Danielle Staub 'Relieved and Happy' to Leave Real Housewives of NJ
"I am exhaling now, definitely," she tells PEOPLE. "I’m relieved, happy. It feels amazing to leave on a positive note."
While reports have implied that Staub, 48, wasn't invited back for season 3, she says it was all her decision. "There was really nothing left," Staub says. "I left on my terms."
Behind her decision, she cites the stress of dealing with costars Caroline Manzo, former Housewife Dina Manzo, Teresa Giudice and Jacqueline Laurita, who had once been Staub's friend.
"At the reunion, I knew I was leaving but I didn’t know if I’d get to say goodbye or if it’d be chased off the set," says Staub. "I can honestly say it was starting to be a really stressful situation for me. Constantly having to deal with people attacking me physically, emotionally, mentally, as a mother, as a human, as a woman. I really didn’t want to continue that."
And while Staub says she's going to keep her promise to Laurita by letting their issues go, she's not so charitable with Giudice, whom she recently compared to a character from Planet of the Apes.
"Teresa’s crazy. Look at her behavior. I don’t regret or apologize for anything I said," says Staub. "In the scheme of things what I said was not even that bad, compared to what she has called me -- a 'prostitution whore.' "
She also blasts Giudice's actions following her 2009 bankruptcy filing.
"I wouldn’t wish what happened to Teresa on anybody but I don’t respect that she’s not owning up to it. She has a platform now to help people learn not to overextend or overindulge," says Staub. "I've said all along, 'karma's a bigger bitch than I am.' " –Charlotte Triggs