I spoke to Linda Hogan while she was in the whirl of an intense media tour for her new book, "Wrestling the Hulk: My Life Against the Ropes." On show after show, from "Today" to "On the Record w/Greta Van Susteren," Hogan was describing what her life was like with pro wrestler Hulk Hogan.
The day we spoke, Hulk had just decided to strike, publicly disputing her allegations of abuse. As Hogan told me, it was just what she expected.
"He's just taking it like a sore loser," she said. "I'd expect him to do that. He's never apologized, never owned up to what he did [to] my family and me. If that's what he has to do, lash out at me, he can do that. But I think ultimately, people will understand what I had to go through."
After reading the book, I certainly felt like I had lived some of the more harrowing days spent by Linda and her kids, who went on to become stars of their own in the hit reality TV series "Hogan Knows Best."
Hogan, who will be at Barnes & Noble in Huntington Beach to sign her book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, also explained to me why she thinks the Hulk went from being a doting husband and father to someone who allegedly cheated on her and did whatever he could to belittle her.
"Certain men don't think they can ever get caught — especially big celebrities, like my husband," she said. "They get used to lots of attention in the outside world. Women throw themselves at them.
"They get so caught up that they don't seem to realize the devastation that their behavior causes. They get stuck in the moment. It's almost like a narcissistic disorder. Me, I honor my commitment. We were married for 24 years, and while I'm proud of that, I wish he'd have honored his promise to be faithful to me."
Hogan also thinks that steroids played a big part in Hulk's erratic behavior as he got older, as has been reported with many other wrestlers.
"The drugs take over, too," she said. "You want these men to just stop and thank God for all they have in life — the success, the riches — but they take so much of it for granted, and the drugs just fuel it all by making them crazy."
I wondered if maybe being on TV as a family for several years may have played some role in creating tension within the family, but Hogan said it was almost the opposite effect.
"The show actually kept Terry [Hulk's real name] and I together longer because it forced us to behave," she said. "When it came time to go on camera, and understand the crew is in your house a lot of the time, he'd be charming. Just like the wonderful guy I married. Doing the show was fun because many of his best qualities came out. I liked that. But, once the crew left, he'd go back to the darker side of himself. That was the pattern."
Today, with a new boyfriend and a new life, Hogan sounds happy and relieved to have her freedom back, along with some peace of mind.
"I have a really pleasant life," she said. "It's strange to wake up and not have doom and gloom, no scary personal pressures. I have freedom once more. My son Nick lives with me, along with my 12 dogs, in Los Angeles, and it's very peaceful."
Hogan added that if anyone at her book signing wants to share their own experiences within destructive relationships, she'd be happy to spend a few moments talking to them about it.
"It's like a mission of mine now," she said. "And if I can help anyone through this book, that's my goal."
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.