Who Is Heather Mills?
LOS ANGELES (October 20, 2006) -- "I think you're born how you are and you're either strong or you're not." - Heather Mills in 2001.
No one has ever questioned Heather Mills McCartney's strength. But now, it's her credibility that's come into question, as she has made some shocking allegations of abuse against estranged husband Paul McCartney.
But who exactly is Heather Mills?
Heather learned to be strong at an early age. Her mother left her at the age of nine and Heather said she became the home's matriarch.
"I brought up my brother, my sister and my father," Mills once said. "Because men without women become children."
Adding to her childhood trauma, Heather said in her autobiography ("A Single Step") she was molested at the age of 8 by a pool man who held her captive for days. At 9, she claims she received regular beatings from her father, which he denied.
At the age of 15, Heather left home and joined a traveling carnival. At the age of 21, she turned to modeling and married her first husband, Alfie Karmal.
And while more than a few individuals have questioned Heather's memories of her past, there's no doubt her life changed three years later in 1992 when as a ski instructor in the former Yugoslavia, she smuggled 26 of her friend out of the war-torn country.
"I got them out and set up a refugee crisis center in England," Heather explained.
Then as civil war broke out, she went back to help their families.
"I worked on the front lines in Bosnia," she explained. "I earned money modeling in Austria and then I would pay the guards, bribe them at the borders, to take medical supplies and food and equipment through."
But are all of Heather's claims true?
Her childhood friend Margaret Ambler sued Heather over her molestation and abduction charges, claiming she stole that story from her. They later settled out of court.
In 2003, Margaret said while Heather has been "improperly touched on different occasions" by the man, it was her friend who was abducted - not Heather.
And Margaret isn't the only one to dispute Heather's stories.
In an article published by The Independent (a UK publication), Heather's father Mark Mills also denied his daughter's story of abduction.
"Heather claims this happened when she was seven or eight, and she was living with me then. I have no recollection of her being abducted, I don't know why she would claim a thing like that," The Independent quoted her father as saying.
Of note, in her autobiography, Heather claimed her father was a con artist who abused her and her sisters.
And now as the shocking details of her allegations against Paul become public, more people are questioning whether Heather has a tendency to embellish.
Psychiatrist Gail Saltz said Heather's behavior could be a pattern.
"They may create things in their minds so they feel like a victim," Dr. Saltz explained to Access Hollywood. "If somebody has had a difficult past and potentially they've been abused or terrible things have happened to them where they view themselves as a victim in life, they may feel a need to hold onto that and keep repeating the pattern."
Not up for debate is the fact that in 1993, Heather lost her leg in a tragic accident.
"I should've lost my leg from a landmine or have been killed by a sniper in Bosnia, but I crossed a street in England," she says of the accident. "A police motorcycle came from behind and out of nowhere, chopped off my leg, crushed my pelvis, punctured my lungs and split my head open."
But Heather used her tragedy to make a difference.
"I was a celebrity after my accident because in the UK and Europe, I'd been a top model over there and it was 'Model Loses Leg' and 'She Overcomes Adversity,' so I knew that I could make a massive difference with that and it became my life," she explained.
Fate had brought Heather to her calling - helping the disabled and taking over where Princess Diana left off with her Adopt-A-Minefield program.
In 2000, Heather met Sir Paul. Interestingly enough, it was "America's Got Talent" judge Piers Morgan who takes the credit for introducing the pair.
"Heather Mills went on stage to make a speech about landmines and Paul said 'Who is that girl? I like what she is saying,'" Piers said. "So I introduced them, they got together and they got married."
After dating for a year, Paul and Heather tied the knot in Ireland in June 2002.
"It's great, it's lovely, I'm very happy, we're both happy," Heather said after the wedding.
But soon after, Heather immediately became a media target.
"I'm not Mother Teresa and I think even if Mother Teresa admired my husband, she'd be getting bad press," Mills said.
Four months after the wedding, there was no doubt how proud Paul was of his wife's charity work, which included storming Jennifer Lopez's New York offices during a PETA protest.
"When there's an earthquake in India, you don't go. I don't go. But she's on a plane - she's there counseling people, she's helping," Paul said. "Anyone who does that can't be bad."
In May 2006, Heather and Paul called it quits. In July, Paul filed for divorce.