White nationalist Richard Spencer accused of physically abusing wife throughout their marriage

White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks at the University of Florida in 2017. His wife has accused him of physically abusing her throughout their eight-year marriage.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
Washington Post

White nationalist Richard Spencer’s wife, Nina Koupriianova, accused him of physically, emotionally and verbally abusing her over the course of their eight-year marriage, according to documents and exhibits filed in court as part of their divorce proceedings.

Koupriianova said the abuse, which she documented in the form of transcribed conversations, emails, photographs, and even a chat with the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, continued throughout the course of their eight-year marriage and included incidents that occurred while she was pregnant.

“Incidents of physical abuse include being hit, being grabbed, being dragged around by her hair, being held down in a manner causing bruising, and being prevented from calling for help,” Koupriianova alleged in a court brief filed in the case in Flathead County, Mont., saying she had been “reluctant to call police or seek an order of protection for fear of further reprisal” by Spencer. “Much of the abuse has occurred in the presence of the parties’ children.”


Spencer is perhaps the most prominent white nationalist from the crop of racially motivated extremists who emerged into public view during the 2016 election and events such as the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. Often quick to return a reporter’s phone call or email, Spencer has been readily covered by the media as the public face of the loose collection of political ideologies revolving around racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and racial purity that make up the so-called alt-right.

Koupriianova’s claims, which were first reported by Buzzfeed, paint a different portrait of Spencer.

The couple were married in 2010; the first instance of abuse occurred in 2011 when he dragged her “out of bed by my arms, legs, and hair, dragged me down the stairs, and threw me onto the couch,” resulting in bruising, according to an exhibit listing all the incidents of abuse that she filed with the court.

In 2012, he smashed her head into the floor with her down on the ground, she wrote. In 2014, when she was four months pregnant with their first child, he “attacked” her by getting on top of her and holding her neck and jaw, she wrote in the exhibit.

“In the next few days, upon arriving to Canada, my mother noticed bruises on my jaw, chest, and leg,” Koupriianova wrote. Photos she said were from the incident are attached in the court filing, though the images as they were distributed to reporters by the court, were of low quality and hard to make out. She also included a July 2014 email exchange with Spencer that she said occurred after the incident.

“To be perfectly honest, I am not ready to converse with you after what you’ve done. My jaw is bruised,” she wrote.


“I understand,” Spencer wrote back, according to the exhibit. “I’m sorry, and I feel terrible.”

“He often went into ‘Mr. Hyde,’ mode in the evenings and had issues with handling physical intimacy, including hugs,” Koupriianova wrote of Spencer.

Spencer and Koupriianova have two young children together.

Of the allegations made by Koupriianova, Spencer said in an affidavit that “I dispute many of her assertions.”

“More importantly, none of the allegations of ‘abuse’ have anything to do with my children,” he wrote. “My interactions with my children have only been healthy…. Petitioner’s behaviors reveal that she simply wants to ‘score points.’ ”

Eric Mills and Trevor Carlson, who are listed in recent court filings as Spencer’s lawyers in the martial dispute, did not respond to a request for comment. Spencer did not answer emails sent to him.

Koupriianova and Spencer have been separated since at least November 2016; according to the documents filed in court, they have been living separately since July 2017.


In 2017, with Koupriianova nine months pregnant with their second child, Spencer flew to visit “without prior warning,” entering her residence and attempting to punch her in the face, according to the court exhibit. She was scheduled for a C-section two days later.

In February of this year, Spencer grabbed, pulled and held her by the hair in a parking lot then attempted to attack her before he “shoved his mother into the wall as she attempted to prevent him from attacking me further,” according to Koupriianova. Their 3-year-old daughter was watching in the doorway, Koupriianova said.

“I attempted to record this incident with my smartphone, which was sitting on the dining table, for my own protection,” she wrote. “At this point, both Mr. [Spencer] and his mother confiscated the phone, so I could not call the police. They proceeded to force me to erase the recording, took our daughter ... with them.”

She also wrote of long-standing attempts to bully, insult and demean her — “from adult temper tantrums to get his own way to violent rages.” She included numerous transcripts of smartphone recordings to bolster these claims.

In one, after their split, Spencer tries to get her to answer the question of whether she thinks her parents will attend her funeral. In others, he tells her she has “like, no soul,” and that she’s “an ugly, spiteful, just horrible person.”

“You always talk about, ‘I want to jump off the bridge.’ What are you waiting for?” he asks.


In another transcript, he accuses her of being a “leech,” and seems to threaten that her job working for his mother “might not last.”

In addition to the chat with the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, the exhibits Koupriianova submitted included a doctor’s letter from a women’s health clinic in Whitefish, Mont., that noted that Koupriianova “expressed concern for her safety and well-being,” on several occasions.

One of Spencer’s favorite statements was, “The only language women understand is violence,” Koupriianova wrote.

Koupriianova, through her lawyer, declined to comment on Tuesday.

Spencer told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he was “not an abusive person” and that his wife was “never in a dangerous situation.”

In the affidavit, he said that Koupriianova was jeopardizing his relationship with his children.

She “has made the decision to prevent me from having a relationship with my children without any justification,” Spencer said. “Our marital relationship is clearly strained, resulting in this pending divorce. My relationship with my children, on the other hand, has been entirely joyful and fulfilling.”


In another court document, Koupriianova also alleges that Spencer “has noticeably increased his alcohol consumption in recent years, which contributes to his aggressive and erratic behavior and reduces his impulse control.”

Spencer said he drank alcohol occasionally but said he did not have any chemical dependency issues.

Lawyers for both Spencer and Koupriianova attempted to seal the filings, but a judge disagreed with their motions.