It’s hard to look away from a story that promises “Armie Hammer” and “cannibalism” in the same headline. Over the weekend a series of unverified Instagram direct messages allegedly sent by the actor were leaked online, many of which were published by the Instagram user @houseofeffie, and their contents were disconcerting, to say the least. “I am 100% a cannibal. I want to eat you,” was one quote. “If I wanted to cut off one of your toes and keep it with me in my pocket so I always had a piece of you in my possession?” was another.
At first glance, the unverified Hammer sexts were cringe-worthy, a disturbing revelation of not just a celebrity’s private kink but a violent, gruesome one. Despite their graphic content, they seemed to squarely illustrate a kink and not much more, one that became a laughing stock on Twitter where Hammer’s name ultimately trended. People made connections to other comments Hammer has made publicly about his sex life, such as when he openly liked BDSM content on his public Twitter, or made comments in the press about rough sex. As a result of the DM screenshots, Hammer dropped out of a movie he was shooting with Jennifer Lopez. “I’m not responding to these bullshit claims, but in light of the vicious and spurious online attacks against me, I cannot, in good conscience now, leave my children for four months to shoot a film in the Dominican Republic,” he said in a statement.
But on Thursday Page Six published an interview with Hammer’s ex-girlfriend Courtney Vucekovich and the scope of his behavior became clearer. Vucekovich attested to his cannibal comments during their relationship, saying that, “he said to me he wants to break my rib and barbecue and eat it.” But she also describes a relationship dominated by emotional abuse. “He kind of captivates you and while being charming, he’s grooming you for these things that are darker and heavier and consuming,” Vucekovich told Page Six. “When I say consuming, I mean mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, just everything.”
She describes a period where the two spent three weeks together in almost constant company and when apart, Vucekovich says Hammer would text her 100 times per day. She also says Hammer’s drinking and drug use led him to “do some things with me that I wasn’t comfortable with.” “He put me in some dangerous situations where I was not OK, where he was heavily drinking, and I wasn’t drinking that way and it scared me,” she says.
While it’s easy to focus on the circus of the alleged Hammer texts and their outlandish content, Vucekovich’s testimony is right here in front of us, alleging emotional abuse in a relationship that caused her to seek out therapy in the aftermath. And so long as the press emphasizes the spectacular aspects of a story like this the mundane, exhausting, dehumanizing reality of domestic abuse remains out of the headlines.