Denise Richards was the beautiful Midwestern girl who set her sights on Hollywood. She became a Bond Girl, and 2 years later got together with Charlie Sheen. They were red capet regulars, but she filed for divorce when pregnant with her second child. The battle raged on for more than four years, with accusations of drugs, pornography and prostitutes, and allegations that she stole her best friend’s husband. Denies and Charlie have called a truce. But on Christmas morning in Aspen Colorado, Charlie’s wife of 20 months, Brooke, called police saying that he had threatened her with a knife. They have twin baby boys. Denise got a collect call on Christmas Day from jail, her first reaction was is he ok? He told her that he and Brooke had got into a fight and Brooke called the cops, but he wanted to say Merry Christmas to the girls, Sammy and Lola. He called again when he got out of jail. Oprah recalls that he threatened Denise, as written in the divorce documents. Denise takes a deep breath and says that he was abusive at times. She can’t lie- he was abusive and threatening – there were times with much verbal abuse, which got very scary. He never hit her but he would push or shove her. It’s public knowlege that she had a restraining order against him because of this. She told Charlie she was coming on the show, she told him she would be honest, but there are some things she won’t reveal. Does Denise think he has a problem with managing his temper and with the way he treats her and his current wife? Yes, says Denise. He has a very sharp tongue- he played on Denise’s insecurities, which she acknowledges that we all do in relationships . Oprah interrupts to say that it is interesting that Denise said he never hit her, and so many women use the “he never hit me” calling card yet they cower in intimidation and manipulation. Denise says it’s easy to judge when you are on the outside. Denise loved him, she wanted it to work- she doesn’t love him now, he’s not the person she married. She cares for him and would help him out if necessary because he is her daughters father. There were some very dark times, with humiliation, particularly when she filed the restraining order. She was scared, embarrassed, terrified. She didn’t have any inkling when they married that the relationship would be volatile. He was 3 years sober when they met, which she admired, she thought that his past was in the past. Did she feel put upon because alot of the press was labelling her as a golddigger and man-stealer, when he was being threatening and abusive? Denise says it was very, very difficult, and she hit rock-bottom. This is a sad situation, he now has two baby boys and they have a Dad in jail for Christmas, but perhaps people can understand what she went through. She’s not sure that she feels vindicated. As the show goes to commercial break, there is a written and spoken disclaimer that Charlie Sheen has repeatedly denied Denise Richards’ allegations of abuse.
This is Denise Richard’s first time speaking out since the Christmas arrest, but they have got to a good place together. Oprah asks how good that place will be after this show and Denise laughs and says it depends how much they talk about- she says they’ve gotten through worse with a lot of work. Their daughters did not ask to be born into a hostile situation- she and Charlie started to see a mediator,- so to be able to have an early dinner together on New Year, is important for the kids who don’t deserve this stuff. Denise’s dad in the audience says it’s so frustrating- he respects his daughter for trying to makie it work but was angry at her for repeatedly going back. She kept going back because their oldest was 9 months and she was 6 months pregnant when she filed for divorce. She did it for the kids, she did not want this life for them. She was terrified for her own life. When she filed for divorce, they had had a very big argument, the next day he went to work and she packed a suitcase and took her 9 month old and went straight to an attorneys office. She was terrified and relieved that she had the strength to do it. When she heard he was remarrying, she had very much moved on- it was impossible to make her marriage work- she hopes he is different. Brooke is her daughters step-mom so she wants it to be a healthy relationship for everyone.
Oprah asks her how she felt when the tabloids called her a husband-stealer, what happened there? Richie was single when they were both going through their divorces. It started as a friendship, they leaned on each other and both had parents that were ill. Oprah asks if she knows the rule that the best friends husband is off limits rule, whatever the circumstances may be? Denise says that she was friends with Heather, but they weren’t best friends, and if they been friends then she would have never crosssed that line; Richie would have been off limits. The friendship was done, they weren’t friends anymore. She had mixed feelings, she was embarrassed and could feel the other mothers staring at her. Doing Mommy and Me and preschool runs was humiliating. She is now in a good place herself. Her 4 and 5 year old daughters are her pillars. Their favorite presents were their American Girl dolls- they were spoiled at Christmas. She did tell them about their Dad- a kid in kindergarten asked her 5 year old if her Daddy was still in jail. Oprah says theat kindergarten ain’t what it used to be. She asks if she is comfortable for Charlie to be with the girls, does she trust him? Denise says yes after a long pause. She says it’s up and down, a work in progress. Oprah asks if that means she didn’t trust him at some point; Denise says it was challenging. Many people said she was being manipulative and controlling, but she did what any parent in their right mind would have done. It is about the girls. Oprah asks if it’s his temper, what is it? Denise says it’s a combination of a lot of things, and Denise has always been about keeping the girls safe and healthy. Oprah says that Denise is not going to tell her what it is, as “a lot of things” is not an answer. Denise says she is starting to sweat. Oprah says Denise should only say what she feels comfortable with, but she wants Denise to know that it’s a lot isn’t an answer. Denise looks to her Dad and says everyone has read certain things, and that everyone must agree that some of those things are not appropriate for children. She can’t control Charlie or Brooke or what goes on in their home, but what she can control is the situation in her own home and keep her girls safe. Oprah leaves it at that because Denise is uncomfortable, but she says that all the things we read about prostitution, pornography and drugs are not appropriate for children. Oprah wishes Denise the best and thanks Denise for coming on the show. As the show goes to commercial break, a disclaimer says that Charlie Sheen denies that he threatened his wife Brooke with a knife, and that Brooke and Charlie want to work on their issues. He goes to trial in February.
It’s all too common; a well known, widely respected man is caught in a very public scandal, then steps forward and admits doing something wrong while his wife stands stoically by his side. Ted Haggard and his wife Gail were on the show last January after his shocking secret life was exposed – he was a powerhouse evangelist with 30 million followers, charismatic and influential, a rising star, until the sex scandal. On the show he said he wasn’t gay, but a heterosexual with homosexual attachments, as diagnosed by his first therapist. In 2006 a former male escort claimed a 3 year sexual relationship that included payment for sex and crystal meth. The details were sordid and humiliating. It was not an emotional relationship, it was strictly for sex. Ted initially denied everything, he said he never did drugs nor did he have a gay relationship, ever. Gail initially believed him but the story began to fall apart. He admitted that he called the other man for meth, for himself, but never used it. He eventually admitted to using drugs and sexual immorality. He said to Gail that he was toxic, so poisonous, that she should divorce him. Why did she stay? Gail is here and has written a new book called Why I Stayed.
Oprah read it last night and then this morning had an epiphany; she decided to approach this interview with no judgement; judge not lest ye be judged. Her conclusion is that Gail loves this man in a way that Oprah has never loved, Oprah is independent and has always made her own decisions and can’t therefore imagine ever being in the situation where someone could betray her and she would stay. It is unimaginable to her, yet Oprah can see that coming where Gail came from, Oprah can see how Gail could do it.
Gail is glad that Oprah doesn’t want to judge her- she would say that she is strong and independent and that these were her choices. She felt that the betrayal could lead to greater strength. On page 108 of her book, Gail asks if the fault lays with her- was she not enough, not attractive , not fun, not sexually satisfying enough? Gail says that most women would ask herself those questions when faced with infidelity , would ask if they failed somehow, would ask what’s wrong with me? Gail asked herself those questions then asked Ted those questions. He answered that this was his problem, not hers, and that she was enough. Oprah asks if this would be the same if the infidelities were with women? That for some women it’s easier if the man was gay. Gail says the dynamics were different, another woman would make her feel that she definitely wasn’t enough; it raises a whole different set of challenges. Oprah says another man means there’s nothing you can do about it, which can make it easier. Gail thinks that the whole woman thing would have been different challenges, but the same principles.
Oprah asks for clarification; knowing that her husband had had relationships with men in the past, why did Gail believe him when he denied a relationship? Gail says she really did believe it becasue she was too naive, there were hints. After Jonathan, their special needs son was born, Ted came to her and said that there had been an incident the previous year that he needed to share. It involved another man, it wasn’t a sexual relationship, but it was a somewhat sexual encounter that had happened when he was a graduate student in a bookstore in another city. He determined to get out of grad school and never go back, and went to see a counselor that day. He carried so much guilt that he didn’t reveal the incident for a year, a year and a half. Oprah asks if the admission of an encounter of any kind plants the seed that he is interested in men. Yes, it did. This happened over 25 years ago. Gail understands that we all have struggles and weaknesses in our life- but if she heard that now it would have been a huge sign for her. Then she was naive to the gravity of the situation. She wanted to deal with it and believed that he had dealt with it, and that was why she was so staggered when the situation came out.
Its been just over 3 years since Ted Haggard was brought down by a gay sex scandal. Ted joins us. Gail writes on page 67 of the day she decided to stay in the marriage. Ted reached out for her in bed, and her heart broke, and she began her journey of choosing to love. Ted, literally, cried when he read that. He realised that so many others would have withdrawn, justifiably so, and maybe just put him out. Oprah asks her what made her choose- it was the first night that he had confessed that parts of the allegations were true. Ted was already in bed, when she slowly went to bed. Oprah is outraged that he was in the bed, that he was allowed to be there, and that Gail went to join him. Ted says that’s why the book is so incredible, to see Gail making so many choices to keep there family together. Gail clarifies that she had a sense of betrayal and had a sense of revulsion, but she fell back on what mattered in her marriage, the things she believed about her husband. It was a secret, she hates secrets, it was very painful for her; she wanted to know the truth and know her husband. But she knows what kind of man he is, the good that he’s done and the wonderful parts of their marriage. and she’s not willing to let go of that. Sharing her epiphany, Oprah says to Ted that Gail really loves her. Ted says yes she really loves him, this woman is deeply infatuated with him, she loves him, which is an incredible thing. Gail says its more than infatuation, she really loves him. Ted says its incredible for a woman to love a man the way Gail loves him, he doesn’t deserve it, it’s a gift she has given him, and that he is so grateful.
Oprah asks Gail if she trusts him as much as she loves him? Gail says this is her answer: Rebuilding trust, she had the confidence that he was faithful to her, and that she could believe what he said. Ted felt that when the scandal happened it became his responsibility to do things so she could trust him. He took lie detector tests, he’s super accountable, he calls her constantly. He makes sure she has no doubt about where he is, so that Gail can deal with her fears reasonably. He makes it his resonsibility, he doesn’t expect blind trust. The rules he lives by are
1 He answers everything. He Tweets and Facebook’s his schedule for Gail and the public.
2. If he goes anywhere alone, he calls Gail when he gets there and when he leaves, and informs her of any adjustments of schedule
He says he stepped up and decided to do this, rather than have rules imposed by Gail, which would feel very different. He’ll mask it by asking if she wants anything from the grocery store as he’s leaving, so it doesn’t feel like checking in with his parole officer. He realises he also violated his children’s trust. If he travels and Gail can’t go, for whatever reason, something like the children or whatever, then he stays in the pastor’s home, not in a hotel. No one imposed that on him, he does it himself, it’s not a contract or anything like that. Oprah asks if he does it so that he can be trusted by them or if he doesn’t trust himself? Ted says that always when people have been in any behaviour like that, there is a chance of a problem. Ted trusts himself but step number 1 in the 12 step program encourages us to never think that we are immune. Oprah asks if the 12-step program got him through this process? He says it helped, and he’s still in counselling for other (non-sexual) issues, other things. The biggest thing that helped him was therapy, since that time he’s not had one compulsive thought or behaviour. Oprah asks if he feels he’s heterosexual and he says oh yeah, we have a lot of evidence. He laughs, Gail doesn’t. Oprah asks, and he clarifies that he no longer has any homosexual issues.
Oprah asks Gail what if he comes to her and says he’s slipped up? Gail says it’s a day she hopes never happens, but realistically she has to be prepared for that. She thinks her heart is not ready for that at this point, but she believes that the principles that got her through before could get her through again. Oprah asks if the marriage is stronger and better; Gail says absolutely. Gail loves him more now after they’ve walked through these difficulties together and she knows his weaknesses. Before she felt she couldn’t get close enough to him, there was a wall she couldn’t get past, and once they started this process, once the huge lights were shining on her husband they were able to get behind the wall and walk through that and that gave her more love for Ted. Gail’s book is out today, thank you Gail, thank you Ted.
WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
Despite denials, Charlie Sheen is most likely threatening and abusive
Most people would agree that drugs, pornography and prostitutes are not appropriate for children
If Gail Haggard’s husband had been unfaithful with women, there would have been different challenges, but the same principles of recovery.
To avoid all trust issues with oneself and others, stay in the pastor’s house rather than a hotel.
Therapy can work to reverse all homosexual impulses and feelings.
A VERY CONCISE SUMMARY:
Drugs and sexual immorality can lead to a stronger, better marriage with more love.