Ashley Graham is opening up about being in an abusive relationship in her twenties.
The 31-year-old model and body positive advocate sat down with Gwyneth Paltrow for an interview on the Oscar-winner’s “Goop” podcast.
Paltrow was moved to tears as Graham revealed she had been in an abusive relationship prior to meeting her husband, Justin Ervin, that drastically impacted her approach to relationships.
According to Graham, she had been with a “horrible” guy for two years during her early twenties that was “mentally, physically, and emotionally abusive.” The model admits that she initially hid her relationship from family and friends for a year, and stayed in the unhealthy situation.
“It was two years of agony,” she revealed. “I didn’t know my worth.”
Graham, who has been married to Ervin for eight years, says after she broke up with her abusive ex she did some serious soul-searching to ensure she would never put herself in an abusive relationship again.
“And in that a-ha moment, I was like, my problem is I keep giving it up too soon, I keep having sex too soon with these guys,” Graham told Paltrow. “I grew up very Christian…and in that I realized I’m giving up my power to each of these guys and I’m letting them control me, not constantly control me in every action, but they have a certain control over me.”
Graham decided at the age of twenty-one to abstain from sex until marriage, and believes that her decision helped her to avoid wasting time with the wrong men.
It was shortly after her revelation that Graham’s mother convinced her to return to church and her Christian roots.
“I had this little issue with some tequila and I showed up at my agency a little drunk. My agent told me that if I didn’t clean up I was going to be kicked out,” she recalled. “My mom said ‘rehab or church,’ and I was like, ‘I’m not an alcoholic’ so I’ll just go to church!”
After rejoining the church, Graham met her now husband on an elevator. Ervin reached out to the model on Facebook, and the two went on a coffee date.
“The thing that sucked was he didn’t pay for the coffee. So I was like, ‘Great, I’ve got another cheap guy!” Graham laughed.
The model erased his number and wrote Ervin off until the two ran into each other a month later at church.
Ervin offered to take her out again, and pay for her but revealed he had been burned in the past.
“He said, ‘I have been taken advantage of and I have had women use me for a steak dinner, I don’t want that, I’m looking for a wife,'” she explained. “‘I’m here to be serious.'”
After their second ‘first date’ the pair became “inseparable” and both agreed to wait until marriage to have sex.
“He and I did not break my rule- and his rule as well,” Graham said. “We didn’t go into this as virgins but this was a pact that we had made separately and when we met – boom. We were both going into this without having sex.”