Courtney Stodden says they were 'not a child bride' but a 'child who was exploited': 'I'm haunted by a lot of s***'
Courtney Stodden is speaking out about being groomed by their ex-husband Doug Hutchison, who they married when they were 16 and he was 51.
Stodden, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, spoke to Alex Cooper on the Call Her Daddy podcast in which they recalled their experience with The Green Mile actor, who they legally divorced in 2020.
Stodden explained how Hutchison, who they initially met over email, was able to convince their parents that they should get married just one week after meeting in person.
“My mom has gotten a lot of hate, and I understand why,” Stodden said. “If I ever have a baby and I’m raising that baby, from my own experiences, I would never sign my kid off, ever, to an adult man, who is 34 years older. There is just no way that would happen. But I think she thought she was doing something that was going to make me happy, truly, I really do believe that. In retrospect, she knows it was the wrong decision.”
Hutchison, who also appeared on the show Lost, first connected with Stodden under the guise of teaching them about acting. However, Stodden claimed that his intention with starting their relationship was really to “get a free pass to molest a child.” At the time, though, Stodden believed they were truly in love with the actor, despite not knowing exactly what being married meant.
Stodden alleged that during their marriage to Hutchison, in which they were not able to sign any legal documents, the actor was “extremely emotionally abusive,” as well as physically abusive. The Celebrity Big Brother star also claimed that Hutchison, who looked at them “like a child,” had a gun in the house.
“I think that’s the ultimate power a groomer has over a child,” Stodden shared. "That emotional abuse and control.” They continued, "I feel like I didn't even have control over my own body, my own finances. ... I was just so controlled."
Stodden clarified that they don't believe they had Stockholm syndrome — which is defined by the Cleveland Clinic as "a coping mechanism to a captive or abusive situation" — but was trauma bonded to Hutchison, making it hard for them to believe the reality of their situation.
Stodden, who got emotional and held back tears during the interview, said that they're still healing. "It's very, very fresh for me." They also admitted they're in therapy and "working through all of this" and seeing things "so much more clearly."
"When I go to sleep my dreams are so normal and then I wake up my life is so freaking insane," they said. "I just like to sleep most of the day," adding that they're "haunted by a lot of s***."
The 27-year-old additionally divulged that they had a drinking problem and struggled with disordered eating and poor body image. "You see yourself from every angle in the media and it completely shattered me," they recalled. "So I had my breasts done right when I turned 18. ... I wanted to be the woman everyone expected me to be." However, they said they're "so ready to get them out." "I loved having them, I'm not against plastic surgery. If you want to do something to your body that is your freaking choice, but my back feels like a 90-year-old woman."
Now free from Hutchison, Stodden told Cooper that they want to make sure people know their situation is not all that uncommon in the United States.
“About 300,000 children, underage children, were married to adults between the years of 2000 to 2018,” they explained. “And 86% of those children are girls. This is in this country. We think of child brides as some foreign situation, but it’s in the USA right now. Some as young as 10 years old.”
Stodden also spoke out about being bullied by people like Chrissy Teigen, who recently came under fire after tweets resurfaced in which she told Stodden they should take a “dirt nap.” Stodden claimed they have never spoken personally to Teigen, who publicly apologized.
“I was not a child bride. I was a child who was exploited,” Stodden explained. “I think that is something that people should think about.”
Stodden previously opened up about this misconception in a 2020 Instagram post, in which they celebrated their 26th birthday. At the time, the reality star wrote, “Ten years ago, I turned 16. Nothing could have prepared me for what was around the corner. I had a child’s mind, a teenager’s body, and I was a virgin. However, it appeared to everyone around me that I was a woman who was grown and able to make my own choices. According to many, I was ‘mature’ enough to date men my father’s age (or older), and eventually marry one.”
Stodden, who at 27 is an advocate for animal welfare and is currently writing a memoir about their experiences, got engaged to Chris Sheng in 2021.
On his Instagram post about the engagement, Sheng wrote, “I feel so blessed and fortunate. We have both grown so much since we first met, and the fact that we have both been able to grow into better, stronger, more secure individuals while still being in a relationship together makes me have faith that this partnership will last a lifetime.”
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