Actress and model Chloe Dykstra published an emotional essay on Medium Thursday accusing an unidentified ex-boyfriend of “long-term abuse,” sexual assault, and career blacklisting.
Based on the relationship timeline and key details she revealed, Twitter detectives think it’s safe to say the unnamed ex is TV host and Comic-Con icon Chris Hardwick, whom Dykstra dated from late 2011 to July 2014.
In her essay titled Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession, Dykstra said she met a man “almost 20 years my senior” at a convention when she was in her early 20s and they began dating.
Immediately, she claimed, he started exhibiting “controlling behavior” towards her and forced her to follow a strict set of rules — including staying in their hotel room while he attended parties at San Diego Comic Con, removing all pictures of male friends from her house, and abiding by a curfew.
The cosplayer claimed she was “quickly pressured to take an on-camera job at his company I didn’t want.” Dykstra co-hosted the cosplay show Just Cos on the YouTube channel for Hardwick’s company Nerdist. But she claimed other pressures took a much larger toll on her mental and physical health.
She accused the “sober” (another clue, as The Talking Dead host is sober) ex of frequently pressuring her into sex against her will, claiming that he found it funny when she laid there “in tears” and even had a nickname for the act. She wrote:
“One night he initiated, and I said, â€˜I’m so sorry, can we not tonight? I’m feeling really sick.’ He responded, â€˜I just want to remind you, the reason my last relationship didn’t work out was because of the lack of sex.’ It was a veiled threat. I succumbed.
Every night, I laid there for him, occasionally in tears. He called it â€˜starfishing’. He thought the whole idea was funny. To be fair, I did go along with it out of fear of losing him. I’m still recovering from being sexually used (not in a super fun way) for three years.”
Putting up with all of this emotional abuse, Dykstra revealed, turned her into a shell of a person:
“During all of this I lost myself, both mentally and physically. I lost 15 lbs within weeks, started pulling out my hair (and had to get extensions regularly to hide it). 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.”
Finally, after three years of “being snapped/yelled at constantly, very rarely being shown any affection,” Dykstra finally left her boyfriend.
But the abuse didn’t end after the breakup. Dykstra said that after they split, her ex “made calls to several companies I received regular work from to get me fired by threatening to never work with them. He succeeded. I was blacklisted.”
Looking back on why she put up with the alleged abuse for so long, Dykstra recalled having the same mindset of so many other women stuck in an abusive relationship:
“I believed that, to borrow an analogy from a friend, if I kept digging I would find water. And sometimes I did. Just enough to sustain me. And when you’re dying of thirst, that water is the best water you’ll ever drink. When you’re alienated from your friends, there’s no one to tell you that there’s a drinking fountain 20 feet away. And when your self-worth reaches such depths after years of being treated like you’re worthless, you might find you think you deserve that sort of treatment, and no one else will love you.”
Dykstra admitted she’s coming forward with these allegations for her own “closure” and as “a warning” to others trapped in this kind of relationship she said is “so common” and “so easy to slip into.”
Reps for Hardwick have not yet responded to the allegations, but Twitter has already erupted with rage and frustration.
The response is mixed, to be fair, with some users saying Hardwick deserves due process and shouldn’t immediately be vilified — but most responders are already getting in lynch mob formation.
Head over to Medium to read Dykstra’s full essay and read some strong reactions (below).
So, anyone want to talk about how Chris Hardwick is trash? https://t.co/HkLJXjdCIQ
â€” Yvette (@TheSciBabe) June 15, 2018
I’ve never personally had interaction with him, but you hear things. And I’m not going to let a fear of not being allowed to write for Nerdist anymore keep me from supporting a survivor of abuse
â€” Donna Dickens (@MildlyAmused) June 15, 2018
This was very hard to read for a couple of reasons. First, Chris Hardwick always *seemed* like a decent guy but you never know what goes on between 2 people. Second, I was in a similar relationship a few years back, and I’m still dealing with the effects.https://t.co/vpsffFZsqm
â€” micki (@mickisuzette) June 15, 2018
Usually Iâ€™m not surprised by abuse allegations but Iâ€™m truly shocked by the Chris Hardwick news.
It took a lot of courage for Chloe Dykstra to come forward.
Bye, Chris. Cancelled.
â€” RiotGrlâœ¨ (@ErinLea7) June 15, 2018
Let’s be frank: Chloe Dykstra’s story is heartbreaking, to put it mildly. In this country, though, we absolutely need to start letting the accused (*ahem* Chris Hardwick) respond BEFORE we fry them over an open flame, though.
â€” joe mathieu (@JayCeeEm) June 15, 2018
This Chloe Dykstra/Chris Hardwick news is already proving that people donâ€™t take emotional abuse seriously. Iâ€™m sickened by the number of people I see writing off the abuse she suffered as just a “messy relationship.”
â€” Ginny Di @ DCC ðŸ’‹ (@itsginnydi) June 15, 2018
sometimes abusers don’t leave physical bruises, but it is still abuse.
â€” Katy Stoll (@katystoll) June 15, 2018
There should always be skepticism when it comes to #metoo but the sincerity of this letter (it’s about Chris Hardwick) is well worth the read. The abuse Skydart went through is harrowing, to say the least. https://t.co/NMTZYUlk2P
â€” Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 15, 2018
â€” Jade Budowski (@jadebudowski) June 15, 2018
As much as it shocks to see the monster behind the nice facade, it’s nothing compared to the terror Chloe Dykstra had to endure. Being good and being nice are not the same. Chris Hardwick is canceled!
â€” Alexander Hoffmann (@Sabuto) June 15, 2018
[Image via Brian To/WENN.]