We Believe You, Chloe Dykstra
Chloe Dykstra is an actress, model and cosplayer who has worked for places like SyFy and Nerdist. You may have seen her in fan vids or cosplay specials or read her articles on places like The Daily Dot. This week, she wrote an extensive Medium piece detailing the alleged emotional, verbal and sexual assault she experienced at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, a man she describes as ‘a cheery-sounding famous guy’ almost 20 years her senior who ‘grew from a mildly successful podcaster to a powerhouse CEO of his own company.’
Dykstra, age 29, who dated co-founder and CEO of Nerdist Industries Chris Hardwick, age 46, for three years between 2011 and 2014, details various incidents, which we shall quote here.
Our relationship started out poorly. Within 2 weeks, rules were quickly established. Some of these included:
1. I “should not want to go somewhere at night”. My nights were expected to be reserved for him, as he had a busy schedule. This alienated me from my friends.
2. I was to not have close male friends unless we worked together. All photos of male friends were to be removed from my apartment. This was heartbreaking for me, as my best friend happened to be male.
3. As he was sober, I was not to drink alcohol. Before we began dating he said, “I noticed you have a glass of wine with dinner. That’s going to stop.”
4. I was not to speak in public places (elevators, cars with drivers, restaurants where tables were too close) as he believed that people recognized him and were listening to our conversations. Our dinners out were usually silent, him on his phone.
5. I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of us. (Eventually, he softened on this rule, but was very stern about me asking permission.)
She talks about how the alleged sexual assault began on a regular basis.
How did this happen? At the beginning of our relationship, I was quite ill often due to my diet, something I’ll get to in a bit. One night he initiated, and I said, “I’m so sorry, can we not tonight? I’m feeling really sick.” He responded, “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 “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.
The first time I told him I loved him after 6 months of hoping he’d say it first, his response was (and I quote), “I think I love you too, f****t.”
Sometimes he’d let me go play D&D, but I always had a curfew. He would yell in his voicemails at me if I didn’t answer his calls. I was expected to follow him everywhere and exist pretty much solely for him, save for a hosting job once in awhile.
When cameras were on us? He was a prince. Turn them off, he was a nightmare.
Because of my leaving him for someone else, 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 woman actively made it her mission to destroy my friendships. And she did, because by the time they’d realized she was… an unreliable source… the damage had already been done. To be fair, in break-ups like this one, some friends will just naturally gravitate towards the person who wields more power (and the ability to employ them), especially in the business I’m in- despite whatever history exists. Still, there’s so much more to that woman’s story (including 6 other women whose reputations/careers she attempted to sabotage) but I don’t want to digress too far from my point, which is abusive relationships, not friendships. This time in my life was agony.
The piece also reveals a bout of serious illness during Dykstra’s life, and how her ex reacted.
I’ll leave you with this: I lost my period for a year because of anorexia. Somehow, I got pregnant ectopically (I was told I’d have to have surgery IMMEDIATELY because ectopic pregnancies are very dangerous and can often be fatal)- 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.
Let me add here: I’ll never forget the night this man slept in a cot at the foot of my hospital bed after my surgery. It made me believe that deep down inside of him maybe there was a man who loved me.
Then, after my recovery, he and my mother were greeted by the doctor.
“The surgery went well, she’ll be fine,” said my doctor.
“Thank god,” said my mother.
“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.
I heartily recommend that you read the full piece yourselves. It’s incredibly important that we do not forget the ethos of the #MeToo movement during this time: Believe women, speak truth to power, demand structural change.
We believe you, Chloe Dykstra. Solidarity.
(Header photograph of Chloe Dykstra courtesy of Getty Images)
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