As Real Housewives of New Jersey fans know, star Danielle Staub has a complicated past -- one she says includes "domestic violence" at the hands of her ex-husband Kevin Maher.
"I was severely abused," Staub, 47, tells UsMagazine.com of her marriage to Maher. "I was in fear for my life. I was visibly bruised, injured, scared and victimized."
Staub writes about Maher (whom she wed in 1988) in her new memoir The Naked Truth.
Featured prominently in season one of Real Housewives, Maher's own book, Cop Without a Badge, alleged that Staub was involved in kidnapping, extortion and drug use.
"The abuse started as soon as we were married," Staub tells Us. "He was very possessive...I was hospitalized several times. There is no way to describe how it feels to not have a safe place to go."
In October, Maher sued his ex-wife for $5 million over accusations she's made about him. "I can't talk too much about Kevin because I'm in court with him," Staub explains. "It's a really big case. "
Staub says there was "a lot of physical abuse, and then the emotional abuse that follows...We are talking days and days in a row before he was exhausted, or ran out of drugs, whatever it was that he was on."
Staub charges that her ex is still "obsessed" with her today, although they haven't seen one another in over a decade.
Yet the Bravo star concedes, "painful as it may be, Kevin was in my life for a reason. And for that I pray for him every day...I pray for everybody."
For his own part, Kevin Maher told UsMagazine.com that he's read excerpts from Staub's book and vehemently denies her accusations of abuse.
"Some of the things she has written...are just complete lies," Maher says. "This woman was never hospitalized by me." He says that he "never beat" or "attacked" Staub.
"I did hit her. It's true," he admits, claiming that it was "in self defense, pulling her off me" during a 1989 incident.
"I want to help people," Staub tells Us. "So many women are being abused," she adds. Speaking out, she explains, is "about empowering women to [make] decisions to leave...I survived this; I'm not a victim anymore. I'm a victor."
To read more from our exclusive interview with Danielle Staub, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands Wednesday.