Chloe Dykstra Accuses Chris Hardwick of Emotional Abuse, Shares Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships

Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, someone may have asked you, “Why did you stay?” It’s an unfair question. It puts blame on you when the abuse was not your fault. It isn’t your responsibility to entertain this question or to convince others that you were abused. But if you feel like you need to answer this question, or if you’re struggling to understand “why” yourself, actress Chloe Dykstra has a metaphor that may help.

Dykstra posted an essay on Medium Thursday night accusing comedian Chris Hardwick of emotional and sexual abuse. Though she does not name Hardwick, the descriptions in the essay imply that it is him. Dykstra and Hardwick dated for three years.

If you choose to read Dykstra’s essay on Medium, be aware that it includes descriptions detailing emotional abuse as well as sexual abuse, anorexia, and suicidal thoughts. 

Because their relationship was long, Dykstra wanted to address the question of why she, or anyone, stayed 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.

It isn’t uncommon for an abuser to display affection that makes the other person feel loved and wanted in order to prevent the person from leaving. If they’ve been alienated from their loved ones, they may only be getting this from the abuser. It’s a manipulative move, like when Dykstra said Hardwick told her he was planning to propose when she said she was leaving the relationship.

Dykstra wrote that these relationships are common and easy to slip into because “normalizing behavior happens incredibly quickly, and one can lose track of what is acceptable treatment.”

Since Dykstra posted the essay, writers for Nerdist, a site Hardwick founded and then sold to Legendary Entertainment in 2012, vowed not write for the platform anymore. On Friday, Nerdist tweeted a statement that Hardwick is not affiliated with the site and has removed any mention of Hardwick from the site.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, know that you aren’t alone and remember none of it is your fault. You survived, and you certainly don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you reacted to a manipulative situation.

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