Revealed texts in the Elizabeth Holmes trial show tensions between the Theranos founder and her ex and former COO, whom Holmes testifies was abusive

Revealed texts in the Elizabeth Holmes trial show tensions between the Theranos founder and her ex and former COO, whom Holmes testifies was abusive
Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images (Holmes). Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Balwani).
  • Elizabeth Holmes has said Ramesh Balwani, her ex and Theranos' former president and COO, abused her.
  • Text evidence in Holmes' fraud trial shows proclamations of love but also tensions between the two.

Another batch of texts between Elizabeth Holmes and her ex-boyfriend has been submitted as evidence in her criminal fraud trial, offering a window into their past romantic relationship as the Theranos founder testifies he abused her.

Holmes testified earlier this week that Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, Theranos' former president and COO, emotionally and sexually abused her during their relationship.

Holmes has said Balwani was the force behind a series of behavioral guidelines and instructions for managing people and time for her to follow; both of these documents were also submitted into evidence this week.

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Holmes' attorneys have indicated they may argue she wasn't acting of her own will — but rather was following Balwani's instructions — at the time the government alleges she acted to defraud investors, doctors, and patients. (Balwani also was charged with fraud; his trial is scheduled to begin in January).

Here are some key texts from the latest round of messages:


  • "When your family is here I feel lonely bcz u spend a total of 10 seconds with me a day," Balwani messaged Holmes in November 2013. "I tried so hard to engage you. You had no interest," Holmes said later that day. "Don't try to engage with me next time. Seems Like it won't work," Balwani responded.
  • "My new life as of this night and forever more: total confidence in myself best business person of the year, focus, details excellent, don't give what anyone thinks, engage employees in meetings by stories and making it about them (ie prepare well)," Holmes texted Balwani in 2014. She then texts "no response?" 10 minutes later. "Awesome. U r listening and paying attention," Balwani replied.
  • "I'm sorry I wasn't stronger for you this morning. That is my responsibility and my role. I will never let that happen again," Holmes said in a February 2015 message. "I am strong enough for me and u and then some. I don't need u to be strong for me," Balwani replied. Holmes said in response, "I have the privilege of being able to calm you as a mother energy" and later on, "my job is to love you when you're stressed."
  • "You are speaking with everyone in your giddy voice - excessive use of 'awesome,'" Balwani told Holmes in April 2015. "Thank you thank you," Holmes sent back.
  • "I have molded you," Balwani said in May 2015.
  • "U r rambling now. Let's stay focused," Balwani said in June 2015.
  • "I am sorry for last night. I will get better," Balwani texted Holmes in August 2015. "I love you," Holmes responded. "Ok. Entire flight was feeling really bad and sad for last night. I am really sorry," Balwani replied, followed by a second text, "I need to change my life and I will."

"I think this is weak tea for building a case of emotional abuse that would make someone not responsible for their behavior," forensic psychiatrist Dr. Ziv Cohen told Insider. "You would need to see much stronger evidence of emotional abuse to be confident that it was present. And if it was present, you'd need further really specific examples to show how it prevented a person from following the requirements of the law."

Having Holmes testify is a "clever" defense strategy because she's a charismatic, persuasive communicator but also because her allegations against Balwani are "pushing a lot of buttons in us, the viewers who care about issues like intimate partner violence and abuse of women," Cohen says.

"It could be a very good distraction for the jury to move their eye from looking at fraudulent behavior, looking at misleading statements, looking at all the evidence the government has presented and making it more of a trial about whether or not she had an abusive relationship with Sunny Balwani," he added.

You can find all of the texts here.