It's been several months since onetime "Real Housewives of D.C." star Michaele Salahi left husband Tareq for Journey guitarist Neal Schon, but she hasn't done much talking about it for the record -- until now.
Salahi and Schon joined TODAY's Natalie Morales Wednesday morning to discuss the split, the hurt feelings and Journey's new music video, which just so happens to feature the pair of them frolicking on the beach.
Salahi said she left her husband abruptly in late September of 2011 to escape a too-close, abusive relationship: "What happened between Tareq and I was him and I. It's between us. And what he did is push me away. When there's control or abuse or hurting someone mentally ... it's not love. It's smothering."
But she's clearly still stung by comments she claims her soon-to-be-ex Tareq made on TODAY back in September.
"When he joined Matt on this couch and said that I was a groupie slut -- it's not about Journey, it's not about Neal, it's about him and I, and it's something that should have been between us," Salahi explained. "And there's enough pain in the world, he just needs to stop."
"This is the first time in five months that I've spoken," she added. "I would never defame his name."
But two things happened yesterday that seem to have propelled her to come forward. On Valentine's Day, Journey released that new music video for "Resonate," and on same day, TMZ reported that Tareq was suing Schon for $50 million for emotional distress, defamation conspiracy and interfering with a contract -- plus $450,000 in punitive damages.
Lawsuit aside, Michaele is happy.
"There's very much real love there," she said. "This is a great friendship. I'm thankful Neal is in my life."
(For the record: Tareq Salahi did not call Michaele a "slut" or a "groupie" in his September interview with Lauer, and their chat did not actually take place on the TODAY couch.)
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