Cosplay Star Alleges Domestic Abuse By Nerdist Founder Chris Hardwick
Chloe Dykstra detailed her three-year experience of alleged domestic abuse in a widely-shared Medium post.
Content warning: this piece discusses alleged domestic abuse and sexual assault.
A cosplay star has penned a moving essay about her three-year experience of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Although Chloe Dykstra's post does not name her former partner, it is all-but-confirmed to be Nerdist founder and talk show host Chris Hardwick.
Dykstra, now 29, met Hardwick when she was 25-years-old at a convention. He was almost 20 years her senior.
She writes on Medium that, within two weeks of their relationship, "rules had been established", including that she was to keep her evenings free for him, not have any close male friends, not drink alcohol, and not speak in public places.
"He believed that people recognized him and were listening to our conversations. Our dinners out were usually silent, him on his phone."
The most serious accusation is that of sexual assault.
"By this time, like I said, I was terrified to piss him off- so I did what he said... including let him sexually assault me. Regularly. I was expected to be ready for him when he came home from work," 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 also claims that once, after she underwent surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, the first question he asked the doctor was: "When do you think I can have sex with her again?"
Her Medium post -- titled 'Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession' -- offers this explanation as to why she chose to stay in an abusive relationship.
Here is my answer: 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.
She finally left him after three years, immediately starting a relationship with someone else. However, she says that because of this, Hardwick -- now a television host and "powerhouse CEO" -- successfully had her blacklisted from the entire industry.
"He 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. With the assistance of a woman who'd gained my trust and my heart over the past year, he steamrolled my career."
The post has been read tens of thousands of times, with the nerd community rallying around Dykstra.
Hardwick has since issued a statement denying all allegations of abuse and assault.
“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. 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.”
All references to Hardwick's name have now been scrubbed from the Nerdist website.
“Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017," said a spokesperson fro Legendary Digital Networks, the parent company of Nerdist. "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.”
The Nerdist Twitter account posted support services for victims of abuse and sexual violence, along with a statement that it doesn't "tolerate discrimination, harassment and other forms of abuse."
The season two premiere of Hardwick's talk show, Talking With Chris Hardwick, is due to air this Sunday on AMC.
However, it's being reported that representatives for celebs appearing on the show -- which this season includes Donald Glover, Chris Pratt, Bill Hader, Ethan Hawke, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg -- are putting pressure on AMC to pull or delay the series, as they are "very uncomfortable" with the Hardwick association in the post-#MeToo era.
If you would like to access support around issues of domestic abuse or sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or talk to your local GP.