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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Mindy McCready

Aired November 11, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, country star Mindy McCready, once she was number one on the charts, now two suicide attempts while pregnant by a guy charged with trying to kill her. A diagnosis of depression and that's not all, Mindy McCready what's happened? We'll ask her. We'll take your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Later, the famed psychotherapist will join us, Dr. Robi Ludwig.

Mindy McCready, the country music star, had a number one hit in '96 with "Guys do it all the Time." She made headlines when her boyfriend was accused of trying to kill her.

She's now pregnant with his child, has tried twice to commit suicide, was last on this program in May when she then talked about her boyfriend's attempted homicide charge and her own run-ins with the law.

First on the boyfriend, you're back with him or not? Where is -- what's the situation?

MINDY MCCREADY, TRIED SUICIDE TWICE: Well, we are still not allowed to see each other legally. Obviously, we have as I am pregnant, but we're not allowed.

KING: Because?

MCCREADY: Because there's a restraining order that was ordered by the State of Tennessee for him to stay away from me, so he's not allowed in Tennessee and I'm not actually allowed out of Tennessee right now.

KING: You can't -- couldn't you release the restraining order since you had it issued?

MCCREADY: I didn't have it issued, actually. The State of Tennessee did. So, I cannot have it -- I can't do anything about it.

KING: If you're not allowed out of Tennessee, how are you here?

MCCREADY: They let me go because they like you so much.

KING: They being the authorities?


KING: OK, and where does Billy live? MCCREADY: Billy lives in Tampa, Florida.

KING: All right, since he hit you and all these kind of things, why did you -- and there was an order against him, why -- and there are charges pending against him, the obvious question why do you see him?

MCCREADY: Well, I wish that there was a simple answer to that but...

KING: Try, try me.

MCCREADY: I loved him. I just loved him. I missed him terribly even though he did terrible things to me. The relationship was very tumultuous. It's amazing how you can forget such terrible things so easily, you know, even when they're still fresh in your mind and try to only remember the good things.

And, even though he did the things he did, I still missed him and wanted to see him. So, I went down to visit him and, of course, we ended up, you know, having sex and I got pregnant and I tried to commit suicide, that was my first attempt, during that time.

KING: Why?

MCCREADY: Honestly, I just was at the end of my rope with everything. When I came down there I think I was looking for sympathy from him. I was looking for him to say that he was sorry and we were still in the same argument. We picked up right where we left off in our relationship before.

And, though, you know, I saw some very visible changes in him, you know, he was so very much at that time in denial about what he had done to me and the magnitude of how bad it was.

KING: What does he do for a living?

MCCREADY: He's a country -- aspiring country music singer also, yes.

KING: So you tried to commit suicide by doing what?

MCCREADY: I took a bunch of pills and drank a bottle of wine and went to sleep.

KING: And what happened?

MCCREADY: He saved my life actually. He called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital and I think I thank God I lived.

KING: Now, since you broke -- did they bring charges against you for visiting him?

MCCREADY: No, they didn't. They didn't. They were very merciful about that. They did not bring charges against me, thank God. But later on I found out about I guess a month and a half or so later that I was pregnant.

KING: Did they bring further charges against him?


KING: Because you visited him right?


KING: So, he didn't break the law.

MCCREADY: No, he didn't break the law. I did. I went down to visit him, so it was definitely my responsibility.

KING: And when did you attempt the second suicide?

MCCREADY: At the beginning of September there had been a lot of...

KING: You were how long pregnant then?

MCCREADY: I was a month and a half or so pregnant. We were fighting constantly. I was...

KING: On the phone?

MCCREADY: Yes, on the phone. I was scared to death that -- that I was going to be in jail for my legal troubles in Nashville. They were being quite ruthless to me and I mean I just was so depressed. I ended up trying to kill myself again.

KING: Same thing, pills?

MCCREADY: Yes, same thing.

KING: Who saved you from that?


KING: How could he save you?

MCCREADY: I was on the phone with him when it happened and I was actually crying to him about reading a bunch of tabloid stories that had been put in the tabloids and I just was...

KING: About you?

MCCREADY: Yes, I was distraught.

KING: What were they saying?

MCCREADY: Just things that weren't true that I was a drug addict, that I was an alcoholic.

KING: None of that true?

MCCREADY: No, no, and, you know, a lot of the stories I think were coming from my own family, my mom specifically.

KING: Why?

MCCREADY: I don't know. I really don't. We're trying to learn the concept in the McCready family of the words "no comment" and it's been a struggle, believe it or not. My dad's pretty good at it but my mom wants to talk.

KING: Do you think you are obsessed with this guy?

MCCREADY: No, I'm not obsessed with him. Larry, I just worked so hard at this relationship. It was a year and a half of going through his struggles to be sober and...

KING: He hits you when he's drunk?

MCCREADY: It was when he was under the influence, yes.

KING: Oh, drugs?

MCCREADY: Drugs and alcohol.

KING: What kind of drugs?

MCCREADY: Cocaine.

KING: And that was frequent?

MCCREADY: Very frequent.

KING: Has he tried to get help?

MCCREADY: He did get help and he has successfully been clean for six months, which is the longest he's been clean since he was 16 years old.

KING: So, is your goal now to have this baby and get together with him and get married and what's your goal?

MCCREADY: My goal is to have this baby and to find myself again. That is my goal.

KING: What's his goal?

MCCREADY: His goal I think right now has changed since all this has happened. He's become extremely apologetic and very remorseful about what he did.

KING: Which he wasn't before?

MCCREADY: No. No. I think Billy is easily influenced by a lot of people around him and, you know, when everybody is telling you how wonderful you are all the time and not pointing out the things that they need to, it's hard for you to look at yourself.

KING: Does he want to get married? MCCREADY: Yes, yes.

KING: You don't?

MCCREADY: Not right now.

KING: Did you think of an abortion?

MCCREADY: No. No. In my life I did that once before in my life. This is the first time I've ever said that to anybody and it has haunted me and I will never do that again.

KING: It wasn't with Billy?


KING: Why did you stay when you were being battered? I mean this question has been asked ad infinitum. We've never had a really good answer. A guy hits you, why aren't you gone?

MCCREADY: It's not something that you want to recognize. When you're in a situation and you are living it day after day, you can find excuses for anything and I was miserable with myself. I truly was just in agony.

KING: Low self esteem?

MCCREADY: Terribly low self esteem and when the first time happens when you get shoved or smacked or something like that you say, oh it didn't leave a mark. It wasn't that bad. And then the next time, you know, maybe it's a little worse, maybe you get a black eye, bloody lip. I was crying out to my family for help. I was calling my mom and calling my brothers.

KING: And?

MCCREADY: And they were encouraging me to leave him and he would -- he would leave the house when these incidents would happen and he would be gone for three or four days doing drugs and then he would call me and he would be sick and I would take him back in the house and nurse him back to health and all over again.

KING: More with Mindy McCready and this incredible story.

Later, Dr. Robi Ludwig will join us. We'll also include your phone calls.

By the way, there is a National Domestic Violence hotline. That number is 1-800-799-7233.

We'll be right back.


MCCREADY: He said he was going to kill me. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With her eyes still showing injury, McCready testified in horrifying detail the beatings she says she received Sunday morning at the hands of this man, 38-year-old William Patrick McKnight. McKnight is charged with attempted murder. McCready says during the worst moments of his attack she didn't know if she'd survive.

MCCREADY: And I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head.



KING: This afternoon we talked with Mr. McKnight's attorney Patrick McNally. He said because this is a pending case he's bound by Tennessee rules of ethics and therefore cannot comment beyond the public record.

He did, however, confirm that Mr. McKnight was charged with an attempt to commit criminal homicide and aggravated burglary. He also told us that his client pled not guilty. Mr. McKnight's attorney also told us McKnight entered an alcohol rehabilitation program and successfully completed it and he said Mr. McKnight has found gainful employment. Do you know what he's doing?

MCCREADY: Yes, he's working for a friend of both of ours actually. Eddie Dinoprio (ph) is his name. He owns a mortgage company. Billy is doing something for him.

KING: Is he still trying to sing?

MCCREADY: Yes, absolutely, that's his love. He spent a lot of his life trying to sing. You know this is -- he was -- I was actually spending all of my time working on his career and on his record instead of anything having to do with myself and it's great.

KING: Is his family supportive of him?


KING: Are they wealthy?


KING: All right. That scene we saw of you in court testifying what happened as a result of that he wasn't jailed for anything?

MCCREADY: Yes, he was jailed. He was jailed for 24 days while trying to get bond to get out of jail. His parents did bond him out and he was remanded to the state of Florida awaiting trial.

KING: And he's awaiting it now?

MCCREADY: Yes. I don't think it's going to go to trial. I think that they're going to make a deal and it will be over with soon. KING: Will he serve any time?

MCCREADY: A little bit, a little bit. That's to be determined at this point but he's willingly agreeing to do so. He wants to say he's sorry.

KING: And what do you want?

MCCREADY: What do I want?

KING: Yes.

MCCREADY: I just want to be Mindy the singer again more than anything. I just want to be myself again.

KING: Do you think that can happen as long as he's in the picture?

MCCREADY: I'm not worried about that right now. I just -- I want to do what's right for me and what's right for this baby and I want to be happy because I haven't been happy for so long.

KING: And the first time you tried to kill yourself and took pills you don't remember writing the suicide note right?

MCCREADY: Not even a second of it.

KING: Were you stoned?

MCCREADY: Well, they were sedatives. The pills were sedatives, so I was very sleepy and I don't remember.

KING: Well, here's what you wrote. This is your suicide note. "To everyone I love, I'm sorry. I know how selfish this seems but I can't take anymore pain. Billy is precious to me. Billy is the person in this world I love the most and he's convinced me how truly horrible I am. I gave all of myself in every way to him but he says I've done nothing but destroy his life and family." What was his argument about you? What did he say to you?

MCCREADY: Well, he...

KING: That you did wrong?

MCCREADY: He kept saying that, you know, it takes two people to fight in a relationship and that our problems had to be half of mine and, yes, I agree that, you know, I fought with him but if the drug problem had not been there, there would not have been a lot to fight about. He was lying to me. I mean I didn't...

KING: All addicts lie, right?

MCCREADY: Yes oh, my gosh, but, you know, I was the perfect girlfriend. I've never done that drug. I don't know what people are like on it.

KING: You've never done cocaine?

MCCREADY: Never and so he would do it and I wouldn't know that he was on it.

KING: But in August of last year you were charged with using a fake prescription to obtain OxyContin.


KING: A legal pain medicine.


KING: But maybe the worst of the legal, by worst I mean the most potent.


KING: So you were addicted to prescription drugs?

MCCREADY: No, I was not buying that medication for myself. That's why it's prescription fraud. I was buying it for my doctor.

KING: Explain that.

MCCREADY: The doctor that wrote me the prescription I was buying the medication for my doctor and had been for several years. I mean I didn't always buy him a pain...

KING: This was the doctor who gave various patients prescriptions for them so that he...

MCCREADY: Yes, he saw my band. He saw my parents. He saw my family, you know, Josh and T.J. my brothers on a regular basis and he would call me and say, you know, "Can you get me some cough medicine? Can I write you the prescription and you go get it for me" and I would.

KING: What happened to him?

MCCREADY: I don't know. I don't think anything. I think he lost his...

KING: He's never been charged?

MCCREADY: No, I think he lost his license.

KING: When you were arrested did you tell them that you were filing this for a doctor?

MCCREADY: Absolutely, yes. I told them the whole thing. It never came out unfortunately for me.

KING: And you were also this year charged in Arizona with identity theft, unlawful use of transportation and hindering prosecution, what was that? MCCREADY: Those were all false charges. I never did any of that. I was never involved in any of that. I met a con artist earlier this year and this con artist was gallivanting all around the country pretending to be someone else and I met up with him and traveled with him for over a week.

I was going to Los Angeles and he was -- he had a tour bus. He misrepresented himself that he was a record label owner and just unbelievable con artist. The guy spoke five languages. He was amazing.

KING: Where is he now?

MCCREADY: I hope in jail.

KING: Do you ever look in the mirror and say "I'm a train wreck"?

MCCREADY: Yes, yes I do, yes, all the time. I have got to be more careful about everything I do. I have just got to wise up and take responsibility for what's going on around me. I really do.

KING: Dr. Robi Ludwig is going to join us, hopefully be of help. We're also going to take your phone calls.

As we go to break, here's a bit of the talent of Mindy McCready.




OCTOBER 24, 2004

OPERATOR: 911, what is the exact address of your emergency?

MINDY: ----Place, Nashville, Tennessee.

OPERATOR: And exactly what happened?

MINDY: My boyfriend just beat the crap out of me.

OPERATOR: What's your boyfriend's name?

MINDY: His name is Billy McKnight.

OPERATOR: And what's your name?

MINDY: My name is Melinda McCready.

OPERATOR: And you're sure you don't need an ambulance?

MINDY: No. I don't need an ambulance. It's just my face that looks like crap.


KING: Are you OK, by the way, with regard to drinking and drugs? Are you clean?

MCCREADY: Oh, yes.

KING: Because friends and family have suspicions. Are you OK, you're sure?

MCCREADY: Yes, I am.

KING: OK. What about the effect on your career of all of this? You have a record label?

MCCREADY: Well, not right now. I've let everything go. I mean I've spent -- I've wasted the last two years of my life with this situation.

KING: Next week, November 14th, you're scheduled to appear in court for a probation violation hearing. Is that for going to Florida?

MCCREADY: No. That was for not reporting to court when I was supposed and it was because I was jailed in Florida.

KING: Why then did they let you come here if you're facing a probation violation next week?

MCCREADY: They were being kind to me and they're trying to let me, you know, get myself back together and if I...

KING: What does your lawyer say about that hearing? Is he confident you'll be all right?

MCCREADY: Well, we're trying to get the DUI situation resolved before we go and deal with that hearing.

KING: And where did that happen the DUI?

MCCREADY: In Nashville just in a different part of town.

KING: Liquor?

MCCREADY: Actually, I was not drunk at all. I had come from my home to pick up one of my brother's friends who had been drinking and it was Cinco de Mayo and I went to a bar to pick him up and had two of my girlfriends come and follow me and got pulled over. And, I did have drinks earlier on that night during dinner but I had two glasses of wine and it was probably...

KING: Did you fail the test though?

MCCREADY: ...eight hours before. I didn't blow. I didn't blow.

KING: Oh, you wouldn't do it?

MCCREADY: No, I wouldn't blow.

KING: Tacoma -- why didn't you do that?

MCCREADY: Because I was scared from the alcohol earlier and my size, you know, I would blow over the limit.

KING: Tacoma, Washington, hello.


KING: Hello.

CALLER: I was wondering what your suicide attempts were on your fetus?

KING: What?

CALLER: I was wondering what the effects of the suicide attempts was on your fetus on the baby?

KING: Yes.

MCCREADY: Well, during the first one the baby was still in I guess what they call gestation, so the doctor described it as it being an all or nothing effect that if the suicide attempt did have any effect on the child I would have lost the baby but I didn't. And then the second one it wasn't as severe as the first and the baby appears to be OK. However, you know, we won't know that fully for a while.

KING: Do you know what the gender is?

MCCREADY: Yes, I do.

KING: You don't want to say it though?

MCCREADY: Not yet, no.

KING: Sea Island, Georgia, hello.

CALLER FROM SEA ISLAND, GEORGIA: Hello there. I have a question for Ms. McCready. Do you not realize that you have the power within to stand on your own two feet? I mean let me tell you I've been there and it will happen again.

MCCREADY: That's what everyone tells me that's been in your position. That's what everyone says.

KING: Are you saying it will happen again with the boyfriend, ma'am?

CALLER: Yes, yes I am. You cannot -- you can't...

KING: You mean that's not curable?

CALLER: You can't fix the sadness in his learned behavior. You cannot fix that. MCCREADY: It's a very sad realization because that seems to be most of the opinion that people do not change especially people that have violent tendencies.

KING: What if? What if he beats this rap and comes back to Nashville and says, "Let's get married. I want a -- I'm OK. I want to be the father of this baby."

MCCREADY: I just don't know about that. I mean I just don't know. I'm very scared. I'm trying to do what's right. I'm trying to be smart about the situation. I'm trying to do what's right for this baby and I'm trying to think about myself, which I haven't thought about myself for so long. But, you know, I do still have feelings for him. I just don't trust him. I don't trust the situation anymore.

KING: You can't live like that.

MCCREADY: No, I can't. It's a horrible feeling, horrible.

KING: Your mother and you have had conflicting problems right? Your mother Gayle gave us this statement.

"If blaming me is a step towards reconciliation or if this will bring Mindy closer to receiving the help she needs, then she can go ahead. Maybe she and I need to talk and straighten things out." Why don't you?

MCCREADY: We've been talking for years, Larry. I love my mother. I do love her.

KING: What's the problem?

MCCREADY: Mothers and daughters do this. I mean my mom I think talks too much about things that she shouldn't and there are things that I want to hear her say. I'm not blaming my mom for my life because I am responsible for me and nobody can change me or ruin me easier than I can.

But, it does help in healing to hear your parents say "We realize we messed up. We created dysfunction in your life. This is why you're acting like this. This is why you're going through this. You know, let's help you fix it."

But my mom has never -- when we sat down and I said, "Mom, you shouldn't have done this to me as a kid or I'm upset about this, she has said all of the wrong things."

KING: You've chosen to appear on two programs, this and "Oprah." Why appear at all?

MCCREADY: This I really feel is something I have to talk about for me, for my healing to get over this. I've been quiet and lying and keeping things from my family and my friends and the people that love me and my fans for so long. I'm sick and tired of not telling the truth. I'm sick and tired of not telling how I feel. I'm sick and tired of not being Mindy. KING: So, you've been faking it?


KING: To please others?

MCCREADY: I've been faking it because I'm embarrassed. I've been faking it because I stood out and saying "Guys do it all the time" and told women "Don't put up with men treating you badly" and here I'm in a relationship where I'm being treated horribly.

KING: We'll take a break. As we go to break here is Mindy's mother.


GAYLE INGE, MINDY'S MOTHER: Mindy has called me and said, "You know, mom he did this. He did this. He did this." And I said, "Mindy, you don't love yourself. What's the matter with you?" And she would say, "You're right. You're right. I don't."



KING: Mindy McCready wrote and just recorded that song. It's called "Black and Blue." It obviously describes her own case. The song is currently available online and the proceeds go to Women Against Domestic Violence, right?


KING: How do they go online for it?

MCCREADY: They go to

KING: Mindy dot?


KING: Dickson, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Mindy, how could you think you had no self-esteem when you were so successful and beautiful?

MCCREADY: Gosh, people ask that all the time. How could you feel depressed? How could you be upset about your life? You had everything going for you.

It's hard to describe, when you're in an abusive relationship with somebody, especially when I feel. You know, as a child there were things said to me that weren't all, you know, Billy making me feel that way.

They were there. They belittle you so that you feel like you need them. So that you feel like you have to have them. And you just get lost. I mean, that's the only way I can explain it to you, is I was just so terribly lost. Once you get down that far, it's hard to pick yourself back up.

KING: Danville, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question for Mindy is after she found out she was pregnant and she still tried to commit suicide, wasn't that being a little selfish? And basically, don't you think it's time to quit blaming everybody else and take a real good look at yourself and do yourself a favor. Make friends with your mother, because that truly is the best friend you ever have and, unfortunately, most people don't find out until after they're gone.

MCCREADY: That's very true. I do believe that. If my mother and I can work out our differences, I would be the happiest girl in the world. There is no doubt about that. But loyalty is something that takes a lot of time to chip away at and it also takes a lot of time to replace. And that's what's missing between my mother and I.

And, yes, I was very, very selfish to have done that to my family, the people that loved me and my child. But I really want you to know it wasn't coming from a selfish place. I was truly in so much pain. I just wanted it to stop.

KING: What about your dad?

MCCREADY: My dad wasn't all innocent when we were younger. My dad left our house when I was 11-years-old, but my father has a different attitude about it. He has no problem saying that he was not the father he could have been or should have been.

KING: They're divorced?

MCCREADY: They divorced. They divorced when I was 11. My father has done unbelievable things to try to make up for it.

KING: Do you see him a lot?

MCCREADY: Yes, yes. My dad is a good dad.

KING: You live with your brother?

MCCREADY: Yes. I'm living with my brother, T.J. right now.

KING: You were engaged to a great guy, Dean Cain. He's a wonderful guy. He's been on this show. What happened? Why didn't you end up with him?

MCCREADY: Yes. Dean is a great guy. He's a wonderful guy, no doubt about it.

KING: Two years?

MCCREADY: Too huge of an age difference between us at the time. We started dating when I was just 19, and I loved him very much. I did. And he was very good to me. You know, it was a lot of problems between us, especially with my career because my record company was wanting me to act like the Mindy that I had always been, just saying yes to doing everything and Dean was watching me deteriorate in health and deteriorate in happiness, and he tried to say, no, she doesn't feel good and she doesn't need to do that hog-greasing contest in Iowa.

KING: Has he kept in touch with you since all of this?

MCCREADY: We've tried to keep in touch. You know, you fall out of touch. He doesn't want to hear about all this, I'm sure.

KING: You dated a hockey player too.

MCCREADY: Yes, I did. Drake Berehowsky was his name.

KING: He's with Nashville, right?

MCCREADY: Yes, he was a Nashville Predator, a defense man. He was a great hockey player.

KING: Wasn't that fun?

MCCREADY: Yes, I adored him. He's a good guy, very solid guy, very upstanding.

KING: How does your boyfriend put up with these two things?

MCCREADY: He doesn't like it. Doesn't like it at all. No, it's a sore spot to talk about. But you know, everybody has people in their past.

KING: White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry, hi, Mindy. Mindy, I think you've got an amazing voice and great talent, and I guess what I'm wondering now is, do you feel a responsibility to some of the fans that -- especially the female fans -- that you were something of a spokesperson for in the past, to maybe sort of challenge yourself to do the things even you know you're not quite hitting the way you want to.

I mean, what inside you is the inspiration you need to get yourself turned around, do you think?

MCCREADY: That's a very good question because that is exactly where I'm at right now. I am determined to be the Mindy that I promised all those little girls I would be, and I feel terrible.

KING: Were you kind of a spokesperson for the feminist movement?

MCCREADY: Oh yes. I think guys do it all the time was the female national anthem for awhile. I do feel so terrible about that.

KING: So if you heard about a woman that was beaten by her boyfriend years ago? MCCREADY: I'd send my brothers over to get him. I would have. I would send my brothers over to their house and drag the guy out of there. That would have been my attitude. I lost myself, I just lost myself.

KING: Dr. Robi Ludwig is a good friend of ours and she's been treating people for a long time. She's a regular on this program and she's going to join us right after these words. Don't go away.


KING: Great record. Big hit. Mindy McCready the country music star. That was a number one hit, by the way. Made headlines when her boyfriend was accused of trying to kill her. Now pregnant with his child.

And joining us from New York, but here in Los Angeles is Dr. Robi Ludwig, the famous psychotherapist. She's been a regular on this program.

Okay, Robi, what's your read?

DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, I was fascinated to hear people almost guilt you into getting you into a healthier relationship.

And very often, especially in Mindy's case, it's a sense of feeling guilty, feeling worthless. These type of women are most vulnerable to the misogynist man, the man who hates women. Because they feel they deserve to be punished.

And so it's almost a relief. See, I don't feel good about myself. I should not be so successful. I'm not as good as people think I really am. This is the real me and this other person confirms it, and I feel very comfortable with them.

KING: But, look at that, here's a woman who is very pretty, makes this big record that's a big hit that deals with independence, and still falls prey to it.

LUDWIG: Right.

Well, because our psychological life is very different than how we look on the outside.

We can appear beautiful and meet all the American ideals, and intellectually know how we should be behaving, but inside we are very drawn to what's familiar to us, and that's based on our background, on our childhood.

And the relationships that we find are based either on the relationship that we have with our mother, with our father or the relationship they had with one another, and that's what, you know, we want to be with what feels comfortable to us and sometimes that's dangerous.

KING: What are her choices now?

LUDWIG: Well, the toughest decision Mindy will have to make in her whole entire life will be to separate from this man.

It will be the hardest decision you will have to make because she wants to believe that he can be the right man, and give her the right love, and there's still a lot of hope there.

And also women in this culture believe if I just try hard enough. You know, we are defined very often or we feel successful if we can have a successful relationship, so there is this pull to make it right, and that might always be.

And Mindy's natural impulse might be very self-destructive. So before getting in any relationship, I would recommend treatment because I don't think if you are to make your own decision, I don't think it would be the right one for you now.

KING: So, she's doing the right thing. And even if this guy proposes and withdrawing from that.

LUDWIG: Right.

Say no. Say no at this point. And I just want to say that there are batterers who can get treatment, but they need to want to get well because with the batterer, they often feel like they're victimized as well.

And I bet you sense his victimization when you are with him.

MCCREADY: Oh, yes.

LUDWIG: Which makes it hard.

KING: They were usually battered as children. Weren't batterers battered?

LUDWIG: Yes, and so in the moment that they are battering, they feel that they are then not the victims. That's what gets them to feel it. If I'm battering, then I'm not a victim and I'm triumphant.

And they can't handle their emotions. They often feel that their spouse is attacking them.

KING: Have you had therapy, Mindy?

MCCREADY: After the second suicide attempt I spent ten days in the hospital, and it's the longest I've ever sat there and really concentrated on dealing with me, dealing with why I'm making the decisions I'm making, why I'm being so destructive to myself, why I chose to be in a relationship like that, and I felt so good after I got out. I was at peace.


MCCREADY: So, you know, real life starts again, however, after that and real problems. And, you know, just because I was on vacation for ten days from my life, and got to talk about things that were important.

KING: So, are you in therapy now?

MCCREADY: No, I am not currently in regular therapy.

LUDWIG: But, after this, she's going to be, right?


KING: Should she go somewhere?

LUDWIG: Absolutely.

KING: She should go to a center somewhere, right?

LUDWIG: Right, or go to a therapist who specializes in it.

KING: Like an hour a week or should she go away from all this?

LUDWIG: It depends.

I mean, if you feel that you're not a danger to yourself then once or twice a week would be a great place to start to get a sense of your inner life, and so you don't have to act on self-destruction.

You can make a choice. And two heads are better than one. A therapist can help you see all of your options. And it might be for Mindy for whatever reason that her natural instinct is to destroy herself.

And that might be rooted in your relationship with your mother. She might be a wonderful person, but sometimes if we get a message from a parent that we're not supposed to succeed or if we succeed, we can't be loved, then we want to make our parent right.

KING: Mindy McCready, Dr. Robi Ludwig, we'll take some calls for them.

Anderson Cooper 360 will be at the top of the hour. They're calling it AC 360. I like that. That's kind of like AC/DC. That's kind of like, you know, put it in--I don't know what it means.

Is that the new hip? Is it AC 360?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. I guess that's what the kids are calling it. I don't know. You don't know what these kids say.

KING: OK. AC what's up tonight?

COOPER: Tonight, we have a remarkable look inside, a really never before seen pictures, the most repressive regime on earth, the government of North Korea. Hidden camera photographs taken with people's cell phone cameras with hidden cameras. People risking their lives to bring you these images of executions in the streets. People dying laying dead in the street from starvation.

It is a remarkable look behind the bamboo curtain of North Korea. A look we have never seen before.

Also, we are going to look at a new poll that shows Americans think people are ruder than ever before. We're going to look at why, Larry.

KING: Really?

COOPER: Not you, not you.

KING: "Anderson Cooper 360" at the top of the hour. One of our favorite people.

And we'll be right back with Mindy McCready, Dr. Robi Ludwig and your phone calls.

Don't go away.


KING: Before we take some calls, Dr. Ludwig this man is going to be in her life. He's the father of the child.

LUDWIG: Right. So, they need to figure out how to co-parent, but that's very different than being in a relationship, and hopefully he'll be in treatment too. So, that when he has strong emotions he won't have to act out in anger.

KING: Is she in danger after birth of postpartum?

LUDWIG: Well, if you have a history of depression, that's always something to be aware of. Any woman can be vulnerable to it, but that's something that she should be aware of and you would work on with your doctor to just be very careful and observe.

KING: Alexandria, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Mindy, don't you understand you can be an advocate for victims of domestic violence around the country?

MCCREADY: Yes, I do and I am so ready to do that. I'm just getting started. The song that you heard in the middle of the show, called "Black and Blue" is a song that I wrote with a guy named Tim Johnson, and this song was written specifically about what happened to me.

And I want to help more than anything. I don't want to be a victim that is private and quiet and embarrassed in my home by myself. I've got to get out there and do something, and this is just the start. KING: There is a national domestic violence hot line, 800-799- 7233. You were telling me about a young girl who has an enterprise?

MCCREADY: Yes, this young girl, she called me. Actually, she e- mailed me, and I called her back. She has a company, called Shoe Signs (ph), and it's cute little tags that go on tennis shoes, on the laces, that say faith and hope and love and adorable little idea.

She started the company when she was 11. This little girl said, Mindy, I would like to help you, you know, do something to raise awareness to girls my age so that we don't grow up and get into domestic violence relationships.

What can I do to help you bring awareness to young girls, not after the fact, which I thought was such an intelligent thing for a little girl to say. Her name is Melissa. She also said to tell you that she thought you were very sexy.

LUDWIG: She has good taste, too.

KING: There's psychological violence, too, isn't there?

LUDWIG: Yes. And sometimes it starts emotionally.

KING: They don't have to hit you.

LUDWIG: No. They just make you feel badly about yourself and convince that you're not worthy and you can't find anybody somebody else. Sometimes they psychologically convince you you're not worthy and then the physical abuse can happen afterwards.

KING: These are creeps.

LUDWIG: Well, they're men that often are dependent on women and feel enraged with women at the same time. They feel enraged that they're dependent on them and that these women don't know how to make them feel good.

We don't really understand this in this society because men are not taught to really understand their emotional life and very often rely on women to do that for them.

KING: So, he's going to need help. She's going to need help. They're going to need co-parenting help, whether they're together at all.

LUDWIG: Right. They're going to have to figure out how to parent, co-parent this child, because you don't want to set up an intergenerational system where this child is going to learn abuse is acceptable too. And that sometimes can be a wonderful motivator.

KING: Do you feel like it's a big hurdle, Mindy?

MCCREADY: Yes, I'm very worried about that. I'm the most worried about that, as I am of anything. I just, you know, I don't want to make the same mistakes that I feel my parents made. I don't want to make the same mistakes I've made.

KING: Are you scared?

MCCREADY: Yes, I'm scared. I'm very scared, especially to be alone, but I feel like this is such a gift.

KING: The baby.

MCCREADY: Yes, and I've been so blessed. This is just amazing that the baby survived through what I have been through.

KING: Could the baby be a help?

LUDWIG: Absolutely. Our children can help us grow and stretch and do things we would never do otherwise. We begin to think of another person other than ourselves. We get out of ourselves and we begin to have goals of what we want for our child's future.

KING: We'll be right back with some more moments of Mindy McCready and Dr. Robi Ludwig. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, on the eve of the Country Music Awards this Monday night, we will feature some top four or five country female singers. We'll be doing that out of New York on Monday night. The Country Music Awards have moved from Nashville to New York this year. That will be Tuesday night.

Any danger -- not danger, Bobby Jackson, being a person who commits violence, that he might not get to be with his kid?

LUDWIG: That's true. It shouldn't be that anybody who's a parent biologically gets to be involved in their life?

KING: Automatically.

LUDWIG: No, you have to prove yourself, at least that's the way it should be.

KING: Independence, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I'm wondering if Mindy is tired of people saying, Mindy, don't you. I don't know if you've heard of a group called Al-Anon.

MCCREADY: Yes, I have.

CALLER: I would very strongly suggest it because it will help you peel away the layers of the character assassination that I feel you have deeply been involved in.

KING: That's for relatives of alcoholics.

LUDWIG: Right. And sometimes they're drawn to people, they call it codependency, who are dependent and they can get themselves in a very dysfunctional relationship.

KING: Are you optimistic?

MCCREADY: Yes, I am, for the first time in a long time.

LUDWIG: Well, I'm sure talking is very healing for you, because it's the first step, but it is the first step.

MCCREADY: I haven't been talking about it, for a long time. So, this is very therapeutic for me.

KING: Are there psychotherapists who would specialize in this?

LUDWIG: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Could you help her if she contacted you? To find someone.

LUDWIG: Yes, she can call me any time. She can call me anytime.

KING: You have a network, don't you? And you would know someone in Nashville.

LUDWIG: I have a network. I could find someone for her. I could be available to her and I could just be there to help her understand what she's experience.

MCCREADY: Thank you, guys.

LUDWIG: I'd be happy to be there in that way.

KING: These next few months are very important, right? When is the baby due?

MCCREADY: The first week in April.

KING: Very important weeks.

LUDWIG: Absolutely. It's a very exciting time and it will bring up a lot of different emotions and it will be very interesting for you, especially since you probably have a sense of the type of mother you want to be.

MCCREADY: Yes, I do.

LUDWIG: And being the right mother to your child.

KING: Be a good time to get back with your mother.

MCCREADY: Yes, it is.

KING: Thank you Mindy, and best of luck to you.

MCCREADY: Thank you so much.

KING: Robi, as always.

LUDWIG: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Mindy McCready and Dr. Robi Ludwig. The National Domestic Violence hot line is 1-800-799-7233.

Tomorrow night, Andrea Mitchell and Maureen Dowd will be our special guests. Sunday night we'll repeat the interview with former president Jimmy Carter. And Monday night, our female country stars in advance of the Country Music Awards of 2005.

Right now, we give our award to let's see, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is our award of the night, for the best show in this time period.