In an interview with American broadcaster Barbara Walters, the actress admits her ex had moments of being a good father to their kids - but she left him when she realised his cruelty was wrecking the family.
The couple have been at odds for years - and McEnroe shocked the world last year (03) with a tell-all book that revealed he and his ex-wife did drugs together. They're still involved in a custody battle for the kids following O'Neal's 1997 rehab stint for a heroin problem.
Tatum says, "Yes, he gets up the morning and he takes them (the kids) to school. Yes he flies back for their birthdays. Yes, he's moralistic and he cares about (them), but he can be extremely cruel.
"He told me that I was a coward, that I was full of s**t, that I needed to respect him more. He told me that if it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't have the children that we have. He told me never ever... try to leave me, I will hurt you I will take away the kids.
"McEnroe wants to kill me. I left him. He kicked me down the stairs. I never had a plan. I never thought 'Oh, I've got to leave this guy,' but he kicked my a** down the stairs... and I thought my little five-year-old's gonna open the door and see his mother on the floor with this crazy man yelling over her and I can't take it anymore.
"I haven't regretted it a day since I left him."06/09/2004 21:07