is liberally cited, and includes an invitation Russell sent out for Taylor’s 40th birthday party to take place in Dallas, TX. Russell and Taylor were indeed in Dallas on that date. According to Taylor’s story, Russell also threw her a small, intimate bash at the Four Seasons on June 11, 2011 (according to her, she got hit that night after he turned on her in their room because he suspected she cheated.)
Between June 12, when Taylor says she was hit in the early morning, and afterwards had pain and couldn’t look down, or inward, and had blurred vision and July 5, when she had surgery to correct the damage. In between she was photographed at a number of events, and even filmed scenes for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Here’s Taylor’s account of those days according to her book:
According to Taylor, on her birthday she went to the Chippendale’s show with Lisa Vanderpump for Lisa’s daughter’s bachelorette party in Vegas. The night before Russell had told Taylor “Happy birthday, asshole. F**k you, you psychotic bitch” because she didn’t pay enough attention to him while filming RHBH at Adrienne Maloof’s shoe line launch. While she was filming with Lisa and the girls, she failed to call Russell, which angered him. The next day Taylor went home, where Russell had arranged a belated birthday celebration for her. He even got her a card apologizing for being a difficult person, with a pre-printed message that said “There are times when I’m moody, and no matter what you do or say, I’ll find fault . . . Well, it’s not you. It’s me. I just can’t understand what someone as wonderful as you could see in me, and I get scared. I’m afraid you’ll suddenly see all my flaws and fall out of love with me.”
This was the first time Russell had acknowledged that he was weak, and maybe scared to lose her, so Taylor said she felt warmed to him, and thought things would turn around. They had a good time, but when they got back to their hotel, Taylor says things soured, and he called her a whore and accused her of having bruises on her back from sleeping with Chippendales dancers. Then he, allegedly, “raised up on one elbow and punched me, hard, in the right eye.” Taylor said she could tell something was wrong, and the next day it still hurt, and she couldn’t loos down or inward, but there was no bruising. She also said her vision was blurred. They went to the doctor, and she told the doctor she was kicked in the face by her daughter on a swing. Russell allegedly later told their therapist, Dr. Sophy, that Taylor ran into his hand. Taylor says she had already told Dr. Sophy the truth of the story.
She had recently had LASIK surgery done, and claims that the blow crinkled her corneal flap that was still healing from the surgery, causing her vision to be blurry. She continued to get treatment for her eye, and “then on June 26, I was finally able to get a CAT scan to assess the full damage he had done to my eye. It revealed that 40 percent of my orbital floor, the bone that supports the eye, had been fractured. Not only that, but my muscle was trapped in the fracture, and that’s why I was having so much pain when I looked down.”
Taylor says she found the courage she needed to leave Russell for good after she saw that MRI, and realized that she could have lost her vision, or her life at his hands.
One of Russell’s ex-wives’ Barbara Fredrickson had a 2004 restraining order against Russell. It was 43-page document that said he “hit me … kicked me … blackened my eyes … threw crystal drinking glasses at me … and spit on me.” Probably even more disturbing, Russell was said to have hit his son Aiden, who is quoted as saying “”Daddy Russell hit me in the face.” Despite these records, Barbara herself has doubts about Taylor’s claims. She didn’t deny to Inside Edition that Russell was an abuser, but said that he is not abusive “to the extent that she is claiming, absolutely not. I’m repulsed by it. Obviously she didn’t love him.” If he did, as her order describes, hit, kicked, and blacked her eyes, then it DOES sound as bad as Taylor is claiming. Russell was previously arrested in 1997 on battery charges against Barbara.
July 2011 Russell also publicly admitted to abusing Taylor. He just admits to pushing her, not to abusing her on a regular basis, or causing the injury that led to her eye surgery.
Is is possible to have an orbital wall blowout and not bruise? Would any doctors like to weigh in? One thing that her medical records do prove is that she did have an orbital blow-out, and DID NOT have elective cosmetic surgery, as many of her critics first claimed.
Others are also critical of Taylors decision, even if all this is true, to publish a book and record interviews so soon after his death. On the other hand, others point out that a big reason why abused people don’t speak out (and/or leave their spouse) is because they’re afraid no one will believe them (if the abuser is still alive, they’re also afraid of retaliation.)
Taylor told The L.A. Times that Russell “did know, though, that the extent of the abuse would likely come out in the press,” she continued. “I spent a couple of days in Cedars-Sinai after [the eye] incident. There were nurses around. Plenty of people saw me in the operating room. The odds of keeping that under wraps, I mean, come on. He absolutely knew it was all going to come out. That was really something he was dreading.”
Taylor is currently fighting a $1.5 million dollar lawsuit that was brought against her and Russell last summer by My Medical Records.
Taylor has changed her name several times, and from some of the information published online, she appeared to be more involved with Russell’s shady business deals than she admits. If she’s dishonest about some things, is she being completely dishonest about this?
What do you think?