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updated 5/26/2010 12:42:38 PM ET 2010-05-26T16:42:38

Jesse James says childhood abuse led him to cheat on Oscar-winning wife Sandra Bullock with numerous women.

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"I grew up with a huge amount of shame and fear and abandonment on my shoulders from a very young age and I think, you know, the way my mind rationalized [cheating], 'Well, you know, I might as well do whatever I can to like run her off cause she is going to find out what I am anyway and leave me anyway,'" the biker, 41, said in a Nightline interview that aired Tuesday. "The struggle within myself for the things that I did ...to damage marriage and my life and everything else, it's all me. I'm doing it because, you know, I've basically never felt good enough for anyone."

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That's partly why he checked into rehab for a month in March.

He said he went in with "a little bit of an ego," but "after about two days I realized, 'Wow, I'm kind of more messed up than most of the people here.' It was like peeling an onion. Every day it was a new revelation about myself and the things I've been doing. I cried more in rehab in the last 30 days than I have in my whole life. No BS. That's the truth."

Seeking treatment made him realize "Bike builder, Monster Garage TV star, all that stuff is a huge smokescreen so that people won't see that I'm a scared, abused kid, a seven-year-old."

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Raised by his single father, James said his dad "beat my ass pretty good a bunch of times ... I just remember, like, clinched teeth, strained-neck look on his face. My whole childhood, I never had a chance to be a kid. ...I was always scared."

One time, "I tripped over this little low fence wire and snapped my wrist and I remember my dad laughed at me when I hit the ground and called me a dummy," James recalled. "I was petrified of my dad ... It wasn't so much getting the s*** beat out of me or getting my arm broken or getting kicked or whatever or punched, it was the in-between time. It was the fear of that happening again. I was a terrorized kid and, I mean, it's really tough for me to think about now because ...Sunny [his 7-year-old daughter] is the age that I was when my dad broke my arm." (James' estranged father Larry denies the abuse allegations.)

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James said he isn't a sex addict, but cheating on Bullock, 46, was a way for him "to sabotage my life ... I think I do a lot of things in my life that I shouldn't be doing that aren't conducive to being a perfect husband, you know, and the affairs are just one of them."

Abuse victims "self-sabotage their life ... because of their abuse; they've never felt good enough," he said. "Why would I totally destroy my wife's life and humiliate her when I knew it was bad, you know? I may seem like a monster in people's eyes, but I'm not that kind of person where I will willfully, you know, 'I'm gonna get her, I'll show her,' that's not what it's about. It's about trying to push someone away that I thought was going to leave anyway."

PHOTOS: Jesse James' mistress Michelle McGee

Although Bullock filed for divorce in April and said she plans to raise their adopted 3 1/2-month-old son Louis as a single parent, James said he hopes they'll reconcile.

Said James, "I really wish I didn't have to go through all this and put everybody else through this to get to this place, but hopefully with time and my actions, and the things that I do, I hope people realize that, you know, Hey, I'm human, I make mistakes and I'm sorry for what I did."

Copyright 2012 Us Weekly

Photos: Sandra Bullock

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  1. 'The Heat'

    Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy broke ground in 2013 when they starred in "The Heat." The film was the first buddy cop comedy to feature two women in lead roles. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. For a good cause

    Bullock arrives at amfAR's Inspiration Gala in Los Angeles on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. The Gala benefits AIDS research worldwide. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Loyal friend

    Bullock accompanies friend and former co-star Ryan Reynolds to the premiere of his film, "The Change-Up," at the Regency Village Theatre on August 1, 2011 in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Lady in red

    Bullock was a vision in red on the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Golden

    Bullock arrives at the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, January 16, 2011. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Mother and sun

    Bullock tries to shield her son Louis from the photographers on January 6, 2011 in New York. (Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Lending a hand

    Sandra Bullock was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony for a health clinic at the Warren Easton Charter School in New Orleans on Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010. She was joined by (from left) Billy Hatchett, Warren Easton Foundation President, Alexina Medley, Principal, Sandra Bullock and school nurse Cassondra Ferrand. The Kellogg Foundation and the San Francisco 49ers Foundation were the main financial contributors of the $700,000 facility. (Kerry Maloney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Getting her back into it

    Sandra Bullock, left, gets down with "The Proposal" co-star Betty White during the 2010 Teen Choice Awards at Gibson Amphitheatre, in Universal City, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Double whammy

    Copies of People magazine featuring Sandra Bullock and her newly adopted son Louis Bardo Bullock are show on sale in New York on Wednesday, April 28. The actress announced that she was divorcing her husband Jesse James and that she had secretly adopted the boy in January. (Jeff Christensen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Blindsided?

    Bullock and James celebrated after she won the best actress Oscar on March 7, 2010, for her role as Leigh Anne Tuohy in the football drama, "The Blind Side." The couple looked happy, but rumors that the marriage was in trouble circulated later in the month, when Bullock abruptly pulled out of participating in the movie's London premiere. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. One from her peers

    Bullock poses with the Screen Actors Guild Award for female actor in a leading role for her work in "The Blind Side" at the 16th annual event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Jan. 23, 2010. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 'Monster' man

    Bullock and her husband, "Monster Garage" host Jesse James, arrive at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 23, 2010. (Matt Sayles / AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. On a roll

    Bullock poses with her award for best performance by an actress in a motion picture -- drama for "The Blind Side" at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2010. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. In the game

    In 2009's "The Blind Side," based on a true story, Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mother of a family that takes in Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home. They help him fulfill his potential and with the help of his coaches and adopted family, he becomes an All-American football player. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 'All About' Sandra

    Bradley Cooper and Bullock arrive at the premiere of Twentieth Century Fox's "All About Steve" held at Mann's Chinese Theater on Wednesday, Aug. 26 in Los Angeles. The film tells the story of a woman who becomes obsessed with a man she's only been on one date with and ends up following him across the country. Bullock later won the Razzie award for worst actress for her role in the film--but it came just one day before she won her best actress Oscar for "The Blind Side." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Giving back

    Bullock talks to high school junior LaShanta Williams on Friday, May 15, 2009, before being inducted into the Warren Easton High School Hall of Fame in New Orleans for her help rebuilding the school after Hurricane Katrina. (Cheryl Gerber / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Decent 'Proposal'

    In 2009's "The Proposal," Bullock plays a pushy boss who forces her young assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her in order to keep her visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada. Bullock told the TODAY show that the film is not a romantic comedy, but simply a comedy. She's no longer a fan of the rom-com, saying, "They're not comedy and they're not romantic." (Touchstone Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Future shock

    In 2007's "Premonition, Bullock finds out that her husband was in a car crash, but when she sees him the next day, she realizes that she had a premonition and will do anything she can to keep it from coming true. Bullock told the TODAY show that the film's bleak outlook played into her natural impulses. "I worry and I expect the worst out of everything," she said. (TriStar Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Reunited

    ‘Speed’ co-stars Reeves and Bullock reteamed for 2006’s “The Lake House.” In the film, they play a couple who fall in love despite the fact they live in different years. They bond over the house they both live in and trade letters by using the mailbox. "I was a little nervous," Bullock told the TODAY show about reuniting with Reeves. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. True love

    Bullock married motorcycle builder and "Monster Garage" host Jesse James on July 16, 2005. They met when Bullock arranged for her 10-year-old godson to meet James as a Christmas present. She's the stepmother to James' son Jesse Jr. and his daughters Chandler and Sunny. “Thankfully I married someone who loves me just the way I am – and all the nuttiness that goes into me,” Bullock told InStyle magazine. (Eric Charbonneau / WireImage for Vanity Fair Magazine) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Surprise winners

    The cast of "Crash," including Bullock, Matt Dillon and Terence Howard celebrates after the movie beat out favorite "Brokeback Mountain" for the best picture Oscar at 78th Academy Awards on March 5, 2006. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Secretly charitable

    Glamour magazine awarded Bullock the “Undercover Activist” award at the its “Women of the Year” Awards in 2006. The actress was celebrated for quietly donating millions to the Red Cross after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the 2004 tsunami without trying to get publicity for her charitable actions. (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Stardom!

    Bullock was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame on March 24, 2005 in Hollywood, Calif. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Rom-com fever

    Hugh Grant plays a billionaire who can't get along without the help of his attorney (Bullock) in 2002's "Two Weeks Notice." But when she gets fed up and decides to quit, Grant realizes that he may be in love with her. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Armed and dangerous

    Bullock got serious for 2002's "Murder By Numbers," in which she plays a crime scene specialist on the trail of two students (Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt) accused of murder. Bullock briefly dated co-star Gosling. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Ya Ya!

    In 2002's "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," Bullock plays Siddalee, a New York playwright who gets into a fight with her mother (Ellen Burstyn) after she's quoted in Time magazine. It's up to her mother's friends (Fionnula Flanagan, right, Maggie Smith, second from right, and Shirley Knight, left) to explain her mother's history to Siddalee in order to patch up their rift. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Playing to her strengths

    In 2000's "Miss Congeniality," Bullock plays an FBI agent who goes undercover as a beauty pageant contestant in order to catch a terrorist. But the tomboy agent has to undergo a complete makeover in order to play a believable contestant. "The one thing me and this latest character have in common is we're both slobs," Bullock said. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Here's to Bullock

    Bullock played an alcoholic who reluctantly gets the help she needs in the 2000 film, "28 Days." The film received mixed reviews. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Showing a sultrier side

    Bullock walks onto the stage in a bright orange dress at the VH-1/Vogue Fashion Awards on Dec. 5, 1999 in New York. She introduced singer Beck. (Timothy Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. 'Nature' calls

    In 1999's "Force of Nature," Ben Affleck plays a man who must get from New York to Savannah, Ga., for his wedding but finds himself sidetracked by an eccentric woman (Bullock). (DreamWorks via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. 'Magic' time

    In 1998, Bullock and Nicole Kidman starred as women with witch-like powers in "Practical Magic." But their gifts come with a curse -- any man who falls in love with them is doomed to an untimely death. (Warner Bros. via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. People's Choice

    Bullock was named the favorite motion picture actress for her work in "Hope Floats" at the People's Choice Awards on Jan. 10, 1999. (Gerard Burkhart / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Staying 'Hope'-ful

    In the 1998 film "Hope Floats," Bullock stars as a recently divorced woman who returns with her daughter to her Texas hometown to stay with her mom, played by Gena Rowlands. As she tries to get her life back together, she strikes up an attraction with an old friend, played by Harry Connick Jr. (20th Century Fox via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Sinking sensation

    Bullock reprised her "Speed" role for the ill-fated 1997 film, "Speed 2: Cruise Control." Jason Patric took over for Keanu Reeves in this story about a cruise ship that becomes the target of a computer hacker. Scoring just 2 percent "fresh" on RottenTomatoes.com, the USA Today critic called the film, "A waterlogged sequel that'll soon be bottom-feeding with 'Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.'" (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Hemingway's lady

    In 1996's "In Love and War," Bullock plays a nurse who cares for Ernest Hemingway, played by Chris O'Donnell, during World War I. The film marked a dramatic departure for Bullock, but didn't light up the box office, earning only around $14 million. (New Line Cinema via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. 'Sleeping' beauty

    Bullock won hearts playing a lovelorn subway token taker in 1995's "While You Were Sleeping." She played Lucy, a woman who has a crush on a man she doesn't know and then saves life. He goes into a coma and through a series of misunderstandings his family comes to believe that she is his fiancée. Demi Moore was originally supposed to play Bullock's role. (Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. 'Speed'-y road to success

    Bullock's breakthrough role came in 1994's "Speed." In it, she played a feisty passenger on a city bus who finds herself at the center of a mad bomber's plot to blow up the vehicle if its speed drops below 50 miles per hour. (20th Century Fox via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. The 'Potion' worked

    Bullock starred opposite Tate Donovan in the 1992 film, "Love Potion No. 9." The film tells the story of an elixir that makes people of the opposite sex fall love with each other. The potion must have worked for Donovan and Bullock because the couple dated for four years after meeting on the set. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. 'Working' for a living

    One of Sandra Bullock's early roles was on the short-lived series, "Working Girl," the small screen version of the film that starred Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. The series only lasted for 12 episodes. (20th Century Fox via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
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