Model Chloe Dykstra has penned an extraordinary essay outlining the emotional and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her celebrity ex-boyfriend.
Dykstra, a 29-year-old model and actor from the US produces and co-hosts a web series Just Cos, and is a cast member of the SyFy show Heroes of Cosplay.
Her first-person account of the abusive three-year relationship was published, but unlisted, on the Medium website.
Dykstra, 29, references the #MeToo movement and describes the essay as "part closure and part warning", detailing a relationship in which she was restricted from going out at night, having male friends, speaking in public places or taking photos of them as a couple.
Though she never actually names the man in the piece, she describes a "mildly successful podcaster" who grew into "a powerhouse CEO of his own company".
Dykstra admits: "I made the choice to accept his controlling behaviour, as he'd just left his long-term girlfriend and I assumed that he was going through some serious emotional discomfort. This was a huge mistake."
She also describes sexual abuse, saying, "I was expected to be ready for him when he came home from work" and describes crying as her partner had sex with her.
"I lost myself, both mentally and physically. I lost 15 lbs (7kg) within weeks, started pulling out my hair (and had to get extensions regularly to hide it)," she wrote. "I generally stopped speaking unless spoken to while with him, drifting through life like a ghost. I would try to sleep in as late as possible so my days were shorter. I stopped listening to music entirely. I ceased to be. I was an ex-person."
She writes that she had very little personal support as she had been alienated from her own friends "other than an occasional party I was obligated to leave early when he decided it was time.
"Sometimes he'd let me go play D & D [dungeons and dragons], but I always had a curfew. He would yell in his voicemails at me if I didn't answer his calls."
Dykstra writes that she eventually left the man in question and that after the breakup he made calls to companies "to get me fired by threatening to never work with them," and that he and a female colleague "steamrolled my career".
"He succeeded. I was black-listed," she writes.
She says at her lowest point, she contemplated taking her own life.
"Obviously, I didn't go through with it, but over the years I considered it many times. With the help of a therapist, a psychiatrist, good people, plus a lot of hard work, I've managed to rebuild my life and I'm in a much better place," she writes.
"But I never received closure. For the long-lasting trauma, physical and emotional. For the time I was screamed at for spilling some bottled water in a rental car. For the time I asked him if he "was okay" one too many times. For the time I gasped at a cute puppy and I was punished for startling him."
She also talks about a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
"I lost my period for a year because of anorexia. But somehow, I got pregnant ectopically," she writes. "When I found out, I collapsed on the floor, terrified he would be furious with me. Between sobs I told him over the phone, 'Please don't be mad, and don't worry, I have to have surgery to have it removed or it could kill me at any time'.
"My fear of his anger at me for getting pregnant was literally greater than my fear of death."
Dykstra describes an exchange she said her mother and ex had with the doctor following the surgery.
"After my recovery, he and my mother were greeted by the doctor," she wrote.
"'The surgery went well, she'll be fine,' said my doctor.
"'That's great. When do you think I can have sex with her again?' said my ex. It was his first question. My mother never forgot."
As soon as the bombshell essay went live, people were quick to join the dots on who Dykstra was referring to.
A cursory Google of Dykstra's relationship timeline suggests the man she is levelling claims against is Chris Hardwick, a popular podcaster, founder of the Nerdist company, host of NBC's game show The Wall and AMC's Talking Dead, and a regular MC at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego.
Dykstra writes in her essay that she ended the relationship when she was 25 which makes it about four years ago.
Hardwick announced their breakup on Twitter in 2014.
She also writes in the essay that the man in question is almost 20 years older than she is. Hardwick is 46.
Dykstra also references the fact that she was expected to follow her ex's lead when it came to sobriety. Hardwick has been vocal about abstaining from alcohol since 2003.
In the essay, Dykstra says her ex became engaged shortly after she left him.
Hardwick married actor, model and heiress Lydia Hearst in 2016 (33-year-old Hearst is the great-granddaughter of the newspaper publisher and politician William Randolph Hearst).
Since the article went live, Dykstra has chosen to take a break from social media.
She continued with this tweet today:
Following the publication of Dykstra's article, Hardwick's name has been scrubbed from the Nerdist website.
Legendary Entertainment, which owns Nerdist Industries where Hardwick launched his career as a comic and podcaster, released a statement:
"Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017," it reads. "He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks. The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation."
In March, NBC renewed its Hardwick-hosted game show The Wall for a 20-episode third season, though no premiere date was announced. AMC also just announced his summer bridge talk show Talking With Chris Hardwick returns this Sunday.
On Thursday, BBC America announced that Hardwick would moderate the network's Doctor Who panel at Comic-Con next month. Hardwick is also pencilled in to host AMC's The Walking Dead panel at the convention.
NBC and AMC have not responded to various media outlet's requests for comment on Dykstra's post.
UPDATE: Hardwick has responded to the essay in a statement to Deadline.
"These are very serious allegations and not to be taken lightly which is why I've taken the day to consider how to respond.
"I was heartbroken to read Chloe's post. Our three year relationship was not perfect—we were ultimately not a good match and argued—even shouted at each other—but I loved her, and did my best to uplift and support her as a partner and companion in any way and at no time did I sexually assault her.
"When we were living together, I found out that Chloe had cheated on me, and I ended the relationship."
(Dykstra's essay mentions kissing another person near the end of the relationship, but recounts the subsequent events in a very different light).
"For several weeks after we broke up, she asked to get back together with me and even told me she wanted to have kids with me, 'build a life' with me and told me that I was 'the one,' but I did not want to be with someone who was unfaithful.
"I'm devastated to read that she is now accusing me of conduct that did not occur. l was blindsided by her post and always wanted the best for her. As a husband, a son, and future father, I do not condone any kind of mistreatment of women."
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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