‘House of Hammer’: Armie Hammer’s aunt aims to be a voice for survivors, in this docu-series 

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In this interview, Casey Hammer, the estranged aunt of Hollywood actor Armie Hammer — who is one of the consultants on the controversial documentary series — details her trauma and how she hopes to support survivors

In this interview, Casey Hammer, the estranged aunt of Hollywood actor Armie Hammer — who is one of the consultants on the controversial documentary series — details her trauma and how she hopes to support survivors

In 2021, an Instagram account called House of Effie started posting screenshots of texts between herself and those submitted by ex-girlfriends of Hollywood actor Armie Hammer. Armie, known for his work in successful films like The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name, quickly went from an up-and-coming golden boy to an outcast. The revelations were shocking; messages that began as flirtatious, turned kinky and then deeply disturbing, with Armie describing rape fantasies and wanting to eat the women. Yes, like a cannibal. 

Beyond the allegations, Armie’s own online behaviour made it hard to look away from the drama. From a video of him showing off his hotel room, which brazenly overlooked a woman perched on all fours and clad in black lingerie, to his rampant drug use and bondage memes, clearly something was wrong. In a post #MeToo era, this was enough for the 36-year-old star to be dropped by film producers and his agency. 

As the story spiralled deeper into darkness, the internet’s pop culture enthusiasts became determined to find out the full picture. The answer? Armie comes from a long line of sickeningly wealthy and scarily powerful men who have all been physically, emotionally and sexually abusive… and have gotten away with it. Trapped in this house of horrors was a woman, who had reached her breaking point. That woman was Casey Hammer, Armie’s estranged aunt. 

When news about Armie first broke, Casey wasn’t surprised. Following the publication of her 2015 book Surviving My Birthright, which details her story, Casey has lived a quiet life. But when Talos, the production company behind the new docu-series House of Hammer, approached her, she saw it as an opportunity to help other survivors. 

As a consultant on the show,  Casey exposes the generational trauma and rampant abuse that has become synonymous with the Hammer name, going as far back as Armie’s great-grandfather, Armand Hammer. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, Casey discusses her journey, healing, and how to support survivors. 

Excerpts from an interview:

Oftentimes, when women are in abusive relationships, people ask them why they don’t just leave. You grew up thinking that abuse was normal. What made you realise it was time to leave? 

Casey: So in my 30s, I was filming B-roll footage once… they were doing a spot called “Victim No More,” and I was to be fake-attacked in a parking lot. I want[ed] to be an actor, this is fabulous right? I’m in the middle of it, and all of a sudden, when the guy had my arms above my head, it was so familiar and ingrained in me, that I just thought I was going to die. That was the aha moment I had. I remember having all these abusive memories flooding me, situations where I was in that position of not being able to breathe, being suffocated or choked. I remember recounting with my mother, who I was hoping would say no, you know none of that happened. But the response was that she knew that these things were happening. It’s that whole feeling; just because people give birth to you and pretend to love you, it doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want to you. 

The documentary addresses the fact that when the revelations about Armie first emerged, many thought it was funny because it was so absurd. But once House of Effie began sharing all the survivors’ stories, it became clear that something was wrong, which ultimately led to his “downfall.” In a world where rich and powerful men often aren’t held accountable, was this the outcome that you hoped for? 

Casey: When I saw the headlines, I thought oh, here we go! Another Hammer man and the headlines… They were making fun of the cannibalism and what’s next for Armie. Until someone actually chooses to atone for their sins, or admit that they even have a problem, they’re never going to change. But that starts with accountability – admitting what happened – and trying to make good with these victims.

Actor Armie Hammer
| Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello

I’ll always be grateful [to Talos]. They have shined a light on my family, and whether anybody admits to anything or anybody changes or gets well, it doesn’t matter. The fact is that there’s a light now.

Tell me about the role that social media has played in all of this?

Casey:  I remember one of my co-workers told me about someone called The Zen Blonde, blowing me up on TikTok. I got on and saw her live-reading my book. It was like being on a roller-coaster where you’re taking the death drop and not knowing what’s gonna happen. But you just really have to believe everything’s going to work its way out. 

And then I saw people caring. But there are also the haters. It’s scary, because a person like me, I can touch a lot of people and get wonderful comments… and then there’s one or two others that are just hateful and cruel. Coming from a very abusive family, where you strive to be perfect, you see those comments and then you go right into self-hatred and self-sabotage again. You just need to learn how to deal with it and to function, and to know that everything outside is not as important as what’s inside, and how you feel about yourself.

People watching this docu-series could think that their stories of abuse and trauma might not be that bad, compared to what you went through. How would you respond to them?

Casey: Recently, a co-worker said to me, “You know, Casey, I read your story, and mine isn’t as bad, but–”. Whenever there’s a but, their story is just as important. It’s the fact that if you feel like you’ve been abused, you have those moments when you watch House of Hammer, and you see yourself in it.

It’s a process, and you need to get help. You can’t do it alone, and I think that’s kind of why it’s important that I’m coming forward, cause I can show you that, even being 61 years old and somewhat put together on the outside, I’m still a mess inside. You’re not broken, and you have a community. You have someone that can listen and hear you; I think that’s what is most important.

House of Hammer is currently streaming on discovery+

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