Ashley Darby appeared to put on a happy face for her Real Housewives of Potomac costars after a cameraman alleged that her husband, Michael Darby, grabbed and groped his butt while filming an episode of the Bravo reality show. But it turns out the 31-year-old was struggling behind the scenes.
On Sunday’s RHOP, Ashley admitted in a therapy session that she chose not to show how she was really feeling — even to Michael — because she was afraid of hurting him.
“I knew if I got sad and I broke down, Michael would feel bad or guilty, so I wanted to be strong for him. So when I saw everybody, I put on my smiling face,’ Ashley said.
“I don’t want people to see me wallowing and see me sad or crying and think that I’m weak or don’t believe in my husband,” she continued. “It’s not a big deal. I know the truth about Michael, and that’s that.”
The claim against Michael, 59, became public in court documents filed in September. On Oct. 4, a Montgomery County court dismissed the charges of felony assault and misdemeanor improper sexual conduct due to insufficient evidence.
Last week, Ashley admitted on RHOP that she had “a little breakdown” behind the scenes when she heard the news.
She opened up more about it to her therapist on Sunday.
“When I got the news, I just froze,” she said. “It was not real that something like this was happening to my husband and I. My heart was racing, I was getting light headed. Like, this just can’t be my reality.”
Part of the reason Ashley was struggling so much was because she sees Michael as both her husband as “a paternal figure.” Her father divorced her mother when she was just 1 year old. She’s never spoken to him since.
“Subconsciously and deep down I knew one of the things that draws me to Michael is that he’s nurturing and authoritative in a way that I would imagine a father would be. But I didn’t realize the hurt I experienced with my dad has also spilled over into my marriage,” Ashley said. “That part of me is still so raw.”
“I don’t want to do anything to upset this balance of how I see my husband,” she added on RHOP. “So I do tend to err on the side of caution on how to be a good wife to him.”
Ashley’s therapist, Esther, encouraged her to express her real feelings to Michael.
“Michael’s not your dad, he’s your husband,” Esther said. “So the part of you that’s like, ‘I have to hold certain things back because I need to protect him,’ that’s that childlike part of you who’s trying to figure out, ‘I need to make my dad stay.’ “
Cameraman Orville Palmer had alleged the grope happened while filming a party in the basement of Samuels’ house.
“I don’t [have cameras] in the basement,” Samuels told Dillard and Huger at a couples dinner later in the episode. “As much as we’re mic’ed up and the other cameras are on us, I’m sure somebody would have heard it. You have to have somebody back up what you’re saying.”
Dillard’s husband Chris Bassett revealed he had been called as a potential witness. “I was talking to Michael,” Bassett told the crowd. “I didn’t see it.”
“The number of people that were in Monique’s house at that party, somebody had that phone out taking a picture or selfie or something,” said Dillard. “So there must be some footage of Michael doing what he does, allegedly. It’s a matter of time before it comes out.”
The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.