The Short Version

This blog was created to be a safe space for members of the derby world to share their experiences of rape, assault, harassment and non-sexual harassment and bullying within the community. You can reach us at info@ithappensinderby.com.

The Long Version

We realize that many members of the derby community fear that they will not be believed if they share their stories of being raped, assaulted, harassed, or bullied by other members of the community. When stories aren’t shared, everyone believes that they are alone.

You are not alone.

Those of us who started this blog have experienced rape, assault, harassment, and bullying within the derby community, and we will share our stories along with the rest of you. Some of us have heard from other members of the community who have experienced those things but have only in the last few days begun to believe that their stories could be told. We know there are countless stories that we haven’t heard, that have never been told, that you carry with you every day.

We believe that there is strength in community; in seeing that others have had similar experiences to you; in reading about what others have overcome. We believe that as long as we tell ourselves the lie that the derby community is a safe space while ignoring the predators who are in it with us, we will never be able to do the work necessary to create real safety. We believe that whatever harassment you have experienced, however small it may seem to you, is real and painful and important. We believe that telling painful stories, even anonymously or only to a few people, can make them easier to carry.

We recognize that sexual assault and harassment are far from the only problems in derby. While we think that these issues cover a broad range of topics – including sexism, homophobia, and transphobia – many other forms of discrimination, such as racism and ableism based on both mental and physical differences are alive and well in our community. If you need a place to tell those stories, we are here to listen to your experiences and amplify your voices. However, we want to be honest about the identities we are bringing to this project: we identify, in varying combinations, as survivors of sexual violence, members of the queer community, neurodivergent, and people with mental illnesses. We are also all white, cisgender, and able-bodied. While we stand in solidarity with those who are fighting racism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination in derby, we realize that we are not the people who should be leading those fights.

Our Story

If you go back far enough, the idea for this site began in August 2013, when one of us was raped by another roller derby official.

It began in July 2014, when, though she was not yet ready to tell her story, she filed a grievance with the WFTDA against him for multiple other instances of harassment toward both skaters and officials.

It began in May 2015, when she publicly told her story for the first time.

It began sometime in the two years since then, during which, despite bullying and ostracism, she has told her story again and again, whether people were willing to listen or not.

It began in September 2015, when some of us realized that our league was not a safe space for her or for other survivors of sexual violence and began fighting to change that fact.

It began in April 2017, when, after nearly a year of retirement, one of us heard that people she’d never even met had turned the man who’d raped her away from their events and – hoping that telling her story had made some sort of difference, however small – decided to return to roller derby.

It began on May 14, 2017, when an incident of sexual harassment at an MRDA tournament sparked discussion in many parts of the derby world and some of us decided we needed to talk – loudly and continuously and without fear – until we saw change.

It began during the days that followed, when we saw more and more conversations, both public and private, about how to create and maintain safe spaces within roller derby.

It began when we tried and failed (so far – we’re still working on it) to come up with a way to share information on sexual predators within roller derby among leagues without putting ourselves at significant legal risk.

It began when some of us were called pussies and threatened with physical violence for saying that we were made uncomfortable by the sexualized derby name of a male referee that we believe contributes to rape culture.

It began when we asked ourselves whether there might be power in giving people a place to be heard and to see that they are not alone, and whether that power might lead to change.

We see you. We support you. We believe you.

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