Meredith Baxter: Ex-Husband David Birney Hit Me
updated 03/01/2011 AT 11:20 AM EST
•originally published 03/01/2011 AT 07:30 AM EST
But Baxter, 63, who came out as a lesbian in 2009, says her relationship with Birney, 71, was far stormier than it appeared.
In a new memoir, Untied, the actress says that Birney struck her on more than one occasion. (On Tuesday's Today show, it was said Birney has denied the accusation.) Recalling one incident, Baxter writes: "It was so sudden and unexpected, I couldn't tell you which hand hit me, or even how hard. I do recall thinking, 'I'd better not get up because he's going to hit me again.' "
The Family Ties star also writes that she coped, in part, by drinking heavily. She has been sober since 1990.
For more on Baxter's painful past and the lessons she's learned, see this week's PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
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