updated 05/12/2009 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/12/2009 AT 9:30 AM ET
Kate Gosselin, whose adventures raising twins and sextuplets are chronicled on the hit TLC reality show Jon & Kate Plus Eight, is fighting back at reports that she has been having a more-than-platonic relationship with Steve Neild, a bodyguard who frequently travels with her and her family.
Two weeks after stories linked her husband, Jon Gosselin, with a 23-year-old school teacher, Kate says she is now the target of tabloid lies. “The next story coming out from the animals that stalk us is about our security person and his family,” Kate tells PEOPLE exclusively. “Already the allegations they’re making about me are disgusting, unthinkable, unfathomable, and I am horrified.”
“These are people who absolutely love us and want to see us through to the end,” Kate says of Neild and his family. “Of course, both of them travel with us at times, and we’ve spent holidays together, because, in this situation, your circle grows smaller and smaller, and it’s very natural to become friends with your manager, your publicist, your security team … they’re the only people you have left. And now they’re coming under fire.”
With few close companions, and her marriage to Jon hitting a rough patch, Kate says she is terrified that this latest round of stories will drive away the friends she and her family have left. “I’m totally panicking, and thinking, ‘We are going to lose our last set of friends.’ I keep calling them, begging, ‘Seriously, I’m so sorry. Don’t run away from us.’ They keep saying, We’re fine, we’re fine.’ But they have paparazzi in front of their house. It’s so upsetting.”
Most troubling to her is the realization “we opened our world to this,” she says, adding, “but we willingly made a conscious decision to put this out there. Our friends and family did not. I had no idea we would potentially take down the people that we love around us.”
She adds: “It’s like saying, ‘Thanks for your support, let me sic the paparazzi on you.’ It’s very very difficult. It leaves us, essentially, alone and friendless. It’s terrible.
Ultimately, Kate says she does not know what she can do to stop the insanity. “The scary thing for me is [the tabloids] are going to take information and create a story. It’s a matter of, ‘When will they stop?’ They’re going to keep going, and they’ll make up stuff to connect the dots.”
Kate clears the air about the other tabloid reports – including her feelings about her husband’s bar-hopping and her plans for her family’s future – in the upcoming issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.