Christina Ricci’s estranged husband physically & emotionally abused her for years

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Last summer, Christina Ricci called the cops on her husband James Heerdegen. That set off a series of events which were both familiar and disturbing. In short order, Ricci asked for and was given an emergency protective order against Heerdegen, then she filed for divorce. A few details began petering out, and it looked very much like Ricci was leaving an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. We hadn’t heard anything about Ricci or her divorce in months, but this week, Ricci asked for a permanent domestic violence restraining order. She detailed the extent of the abuse she suffered at Heerdegen’s hands throughout their marriage.

Christina Ricci has filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order against her estranged husband James Heerdegen six months after she filed for divorce. A judge granted Ricci’s request and under the restraining order, Heerdegen must stay 100 yards away from Ricci, and he will also have no visitation rights with their 6-year-old son Freddie and must stay away from the family’s dog, PEOPLE confirms. The 40-year-old actress alleges she was physically abused by Heerdegen, in the request on Tuesday by Ricci’s attorney Samantha Spector and obtained by PEOPLE.

A rep for Ricci and an attorney for Heerdegen did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Heerdegen’s attorney told TMZ that his client “unequivocally denies all allegations of abuse made by Ms. Ricci as having occurred in 2020.”

In the filing, Ricci claims she was subjected to “severe physical and emotional abuse” by Heerdegen with “many of these acts of abuse” taking place in front of their son. In her declaration in the filing, Ricci claimed the alleged abuse started as soon as she learned of her pregnancy in October 2013.

“I began to feel extremely isolated,” Ricci wrote of the alleged subsequent abuse, describing a family vacation in New Zealand where Heerdegen “said something that made me think” he “could kill me.”

“He said the only way he could feel sorry for me is if I were dismembered into small pieces,” wrote Ricci in the declaration. “That night I hid all the knives in the cabin where we were staying. I feared for my life and the life of our son. I slept in a separate bedroom with Freddie, and I locked the door.”

The Addams Family star alleges Heerdegen “brutally attacked” her on Dec. 16, 2019. Months later, Ricci said she told the cinematographer she wanted a divorce only to find herself “stuck in the house with a man who had physically and emotionally abused me, and knew that I wanted to end the marriage” when the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown began. Ricci wrote in her declaration that once the lockdown commenced, Heerdegen allegedly “focused solely on punishing and terrorizing me 24 hours a day,” adding, “I was afraid to sleep at night.”

On June 2, the actress alleges Heerdegen “chased me through and out of the house” while trying to take her cell phone from her while she was trying to call 911. “He grabbed my wrists and hands, dragged me, and slammed my body into the fire pit we have in the yard,” she wrote in her declaration. “I suffered cuts, bruising, and soreness of my hip, which still causes me pain today.”

On June 25, Ricci says Heerdegen followed her around the house “all morning, screaming at me, spitting on me, throwing coffee at me, and throwing a chair at me” in the presence of their son.

[From People]

It keeps going and going. He began abusing her when she was pregnant, and after they were married in 2013. His abusive behavior escalated throughout their marriage and it became unbearable for her throughout 2019 and the first half of 2020. The moment last summer when she called 911 after he abused her doesn’t even sound like the first time she called the cops. I feel so sorry for her and it’s so painful to think that this has been happening to her for years. I hope this douchebag goes to jail.

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Photos courtesy of Getty.

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31 Responses to “Christina Ricci’s estranged husband physically & emotionally abused her for years”

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  1. Noki says:

    What a jerk,he towers over her,she is tiny. Let me be clear abuse is abuse but my blood boils extra when physicaly its no where near a ‘fair fight’.

  2. Valerie says:

    That is so sad. I’ve always liked her, ever since I saw her in Casper. <3

    • ce says:

      Same! One thing I’ve noticed with these abuse stories in celebrity relationships is that it always seems like the woman falls off the face of the earth/neglects her career suddenly. Mandy Moore comes to mind. I hope that Christina is able to rebuild herself and the work comes flowing back. People love her

      • Deering24 says:

        ce—I was wondering what the heck happened with her career. It made no sense she went from A-list roles to radio silence to projects that didn’t make sense given her talent. This explains a lot.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      I agree with both of you. she was PERFECT as Wednesday Adams and I’ve loved her in everything I’ve seen her in.

      and her abusive ex is one ugly person, inside and out. I hope he goes to jail and that she has a career comeback. poor woman.

      • Emm says:

        Yes! She was one of my favorites from the 90’s. I dressed my 8yo as Wednesday for Halloween last year because she has the long dark hair perfect for the braids and I always think of Ricci in the part. Also loved her in Now and Then, along with the rest of the cast, and Casper.

        He’s a soulless coward abusing a woman a quarter of his size. I’m so happy she got out and got her son out of that so he doesn’t think that is a normal relationship.

  3. MM2 says:

    Horrifyingly, when a woman is pregnant is a common time for men to switch from emotional/psychological abuse to include physical. It makes sense- the woman seems trapped & unable to leave, the man is suddenly not the whole focus of their universe & something else is distinctly more important than him. The control that an abusive man can wield on a pregnant woman breaks my damn heart & it never ceases to hit my gut that this pattern is extra cruel.
    I applaud her for leaving & for not succumbing to the pressures of ‘not airing dirty laundry’ & the false narrative that women need to keep their families intact while the man is burning it all down & harming the child permanently. She, her kid & dog are better off under her control & hers alone.

    • Heather G says:

      This is so true. I lived this for 7 years, and finally got out. It cost me dearly in money and other things, but I left that abusive a$$hole. Of course he immediately went out and found another wife, nearly 20 years younger. I shudder at the thought of what she’s living through. He actually told me, ” I don’t get enraged at her like I did with you, because I am not threatened by her. She’s young and not accomplished, unlike you.” Implying his abuse was my fault, typical narcissistic abuser. And I still have to co-parent with this jerk. He is literally the only human being on this planet that I loathe. Well, except Donald Trump!

    • It’s also really common for abusive mates to leave when the wife becomes pregnant (Even when they were TRYING ) as I found out after 7 years of marriage. I thought it was unusual, but I couldn’t believe how many people told me stories of people they knew it happened to also. It turned out to be a HUGE blessing for me, but it was terrifying at the time as he had isolated me, I had no job, no money and he wanted to kick me out. I went on to get my masters and go on the internet and find an amazing man while my ex still lives with his parents! I hope she can find peace and support. But I always lecture when I teach parenting-”It’s FAR better for a kid to have two separate happy parents then two miserable ones. Kids learn relationship skills from what they see, not what you say, so GET OUT, and get healthy.”

  4. Watson says:

    Abuse always makes me sick but the idea that you would abuse the woman who is pregnant and carrying your own child makes me even sicker.

  5. WingKingdom says:

    My God. 7 years. He waited until she was pregnant, and therefore he thought he had her trapped. I’m so happy she got the outcome she did in court- it’s the right one. And I feel for the thousands of women who don’t get the right outcome, where their abusers get 50% custody or visitation with the kids.

    I just always liked Christina, and I hope she can rebuild a good life with her son.

  6. Soupie says:

    Even though all of it is absolutely terrible the fact that the guy has to stay away from the family dog got my attention.

    I really pray for peace, safety and healing for Christina, her son and their dog. I lived through an abusive situation with my 2 dogs. It was so painful to realize how much it was affecting them as well as me – and the other person’s 2 dogs.

    The thing that bothers me is that Christina will probably have to be looking over her shoulder for a really long time. That guy is obviously a psychopath.

    • Anony83 says:

      Abuse of pets is one of the key factors we’d look for when doing dangerousness assessments during domestic violence work – it’s one of the most common predecessors of abusive relationships that can turn deadly and was ALWAYs a factor that we brought up with the judge.

      That fact and the fact that he isn’t even allowed supervised visits with their child means the evidence must be extremely compelling. Judges don’t hand out orders like this like candy.

      (So glad you and the pups are safe now. It’s one of the main reasons DV advocates push hard for shelters to take pets.)

      • L84Tea says:

        I have a sister who years ago dated an abusive psycho. He killed her dog. Luckily she moved far away and has been happily married for years to a great guy. The former abusive psycho is currently serving a life sentence for, yup, murdering someone. :-(

      • Lizzythe2 says:

        OMG – L84Tea your sister made it our of there. It’s great she was able to find one of the good ones.

  7. Rapunzel says:

    That Ricci is famous and rich and was still so trapped in her abusive relationship is a testimony to how difficult it is for women to get out.

  8. Shannon says:

    Obviously abuse is never okay, but seeing the size difference between these two people makes me extra angry. Christina is 5’1 with a petite frame and if you look at pictures of her in flats standing next to James, the top of her head barely reaches the height of his shoulders. He is a monster.

  9. Justjj says:

    She is still as gorgeous as she was at the peak of her career in the late 90s, wow. She looks great. I hope she makes a come back and does TV or something and that she and her son get to safety and this dude goes to prison. Poor thing. Have you noticed how dudes that are emotionally and physically abusive always pull this on women who are beautiful, successful, and kind? Not that it makes them less of a PoS if women are not those things, nor do women have to follow any kind of conventions of those standards, but wow, it always floors me when I hear about emotional or physical abuse and see this kind, lovely, woman… and then I see the guy… he always looks like a low-life creeper and a total loser compared to his target (I mean obvs, but still). I hope she gets her life back and this guy goes back to the dumpster he crawled out of.

  10. Case says:

    Horrific. I wish her, her son Freddie, and their pup peace and healing.

  11. lucy2 says:

    I’m so sorry she has been going through this. He sounds like a monster.
    I hope she and her son stay safe, and have whatever help they need.

  12. LadyJ says:

    She stayed at the hotel I used to work at a couple years ago. She looked incredibly sad and worried every time I saw her, which wasn’t often. She left her room only when she was picked up to go to set. She is so tiny in person. He came to the restaurant a couple times for breakfast with their son and made almost no impression on me. He didn’t give off any weird vibes, and I only knew who he was because it was part of my job. So it’s not surprising he was able to hide his behaviour for so long. He’s very bland in person (I say with my limited experience).
    I feel awful for her, that this is why she looked so miserable.

  13. tealily says:

    I’ve always had such a huge fondness for her, since the Addams Family movie. She’s my age and I feel like we grew up together. Hope everything goes well for her and her child, getting through this mess.

  14. Ariel says:

    I read that part of his defense is that she told the cops when she called them (in Dec 2019?) that that night was the first time he attacked her. (as abuse victims almost always protect their abusers) and he is using that statement to “prove” she lacks credibility.
    All at the same time- “typical” of an abuser, so it is not surprising and yet i am still shocked by the mind blowing arrogance and cruelty.

  15. Ameara says:

    I hope he burns in hell! Thank God they manage de to get away for him. My heart breaks for them.

  16. emu says:

    Ugh. wow. So chilling. Her description of the beginning of lockdown – being with an abusive person who knew that she wanted out. So glad that she did get out and hopefully will continue to be safe.

  17. Lunasf17 says:

    Wow this is so awful! I’ve always liked her. Men need to go to fing therapy and work on themselves instead of ruining the lives of women around them. I want to see this jerk end up in jail and Christina and Freddie and the dog free and happy!

  18. Winechampion says:

    Piece of SHIT. Every photo of them together, he has this smug/pissed off look on his face. Resentful of her success and attention, no doubt. Lock him up.

  19. Miasys says:

    Really admire & applaud her bravery in coming forward with this. DV does a number on you in every way imaginable and there is still so much stigma attached to it. I hope that she is able to stay safe and has the legal and physical protections in place to keep him far away from her. That he is not allowed visits with their son or near the family pet is telling. Hoping she gets privacy, respect and time to heal.

  20. Natasha says:

    I read in another article that Christina’s lawyer is also trying to block her husband from releasing embarrassing videos he has of her. I believe she was abused but depending on those videos, this might not be so clean-cut as Christina’s team is making it out to be. This is very messy.

  21. Samanthalous says:

    He has photos, texts and I’m sure video of her when she is drunk and people around her are laughing. It’s so disgusting I saw some photos and I’m sure she was blacked out.