Terrence Howard’s ex-wife Mi­chelle Ghent pictured with a black eye shocked all of America after she claimed that he brutally beat her.

And Ghent pulled no punches when she angrily cried to a close family friend: “I was beaten black and blue by my ex-hus­band!”

Although a judge recently ordered Howard, 44, to steer clear of Michelle following the blow-out fight in Costa Rica, Terrence insists: “I never laid my hands on that woman.

“She’s not well and I hope she can get well. It was me and my son that were maced, and we were just trying to help someone, help someone calm down.”

The incident made headlines when Ghent, a 36-year-old commercial pro­duction employee, showed up in a Los Angeles courtroom on Aug. 6 with a black eye to file a restraining order against Howard.

The couple was divorced in May, and Ghent maintained that Howard – star­ring as a shady neighbor who has an affair with Oprah’s character in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” – turned violent after she told him that their effort to rekindle their romance had failed.

Ghent claimed that the “Iron Man” actor sucker-punched her in the face, grabbed her by the neck and threw her against a wall during a July 29 argument in a vacation rental home.

In a statement, Howard said Ghent was mentally unstable and had tried to commit suicide. He also said it was “no coincidence” that Ghent applied for a restraining order while he was promoting his latest film, “The Butler.”

But it’s not the first time Howard has faced spouse-beating charges.

As The ENQUIRER reported in October 2007, police said Howard was arrested for viciously assaulting his first wife, Lori McCommas, and punching her in the face.

According to a criminal complaint regarding the 2001 incident, Howard busted down a locked door to get at his terrified wife as she was on the phone to po­lice calling for help.

During the in­cident, Howard showed up at Mc­Commas’ door after they argued over the phone. He was charged with assault, mak­ing terrorist threats and disorderly con­duct. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to dis­orderly conduct.

“Terrence gets angry very fast and there is no talking him down,” a family friend revealed. “The only reason he stopped beating up Lori in 2001 was because Howard’s brother followed him and pulled him off of her!

“And when the police showed up and asked Terrence what happened, he ca­sually said he broke down the door and hit his wife, like this is no big deal.”