Tinsley Mortimer Talks Arrest, Abusive Relationship, Real Housewives of NYC

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Tinsley Mortimer is stronger than yesterday. The former socialite and new cast member of The Real Housewives of New York City spoke exclusively with Us Weekly and revealed how she came out on top after escaping an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend Alexander “Nico” Fanjul, as well as her 2016 arrest.

“It was really hard walking away from the New York lifestyle of being in the press and then really wanting to be in Palm Beach and not have that be a part of my life anymore. And then all of a sudden, in one day, I’m plastered everywhere,” Mortimer, 41, tells Us of her brush with the law. “It was embarrassing. And mug shots are not pretty! They’re just never pretty.”

As previously reported, the Southern Charm author was arrested April 9, 2016, in tony Palm Beach, Florida, for trespassing at the home of her on-again, off-again beau Fanjul, 31. Mortimer — a native of Richmond, Virginia — fled the Big Apple for the Sunshine State in 2012 to be closer to her parents, father George Riley Mercer Jr., a real estate investor, and mother Dale Mercer, an interior designer. Not long after, she met fellow rich kid Fanjul (whose family owns the parent company of Domino Sugar), and the couple were together for more than three years. During that time, Mortimer and the businessman had multiple run-ins with authorities. According to police reports, their arguments would sometimes turn physical, but no charges against either party, aside from the trespassing charge, which was later dropped, were ever filed.

Looking back on that tumultuous time, Mortimer tells Us that she is actually thankful for her arrest and realizes that it was the wake-up call she needed to set her back on the right path.

“I think public humiliation can do a lot for somebody. Look at how much can change in a year. It was a year ago that this happened to me and so much has changed in my life,” she says. “So much good, and I’m just so grateful for it.”

Mortimer — who moved back to Manhattan into RHONY vet Sonja Morgan’s Upper East Side townhouse last year when filming for season 9 of the beloved reality series began — believes her brief stint in custody was absolutely necessary for her to break free from the toxicity in her life.

“I’m grateful for getting arrested, honestly, because as humiliating as it was, it was the only thing that broke this cycle of violence,” the blonde beauty tells Us. “It was the only thing that really made me step out of this. The physical abuse alone wasn’t enough for me to leave the relationship, which you think would be. But it turned out that it wasn’t because you can find yourself falling into this a lot easier than you think.”

Mortimer, who has been attending therapy since calling it quits with Fanjul, tells Us that she hopes telling her story will inspire other women who feel stuck in abusive relationships to get out. “Going forward, I would like to partner up with an organization, speaking about domestic violence, because I do think that if it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody,” she says. “I definitely had the means to get out of the situation. I had my own place too. I didn’t live with him. I wasn’t married to him. I didn’t have children with him. There were no ties there, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t leave the situation.”

But now the Columbia University graduate has reclaimed her life and has made a vow to never let herself suffer at the hands of a significant other ever again. “I feel stronger now from it. I feel like I’ve taken my power back. You know, I felt powerless in the relationship. I also felt powerless in my life and I didn’t feel like myself. It was just this very dark period on my life where I just wasn’t me,” she tells Us. “And now I’m getting back to me. I’m physically getting back into the city and this is me. This is where I belong. It’s so nice to be back and feeling powerful.”

Mortimer, who notes that NYC “feels different” since coming back, tells Us that she isn’t sad that her days as a socialite are over. While she’ll always be remembered for being one of Manhattan’s most celebrated It Girls of the mid-2000s, the Southern belle — who split from husband and high school sweetheart Robert Livingston Mortimer in 2009 — is thrilled to take on a new role in New York society: Real Housewife.

“I’m happy to trade in the title of socialite for Real Housewife,” she tells Us. “This is a new chapter for me, and I am so looking forward to the future.”

Watch Mortimer make her debut on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City Wednesday, April 12, at 9 p.m. ET. 

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