Chris Hardwick
Television host Chris Hardwick takes part in a panel discussion of the BBC America's new talk show "The Nerdist" during the 2013 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California, January 5, 2013. Reuters/Gus Ruelas

Nerdist has distanced itself from American actor and podcaster Chris Hardwick after an ex-girlfriend accused him of emotional and sexual abuse. Chloe Dykstra did not name Hardwick on her article, but the clues on his identity all pointed to him.

In an unlisted article she wrote for Medium, Dykstra recalled an ex-boyfriend who was abusive toward her. She said this man had his own company, did podcast, and a celebrity himself. He was also almost 20 years older than her. Hardwick is 46 and she is 28 years old.

“When cameras were on us? He was a prince. Turn them off, he was a nightmare,” the 29-year-old actress wrote. She detailed his abuses, saying she established restricting rules for her within two weeks of dating.

She should not go somewhere at night because it was her duty to tend to him. She was forbidden to have close male friends. She should not speak in public places because he believed people recognised him.

Those were just some of the rules that he had imposed on her. She was also pressured to take on an on-camera job at his company even though she didn’t want to because he said she would be ungrateful not to accept it.

This man also allegedly sexually assaulted her. Even though she was feeling sick, she couldn’t say no to having sex with him because he told her his last relationship didn’t work out because of the lack of sex. She took it as a veiled attempt, and so she did not refuse. That happened every night. She got pregnant ectopically, and she had to have surgery because of it. She said she feared his anger more for getting pregnant than her fear of death.

Because of how he treated her, she had lost her self-worth. She had eventually left him for another man. But her nightmare didn’t end there. He made calls to several companies to get her fired by threatening to never work with them again. He had succeeded in having her blackmailed, and he did this with the help of a woman who gained her trust.

Nerdist, the company he had founded, was quick to denounce him after Dykstra’s article was published. It has scrubbed his name from its website and erased all mentions of him as the original founder.

“We were shocked to read the news this morning. Nerdist prides itself on being an inclusive company made up of a positive, diverse community of people who come together to share, celebrate, and discuss the things we love. The type of behaviour is contrary to everything we stand for and believe in, and we absolutely don’t tolerate discrimination, harassment, and other forms of abuse,” the statement reads. It listed contact information of assault help hotlines in the US.

Nerdist’s parent company, Legendary, also issued a statement, saying Hardwick had not been involved in the operations of Nerdist for two years before the expiration of his contract in December 2017.

“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.”

Hardwick and Dykstra dated for three years from 2011. He is now married to Lydia Heart, a model and blogger and scion of the newspaper publishing dynasty Hearst.