updated 07/28/2011 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/28/2011 AT 8:15 AM ET
Taylor Armstrong’s troubled marriage was thrown into the spotlight last year on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But behind the frequent on-air spats lurked a darker reality.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Taylor, who filed for divorce from Russell Armstrong on July 15, reveals she was verbally and physically abused during their nearly six-year marriage.
“I felt like I was dying inside,” she says. “Now, there’s some sense of peace.”