Little Women: LA’s Briana Renee Says Her Kids Are Her 'First Priority' as Ex Is Accused of Assault

Amid disturbing allegations that he sexually assaulted a minor, a source tells PEOPLE that Matt Grundhoffer — the estranged husband of Little Women: LA star Briana Renee — has had a history of troubling behavior.

“Matt has always been unstable and dangerous,” a source who has spent extensive time with the former couple says. “Briana has worried about the safety of her children since she saw his true colors toward the end of their marriage. Matt was also the kind of guy who thought he could throw his ‘reality tv’ status around to leverage bigger and better things.”

As discussed on the show in which he periodically appeared, Grundhoffer threatened to kill Renee during their marriage and was arrested for strangling an ex-girlfriend in 2012. (Those charges were dropped after he completed court-ordered counseling.)

Grundhoffer, 41, was working at the Child Study and Treatment Center in Washington when he “pursued a personal and sexual relationship” with the minor, she alleged earlier this month in a civil complaint to the Superior Court of the State of Washington obtained by PEOPLE. The plaintiff was 16 when admitted to the facility and is 25 now. Her lawsuit names the State of Washington, its department of social and health services and the facility itself as defendants.

Grundhoffer has not been criminally charged or sued in this matter. He did not return PEOPLE’s request for comment. Grundhoffer reportedly left the center in 2012.

Radar Online first broke the story.

Back in December, Renee, 35, filed for a domestic violence restraining order against Grundhoffer alleging verbal abuse and death threats as well as alleging that he made disturbing and explicit sexual proposals to another woman. She was granted a restraining order as well as full custody of their nearly 2-year-old son, Maverick Jax.

A month later, Renee filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences and seeking child and spousal support of Maverick. (Renee is also mother to an 8-year-old daughter, Leiana, with her ex-husband Leif Manson, and Grundhoffer has a 12-year-old son from a previous relationship.) She and Grundhoffer had married in April 2015 and separated in the fall of 2017.

In an exclusive chat with PEOPLE on Tuesday, Renee said that she has found strength since their separation.

“I am feeling liberated, empowered and like the best version of myself,” she said. “I have found my strength in this moment of darkness. Knowing that I have a greater purpose and being there for my children, I’m leaning on my music and making art out of pain. My mom has moved in with me which has helped me in the transition.”

Asked what she hopes for her kids, Renee said, “that my son will just see love surrounding him and my daughter will only have positive female role models through this experience. And that they know that I will always protect them — that will always be my first and foremost priority.”

As for the alleged victim, Renee said that she hopes she is given support.

“My heart is absolutely broken for this young girl,” Renee explained. “I hope in this time we, especially as women, uplift each other and empower each other to use our voices when we are being hurt. It’s a lonely feeling when you think no one will listen to your pain, and we have to lean in and listen when there’s a cry for help. I hope that all victims of assault are given the help and the support they need.”

Renee and Grundhoffer’s marriage — and his infidelity — was often a source of controversy on the Lifetime series, with the reality star’s friends urging her to leave her husband. Two episodes in season 4 focused entirely on his admission that he was sexting other women during their marriage.

Renee announced her separation from Grundhoffer in November on Instagram.

“After 3 years, and bringing the most handsome little boy into this world, we have come to the end of our marriage,” she said. “We rode til the wheels fell off, and now I’m only focusing on being the best mama…#BrianaRenee#proudmama #lifehappens.”

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