Warning: This post contains shit that might make you uncomfortable. Read at your own risk.
I don’t usually write about anything that’s happening in the BJJ community, because I want this blog to be about my personal journey, and there are plenty of other places to read about the latest BJJ news, but I’ve decided to share some of my feelings about the recent string of accusations and arrests of instructors for sexual misconduct and abuse, because in a way, it does relate to my personal experience. Someone once said I was brutally honest on this blog, but I actually hold a lot back, and one big thing I’ve never shared is that a few months ago, I was sexually groped during BJJ class.
I’m not going to talk about the specifics of what happened to me, because I can’t even stand thinking about it, but I will say that the incident almost ended my Jiu-Jitsu journey entirely. As someone who has been sexually violated in my past, one of the reasons I wanted to train BJJ in the first place was to feel empowered against such a thing, so to actually have something like that happen to me during my training was very traumatizing. It has affected me more deeply than I ever thought it would, and continuing to train after it happened was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It actually still is, because I haven’t completely gotten over it yet.
The person who groped me hadn’t been training with us for very long, and the groping occurred the very first time I rolled with him. I informed my instructors about what he did, and he no longer trains at LBJJC, but since the day it happened, I haven’t been able to look at Jiu-Jitsu the same way. It’s as though everything positive I’ve ever gained from BJJ has been overshadowed by this one negative experience.
Now with all of the accusations and arrests on sexual charges in the BJJ world, along with my own experience, sometimes I start to wonder if I can continue to advocate Jiu-Jitsu as a positive thing for women and girls in general, and myself in particular. It’s hard to not let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch, and even though I don’t actually believe anything like that will ever happen to me again personally, I never really thought it would happen in the first place, but I was wrong. I just try to remind myself that through the years I’ve rolled with hundreds of men, and only one of them did this to me.
My husband said he thinks the news of arrests is actually a good thing, because it means that people are coming forward and stopping it, and I don’t know if it happens more in Jiu-Jitsu than in other places, or if we just hear about it more because BJJ is a tight-knit community. To be completely honest, not only did I not want anyone to know about me being groped, I didn’t even want to tell my teachers, but I did tell, because I didn’t want the groper to do it to anyone else. I was afraid people would think I was making it up, or that I misinterpreted what happened, or I was over-exaggerating, but I’ve been grappling for six years, I know exactly what happened that day, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it was completely inappropriate. I didn’t want to portray BJJ in any kind of negative light, but to not admit that it happened wouldn’t solve anything.
Even though this is the first time I’ve written about the incident, being a blogger actually helped me deal with it, because since I didn’t want the people I train with to know about what happened, but I needed to talk to someone who could understand, I contacted a fellow female Jiu-Jitsu blogger for support. We’ve never met face-to-face, but Savage Kitsune was there for me when I needed her, and I am eternally grateful, which is one of the greatest things about a part of the online BJJ community.
I’m still not entirely sure that my relationship with Jiu-Jitsu is going to survive this trauma, I don’t know if it will ever be the same. I’ve made it through some difficult struggles along my path, but this one is by far the hardest, and while I’m glad that I spoke up about it, I just wish I didn’t have to. I tried to pretend it didn’t happen, I tried to forget about it, but it’s now a part of my story, and I’m hoping that writing about it will help me to accept it, then let it go and move on, because I don’t want to let the creep take anything else from me.
“We’re not gonna take it! No, we ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it anymore!” -Twisted Sister