An Open Letter To Chloe Dykstra Who Was Abused By Chris Hardwick: You Are Me

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Chloe dykstra Chris Hardwick

In what turned out to be a shocking and disappointing news alert on my phone, Chris Hardwick (of Nerdist, and The Talking Dead fame) had been indirectly accused of emotional and sexual abuse by his ex-girlfriend, cosplayer Chloe Dykstra.

Dykstra had published a piece on Medium recounting her days with Hardwick as a young and naive 20-something year old nerd.

She supposedly met Hardwick at a convention, which isn't too hard to believe as he is the king of all things nerd, hence his brand that skyrocketed, "Nerdist."

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Dykstra writes, "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.)"

I want to address the remainder of this directly to Chloe Dykstra, and to all the other Chloes out there that have been, in some form or another, abused. Let us be your voice.

Dear Chloe,

It was incredibly courageous and brave of you to come out with the information regarding your past abuse. 

I believe you.

My mother was emotionally abusive and as I read your piece, I began to get the chills. I, too, was not allowed to visit or have play dates with friends as a child, thus alienating all the kids I knew and ended up lonely.

I believe you.

I wasn't allowed to take a photo of my mother, and if she realized I had — or that my father had — she would blow up like a volcano leaving us to clean up the lava and attempt to not get burnt.

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I believe you.

Growing up this way left me with a really awkward love map, attracting me to men who were emotionally abusive. I was lucky in the sense that I didn't see this particular "boyfriend" regularly, but I too was forced into having sex when I didn't want to. He threatened me with not only his future affections, but also a knife.

I believe you.

You were blacklisted in the industry in which you had made your career because of this person, who I will no longer name.

Chloe, I'm so sorry.

I can relate. My abuser friend requests my friends/co-workers on Facebook and tells her own circle that I am in need of rehab because I take prescribed (by a licensed psychiatrist I see monthly) anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. She tells the people in her world I am selfish, a horrible mother to my child. This is the same woman who took my dying father's hospital food and ate it in front of him, even though he was hungry and wanted it.

I believe you.

I had — and still sometimes suffer with — suicidal ideation. I am so grateful you are still with us and that you didn't take the dark path I sometimes fight not to take. The world is better with you in it.

I believe you.

"I believed, like you did, that if I kept digging I would find water. And sometimes I did. Just enough to sustain me. And like you said, 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."

I couldn't have written it better myself.

I believe you.

To anyone out there suffering abuse by the hands of someone who is supposed to be a protector, a significant other, or a friend, please know there is a way out. 

You don't deserve this.

Chloe did not deserve this.

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I did not deserve this.

It may feel like getting out is harder than climbing the highest of mountains, and I won't lie — it's not easy. But your life is worth it. There is love out there directed toward you and it's being blocked by the darkest of clouds so you may not see it right away, but it's there.

I promise you. I believe you. Don't give up.

If you are in an abusive situation, please reach out to someone safe or call RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Or you can chat online by clicking here

Liza Walter is a writer who focuses on current events, pop culture, and true crime. She loves cheese, Game of Thrones, her husband, and son. Not necessarily in that order. You can follow her on Twitter @NerdyLiza.