"I will share how power, greed, narcissism, and a girl's quest to feel loved, powerful, important and have a sense of belonging led her down a dangerous path."
Crystal Hefner has been more vocal of late about her experience in the Playboy Mansion and ultimately as the wife of Hugh Hefner until his death in September 2017. Now, though, she's looking to tell her whole story in an upcoming memoir.
The model made the announcement via Instagram, where she acknowledged that she knows her story is complicated -- and even at times contradictory -- but that doesn't make it any less her truth or her story.
At 35 years old now, Crystal notes that at the time of his death, Hugh Hefner and his world had been her life for just over a decade (half of it spent married). That was a third of her life at the time, and for the entirety of her adulthood.
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"I was with him through wild times, calm times, and all the times in between up until the day he passed away," she wrote. "That day was very hard. I have lost a lot of people in my life and death is a difficult topic for me."
Calling herself an introvert, Crystal said that's why she stayed mostly quiet and "more private over the years." But as the "Girls Next Door" and other Playboy-affiliated women have come forward with their stories, Crystal has begun to open up.
Crystal became Hefner's "number one girlfriend" and ultimately his wife after things broke off between him and the three original stars of the "Girls" reality show, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson. Crystal was even part of the cast in the final season of the show.
She recently confirmed a claim in the "Secrets of Playboy" docuseries by Holly that Hef took pictures with a disposable camera of the women nude or engaged in sex acts that he would then show them -- a reason Holly said she was hesitant to leave.
After that episode aired, Crystal tweeted out to Holly that she'd actually found thousands of photos like the ones Holly described in the mansion, and that she'd "ripped them up and destroyed every single one of them for you and the countless other women in them."
She describes her experience in the Playboy Mansion as "in some ways a sanctuary," while saying that "in other ways [she] was exploited like never before." It was after this statement that she acknowledged that her story was both "complicated and conflicting."
"I think the best way to tell it is to be 100 percent honest and transparent so my lessons can hopefully help you too," she added. "I will tell you about my life and how my upbringing and years leading up to the Halloween party where I met Hef was the perfect storm that whisked me through those gates."
Springboarding off of that fateful night, Crystal said that one of her therapists worded her decade behind the gates with a phrase worded with a bit of a sinister tone. "It’s like you went trick or treating at a house and then wasn’t let back out for ten years," she was told, agreeing that the experience was kind of like that.
"I’m ready to tell my story. I’m ready to tell you what it was really like," she wrote. "How my personal path lead me to Hef’s 'shangri la' and what I wish every woman would know."
She even came up with the perfect tagline for the book, writing, "I will share how power, greed, narcissism, and a girls quest to feel loved, powerful, important and have a sense of belonging led her down a dangerous path."
No one watching the show would have known that there was anything amiss behind the gates of the Playboy mansion, with Crystal or the original trio or any of the other women who found themselves a part of Hef's inner circle. The show was a breakout sensation, making stars of its cast and painting Hef as an eccentric but lovable grandfatherly figure.
Even in the wake of these latest stories, the late Hef has his supporters, with many of them signing off on a letter denying the claims in "Secrets of Playboy." In a letter obtained by PEOPLE signed by "hundreds of former Playboy Bunnies, Playmates, ex-girlfriends and employees," his defenders call the allegations presented in the 10-part docuseries "unfounded."
"We sign our names to support Hugh M. Hefner. From all we know of Hef, he was a person of upstanding character, exceptional kindness, and dedication to free thought," reads the letter. "He demonstrated a commitment to living an honest life beyond everything else. Our time within Hugh Hefner's Playboy and the organization's subsidiaries remains a period all of us are fond of. I proudly sign this letter in recognition of Hugh Hefner's character amid unfounded allegations in the A&E show."
She acknowledged that she's still healing from everything she went through, but nevertheless feels ready to share her story. It may be that telling the story will help in that process, as well as perhaps finding what she described as "the last piece of the puzzle yet to be placed."
In the wake of the new docuseries, Playboy issued a lengthy statement to E! saying that the company today "is not Hugh Hefner's Playboy."
"We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences," said the company. "As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security, and accountability are paramount. The most important thing we can do right now is actively listen and learn from their experiences."
The statement further noted that more than 80 percent of its current workforce is female, adding that the company "will never be afraid to confront the parts of our legacy as a company that do not reflect our values today."
"We are committed to our ongoing evolution as a company and to driving positive change for our communities," the statement concluded.
Crystal said that through her time in the Playboy Mansion, she "longed for freedom from what I found myself in," but instead experienced "the grueling opposite for ten years." Now, though, five years after Hef's passing, Crystal says she's "finally found it."
As part of her process of rediscovery, Crystal also recently shared that she'd been changing her social media image, after changing her very self, as well. She'd scrubbed her social media of NSFW content and then she had "everything fake" removed from her body.
"I was living for other people before, to make others happy, suffering internally in the process," she said of the content she used to post, trying to appeal to and appease fans who'd come to expect a certain persona due to her past experiences.
After initially losing thousands of followers by the day, Crystal said she saw her supporters rebound. "Now my women followers are giving the men followers a run for their money. Now I truly feel I have an army of supporters that care and see an actual soul behind the lens. For that I thank you."