The former partner of Married at First Sight contestant Chris Mansfield claims he "almost killed me a couple of times [through] strangling".
Speaking exclusively to the Weekend Herald from Seattle, Washington, Candace Casady, 32, claimed she suffered physical and mental abuse during her relationship with Mansfield, who is due to appear in the third season of the reality show which will premiere on Three on September 8.
Mansfield, via MediaWorks, has not responded to the claims.
The 39-year-old was arrested in Seattle on May 4, 2009, after a domestic violence complaint from Casady. He pleaded not guilty and was released after paying a bail amount of US$950 (NZ$1500).
He later appeared at a pre-trial hearing on May 18, after which a second was scheduled for June 15. However, a spokesperson for the Seattle Municipal Court confirmed Mansfield failed to appear and an outstanding warrant remains alongside his name.
Casady said she was pregnant with his child at the time he left the US but did not have the baby.
She believes his past leaves him posing a risk to the show's other contestants and potential partners and doesn't believe he should be on a reality TV show.
"I just don't want another girl to be hurt."
In her opinion, him leaving "saved my life". She believes she was almost killed.
She said she was speaking out because she wanted to warn other women.
She described him as a serial "womaniser".
MediaWorks did not respond to Casady's specific claims, but said yesterday it was "shocked" by the charge and said a check of each contestant's criminal record was carried out.
"We can confirm that prior to commencing filming, every participant is subject to a New Zealand criminal record check, participates in a psychiatric assessment and must have been deemed by a professional psychologist to be fit to participate in the format.
"All our participants are required to confirm that they have no undisclosed convictions of any kind and have never been investigated by the police for any criminal activity but not then convicted."
However, under the country's privacy law it was "not possible to obtain information about any charges or outstanding warrants (international or otherwise) an individual may face".
It revealed yesterday it was only made aware of the allegations after filming had been completed.
"Chris Mansfield had already completed filming prior to these allegations being made, and will not be required by the production or network for any further commitments."
Casady met Mansfield in May 2008, and quickly fell for the New Zealander, who arrived in the US on a temporary visa to play rugby, before staying for another seven years, she said.
"We immediately got into a relationship and the domestic violence started happening physically in January 2009," she claims.
"He asked me to move in and he was very charming when I first met him — won over all of my friends and I — and then I quickly isolated myself with him and his friends, from my family."
While he was awaiting trial on the domestic violence charge, she successfully requested the judge-imposed no-contact order be modified to allow her to contact Mansfield by phone.
"That is correct and the reason for that is because I was pregnant with his baby and I wanted, well, I thought I wanted, to make it work, because I was attached to the baby and thought that things could change with him," she said.
"I was in the cycle of abuse completely. I was in therapy even while I was with him and people were urging me to leave. But he had such a strong hold on me that I couldn't think of being anywhere but by his side."
There were other more insidious reasons behind her wanting the non-contact order lifted.
"I also tried to lift it because I spoke with a psychologist who told me that could anger him more and that a restraining order would get him to become even more controlling.
"He wanted to try to get me to move to New Zealand and away from my family so that he could be with me there."
Now happily married with two children, it took years for Casady to work through her problems, though she insists: "Life started getting better for me ...
"I have been through a lot of counselling, a lot of therapy, a lot of healing. I found meditation and yoga has helped me work through the trauma that I went through."
Domestic violence campaigner David White said he wanted Mansfield booted off the show.
"I absolutely believe that family violence is a learned behaviour so we can unlearn it just as easily in many ways."
He was disappointed to hear Mansfield had left the US before his case was heard.
How to get help if you are a victim of family violence
If you're in danger NOW:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.
Where to go for help or more information:
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz
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