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When the four-part special continued on Wednesday, host Andy Cohen asked Erika, 50, why she chose to stay in her marriage to Tom Girardi for as long she did. Even though Erika said she had nowhere to turn, Cohen, 53, pointed out she's "on a hit TV show" and has a career to fall back on.
"I was not in control of my finances," she said. "I walk out with two credit cards, they get cut. ... Who am I going to go call?"
Cohen said Erika's salary from Bravo "ain't bad," but Erika claimed her earnings went straight to Tom, 82. "I gave every paycheck to my husband. I've handed every paycheck I've ever made over," said the reality star.
Asked whether she remained in the marriage for security, Erika replied, "I stayed because I had no access."
Erika also addressed whether or not she was "held captive" by the former attorney. "I'll say this. I was 27 when I went in [to the marriage]. He was 60. The power balance is way out of whack," she explained. "I trusted this man. All of my finances were kept down at the firm, and everything was kept there."
Erika, who filed for divorce from Tom in November 2020, revealed the finalization of the pair's separation has been delayed due to her estranged spouse's conservatorship.
Tom is also facing multiple lawsuits, including one accusing him and Erika of embezzling settlement money intended for the loved ones of Boeing plane crash victims. His chapter 7 bankruptcy case was brought on by a lawsuit from his business partners.
With Tom's legal issues in mind, Cohen asked Erika whether she knew her longtime spouse was a "liability" before leaving him.
"I felt like he was sinking, not necessarily the ship [was sinking]. There was no talking to this person, trying to get him to answer my questions, being shut out completely. Anger, personality changes," she said. "And you can see now, look — the man is in a home. He's in a memory care facility. We've all seen the pictures of him with a black eye. We've seen how disheveled and how absolutely horrible he has deteriorated since I left in November."
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She continued, "So, what I have been saying is true. It's not unusual in Tom's business for him to be sued. But when Erica Girardi started ending up on lawsuits, that's when my ears were pricked."
Erika additionally addressed whether she would still have married Tom knowing what she knows now: "I'm at a place where I don't quite know who I was married to."
"There are good parts and there are bad parts," she continued. "And I'm trying to, much like everyone else around me, trying to figure out what the f--- happened in the law firm and in my personal life. And the things that I'm finding out, there are moments [where] I am overwhelmed, I am sad, I am heartbroken and then, I am bewildered. Truly, where I'm like, 'What was real?'"
Steve Eichner/AP Erika and Tom Girardi
As she awaits the outcome of Tom's legal battles, Erika said she intends to focus on herself going forward.
"Whatever Tom Girardi did or did not do, that's on him. But I know that a lot of his decision-making is being pointed this way now," she said. "His life is over. He's in his 80s. He's in a memory care facility. His career is over and done. I just turned 50. I can not allow all of this to destroy me and take me to a place that I cannot recover. I have to survive. So that's why I'm feisty."
The four-part Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion continues next Wednesday on Bravo.