Cilento's autobiography comes out next spring. The Scotsman previewed some of its contents.
Cilento and Connery married in 1962, just as his first appearance as James Bond in "Dr. No" was making him an international star. The couple met in 1957 while making a television play.
"Sean came from a Scottish working class background, and was not able to cope with the fame James Bond brought him," Cilento said.
Connery himself raised suspicions that he had abused Cilento when he said in a 1965 Playboy interview that he did not see anything "particularly wrong" with hitting a woman -- and again in 1993 when he said some women were looking for "the ultimate confrontation." He later said his statements were taken out of context and denied hitting Cilento.
"There was physical contact but it's important to see it in context," Cilento said. "You've got to remember he was probably twice my weight."
Connery has been married since 1975 to Micheline Roquebrune. Cilento was married to screenwriter and playwright Anthony Shaffer from 1985 until his death in 2001.