Monday, May 22, 2017

Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and roller derby.

In August 2013 I was raped by a roller derby referee.  It took me two years to "come out" about it.  The responses since that time have been mixed.  Many people offered words and gestures of support.  Other folks spread rumors about me, saying that I was lying about being raped.  I heard the following sentiments in the days, months, and years after I started speaking up about being raped:

  • "But he never acted that way around me."
  • "But he has a girlfriend!"
  • "She flirted with him.  She was asking for it."
  • "She had sex with him after the night she said he raped her.  So it couldn't have been rape."
  • "She's a jealous and vengeful ex-girlfriend."
  • "It didn't happen.  She's not attractive enough."
Recently, a local men's league, Mass Maelstrom, escorted a skater from the premises of a tournament after he was heard saying, upon accidentally touching butts with a female skater, "There will be time for that later" and then "I feel bad hitting a girl."  

A controversy ensued.  The skater in question defended himself by stating he hadn't made the comments--someone else had.  Other people maintained that while his words were sexist, they did not rise to the level of sexual harassment.  A lot of people said some very nasty things.  A lot of people said some very supportive things.  And for the first time in a long time, the issue of sexual misconduct in roller derby arose.

I have named my rapist on social media several times.  I have offered to provide details to anyone willing to ask.  No one asked.  I write this post so that all of you interested are aware of what happened, when, and which organizations were involved.  I write this post so that if you are a survivor of sexual assault or harassment in our community, you know you are not alone.  I write this post so that if you need to, you can reach out to me.  I will listen.  I will believe you. 

August 2013.

I was raped. After some flirty texts and several shots of tequila, I willingly accompanied my rapist to his car in the parking lot, where we proceeded to make out.  What started as sex turned into the rape the moment I said, "No, stop," and he did not.  In fact, his exact words were: "I am going to make this work!"

During the rape, the condom broke.  He later insinuated it was my fault because I had been the one to provide the condom.  Because heaven forbid a man take responsibility for providing contraception.  

Over the Next Year.

I don't remember the exact time frame I did it, but I wrote to WFTDA's Ref Cert to express my concerns about my rapist, who I shall hereafter refer to as "SNB."  He is currently a referee with Bay State Roller Derby, located in Massachusetts. [Ed Note, I've learned that SNB is no longer affiliated with BSB, as of a week or two ago.]  An individual from the certification panel responded and kindly suggested I file a grievance against my rapist with WFTDA.  It's important to note that at his point, I had not disclosed the rape.  Instead, I had disclosed a pattern of sexual harassment by SNB against several people, myself included.  

I researched how to file a grievance and was chagrined to discovered I was unable to avail myself of this option.  Indeed, I was an unaffiliated referee at the time who had no ties to WFTDA (I was not certified then, nor am I now).  His league was not a member league.  I had no "official" recourse available.

I stayed away from SNB, but kept my ears open regarding his behavior.  

I decided to do things the "right" way and through the  "proper" channels.  The first thing I did was write a letter to SNB to express my dissatisfaction with his overtly sexual and demeaning comments, and also to express my discomfort working with him.  His response, verbatim: "I say crude things.  That's just who I am."  And to think a simple acknowledgement of his behavior could have prevented what was to come.

I wrote to his league's liaison.  (At the time he was affiliated with Mass Attack Roller Derby.  I have not had contact with that league in more than three years and have no idea what their current policies are.)  To say that the situation was mishandled is a gross understatement.  I was peppered with questions that didn't seem to relate to anything.  I was told the league would "take action," but the people I spoke to refused to tell me what "action" was being taken or what was done to prevent sexual harassment in the future.

SNB wrote me an e-mail accusing me of being vengeful and accusing me of being "a boatload of no fun with a blood clam."  Apparently, taking issue with his behavior and language was a result of being on my period.  Who knew?!

July 2014.

While hanging out with some roller derby friends, SNB contacted me via Facebook message.  He said he was sorry and asked me to confirm receipt of his message.  When I confirmed receipt, he accused me of spreading rumors about his sex life.  He told me he wanted to speak to me about it "face to face."  When I declined, he told me he would come to the tournament I was working the next weekend and force me to speak with him.  He threatened to file a grievance against me with the WFTDA if I refused an in-person discussion with him.

I immediately sent the conversation to the THR of the tournament, who swiftly had SNB banned from the tournament. (The amount of criticism she received for doing this was endless, she told me.)  He was sent an e-mail explaining the situation; his photo was passed around to the security staff at the tournament, who were directed to escort him from the venue should he appear.

That same weekend, SNB's league became a member league.  I provided documentation from several sources that outlined the following behaviors:

  • After serving as Head Referee on a crew with six other women, SNB posted on Facebook that he had "achievement unlocked"by heading up a crew of six women "like a pimp."  I was one of those women.
  • During a doubleheader for which he was the Head Referee for both games, he approached a group of visiting skaters, stretching.  He told that if he "hadn't been to the strip club the night before [he'd] have dollar bills to stick in [their] shorts."
  • During an all-night derby event, he had lifted a female skater off her feet, slung her over his shoulder, and slapped her bottom with an open hand.
  • While purportedly trying to "see her tattoo" better, he slid his hand up a skater's shorts onto her upper thigh.
  • During gear checks (remember those?) when a female skater told him he had nice calves, he told her that she had a "nice ass."
  • After I contacted his league, he asked no less than three other female officials whether they had "told on" him to his league.
Bear in mind that WFTDA had asked to to find people to make statements and to come forward.  Rather than investigating my accusations, the onus was put upon me to beg people to submit statements about being harassed.  Not. A. Single. Skater. came forward.  They were too afraid of retribution due to the perceived power differential between skaters and referees.  The only reason documentation was available was because SNB had been foolish enough to do or say these things in front of other officials or via e-mail or Facebook.

September 2014.

A dozen officials signed onto a letter that was circulated to leagues in the region stating that we would not work with SNB.  It said, in pertinent part: "We hope that by standing up for our own safety and making it clear that we prioritize safety within the community, we can make others understand the importance of this issue for us and others.  We hope that you will respect this decision and, if you are a part of a league who has already made a decision not to staff this individual, we are grateful."

We asked certified officials to sign onto this letter, thinking it would have more teeth if they did.  Not a single one chose to do so.  (We only asked those we had relatively close personal relationships with.)

Later that month, SNB was sanctioned by WFTDA in the following ways:

  • He was required to take an online quiz regarding sexual harassment and give a "presentation" to his league regarding why his statements on social media were "inappropriate."
  • He was banned from participating in WFTDA events at which I was present; it was not stated who bore the burden of determining who would attend which event.
  • He was directed to write me an apology letter.
  • He was put on probation for 1 year.
  • He was barred from applying for certification for 2 years.
November 2014.  

As folks became aware of the WFTDA sanctions, were were asked whether we had changed our opinions.  After all, WFTDA had meted out punishment, and that was enough, right?  So we wrote a second letter:

"You may have heard that the WFTDA Compliance Panel has made a decision on the grievance filed against SNB.  You may also have heard that we are cautiously optimistic about WFtDA's stance on sexual harassment and the decision they have made.  Several individuals who signed the previous letter have been asked whether they will now rescind their refusal to work with SNB.  This letter is to inform you that our position remains the same."

Several referees from the league I would later join suggested that I was a vengeful ex-girlfriend who could not be believed.

May 2015.

I finally "came out" via blog post that I had been raped.  

Thereafter, one referee began began posting articles regarding false rape accusations on Facebook, lamenting that those who stood in solidarity with accused rapists were condemned for their association--it was so unfair!  Another continued to tell people I was lying.  They are both women.  They both continue to referee in roller derby in New England.  So does SNB.

September 2015 (ish).

A few leagues chose not to staff SNB, Boston Roller Derby (then Boston Derby Dames) among them.  However, around the time SNB's WFTDA probation ended, TesteRon Jeremy and Boston's crew had a meeting during which SNB was discussed.  Since his probation was complete, it was time to staff him again!  When a woman I did not know (but who is now a dear friend) protested, she was told that I was his ex (which is both untrue and irrelevant) and that "he's always been nice to me."  Whether other crews had similar discussions, I will never know.

I do know that Mass Maelstrom decided to "reinstate" him once more after his probation ended.  When I voiced concern over this new development--and about the fact that I was not told of this development--I was summarily ignored.  When I contacted the league after not having gotten a reply for two months, I was told by the then-Vice President (No Big Deal) that if I continued to contact anyone with Maelstrom about my concerns, he would file a grievance against me with WFTDA, as "only malice" could be assumed from any continuing communication.  Because the threat was the same as the one SNB had made, a panic attack was triggered.  Since then, no one from Maelstrom has contacted me.  The league only recently barred him from their events.

January 2016.

Because TJ had left BRD and because there were a slew of new "woke" officials, I decided to affiliate with Boston.  I had moved there, hadn't I?  (I'm back in central CT now.)  But two referees who supported SNB were still with the league.  I made sure to only go to scrimmage on days I knew they would not be there.  I became paranoid that skaters knew who I was and talked about me behind my back.  Because some of the crew stridently supported SNB, I was afraid the skaters did, too.

June 2016.

After trying to stick it out, I retired.  I realized I'd only been staying in roller derby out of spite.  I didn't want to let "them" win.  I didn't want to show that they had beaten me down.  But they had.  Despite amazing support from several leagues and a bunch of fantastic people, I was tired.  I was tired of having to vigilantly avoid SNB and those who worked with him.  I was tired of always being on edge, fearing I would have to defend myself at every roller derby event I attended.  I was paranoid that people who didn't even know me would meet me and think to themselves, "Oh, THAT's the referee who was raped," or, worse yet, "Oh, THAT's the referee who made up those horrific accusations."  I was tired of listing the people I refused to work with on staffing polls, fearful that I would been seen as a "troublemaker" who simply could not be staffed.  I felt like TesteRon Jeremy's 2016 NEDC seminar entitled "Who are you and why should I like you?" was not-so-subtly throwing shade in my direction.  

I was heartbroken regarding my decision to retire.  What had I done to deserve this?  How come SNB got to stay while I was all but forced out?  How could people continue to allow him in the community?  If I hadn't said anything about the rape, no one would know, and I would have been able to continue.  I was heartbroken and angry and sad and felt very, very lonely.

March 2017.

I learned that woman who didn't know me called the police when SNB showed up at an event in NY state.  Suddenly, I realized, maybe my speaking up had made a difference.  Maybe a little bit.  Just a tiny bit.

April 2017.

I evaluated my options and chose to un-retire.  Sadly, I had to choose a league an hour from me.  The league closest to me (Hartford) has members of their crew who still work with my rapist and they allow him in their venue.  The next closest league (Connecticut) refuses SNB entrance to their events,  and while their officials are largely supportive (read: awesome), one  of their referees continues to work with SNB.  Thus neither of these leagues are options because they are not safe spaces for me.

May 2017.

I've officiated four games so far in my "new" career.  I won't work with those who support or work with SNB.  I won't work with leagues who claim to have zero-tolerance policies, but enforce them willy-nilly. (I'm looking at you, Maelstrom!)  I'm learning to say no when leagues are in desperate need of officials, because maintaining a good derby/life balance is as important as finding and staying in safe spaces.

* * *

I write this all so I don't have to go on repeating the details anymore.  I write this so others will feel empowered to come forward when someone in the community harasses them.

Find me as "Becca Butts" on Facebook.  I see you and I respect you.  I will listen to and believe you.  Others will, too.  Together, we can make our community safer.

Stay tuned for information regarding sharing information within the New England roller derby community.  The plans are in their infancy, but we are working to hammer out a system of info-sharing and other resources to help keep our community safe.  You don't have to suffer in silence.

* * *

The following leagues currently do NOT allow SNB at their events or in their venues:

  • Boston Roller Derby
  • Central Maine Roller Derby
  • Central New York Roller Derby
  • Connecticut Roller Derby
  • Green Mountain Derby Dames
  • Maine Roller Derby
  • Pioneer Valley Roller Derby
  • Seacoast Roller Derby (Dover, NH)
If you are a part of a league who maintains and enforces a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and associated bullying, drop a comment and I'll add you to this list.  Or email me at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An open letter about rape.

Dear Friends,

As you well know, I've abandoned this legal lego project.  However, this is the only platform I have. So today, I am going to tell you about my experience with rape.

Some background: I graduated from law school nine years ago; I spent the first seven of those years working as a criminal defense attorney. I know the law.  I was damned good at what I did.  I have a knack for story telling and do a killer cross examination.  People fancy me a "strong woman."  I've been told that more times than I can count.  Then I started officiating roller derby and people were like, "Whoa.  We thought you were badass before, but now you are really TRULY bad ASS."

But I don't feel strong.

I was raped.  Twice.

I mean, seriously?  TWICE?  What kind of woman lets herself be raped twice?  I am ashamed and embarrassed by it. The first time happened in 2005.  I had had too much to drink, and had been drugged.  I woke up with his fingers inside me.  "I'm lucky," I thought.  "I'm lucky that he was on coke that night and that's why he couldn't keep it up.  I'm lucky I wasn't raped."

As a second-year law student, I knew better.  I knew that the law doesn't require that some dude stick his dick in me for it to be rape.  Indeed, any penetration "however slight" constitutes rape.  But admitting that I was raped--calling it RAPE--that big-scary-R-word--was more than I could handle.  I didn't go to the cops because I wasn't raped.  I didn't go to the cops because I knew the rape shield statutes in my state didn't protect me enough and that my personal life would be put on trial.  I knew that I would never be able to credibly and effectively do my job as a litigator in my state if I cried rape as a law student.  

I didn't realize that that experience back in March 2005 was rape.  I didn't let myself realize it until about two years ago.  And then, I was raped again.

Again, it was someone I knew.  Again, I didn't think I had been raped.  I mean, we all know that some girls are asking for it.  We all know--especially we who have to cross examine them on a regular basis--we know that one woman's "rape" is just another woman's bad night.

In fact, I was so sure I hadn't been raped that I had sex with him again.  I tantalized him with sexy photos.  I suggested a threesome.  I did all the things that a woman who loves sex (and I do, in fact, love sex) would do. All the things that a woman who was raped would NEVER do.

And it wasn't until more than a year after it happened that I realized it was rape.  I said no.  More than once.  There had been some flirtation and we snuck into a parking lot and it felt wrong and therefore fun, and at 34 years old, I'd still never done it in a car before.  It was fun until it wasn't.  My  body was not aroused, I was physically uncomfortable, and I just didn't want to do it.  "No," I said.  "It hurts," I added.  "Stop.... stop?"  He didn't stop.  "I'm going to make this work," he said.

These days, I think to myself: Was it rape? Maybe he didn't hear me.  I didn't struggle, so he could have assumed consent.  The absence of "no" means "yes," right?  Like, who the hell asks for permission with each new sexual act?  Those affirmative rape laws are patently absurd and impossible to enforce!  I'd said that a million times in the context of criminal defense, hadn't I?

And then there was the alcohol.  I weighed 125 pounds back then and wasn't great with holding my liquor.  But I've never been an obvious drunk.  Despite the four shots of tequila and one cider I'd had that night, he couldn't have known I was drunk.  And the drinking is fodder for cross examination: How many drinks had you had that night? Okay, so you were at the bar from ten until 2, and you had five drinks?  You're 125 pounds, right? In four hours you had four shots and another drink? You don't recall how many times you said no?  In fact, you don't recall saying yes? It's possible that you gave consent that evening, but don't remember it, yes?

The inebriation that makes consent impossible it what raises reasonable doubt.

Jurors see a small woman five drinks and three hours into the evening and they believe that she was looking to fuck.  That's what common sense and life experience teaches us, defense attorneys argue.  This case isn't about the law.  It's about using your common sense and your own life experience.  That's all you need to know that this case isn't about rape.  This case is about a woman with regrets.

I have played this scene over and over in my mind.  To the acquaintance who asked my friend why I didn't file a restraining order, and to the assholes who don't know the full story and tell me I'm overreacting, and to the others who don't realize why so many women choose NOT to report rape.... to all of you, THIS:

The reason I didn't report it is because I didn't want to face a defense attorney even half as good as I.  I didn't want to deal with the humiliation and indignity of going through that process. Enough people already think I'm a liar, a bitch with a vendetta. Why would I want to put that on the public record?

And if I still wonder if it's rape, what's a jury going to think?

Then there's my friends.  They say they support me.  Some of them try, I know they do.  But in both cases--in 2005 and 2013--I missed out on a LOT of things because I didn't want to deal with facing my assailant.  I didn't want to look at either of them.  Back in 2005 I missed parties and cookouts and bonfires.  These days I miss training opportunities, tournaments, and road trips. I have sacrificed friends and experiences and I have listened while good friends of mine talked animatedly about the super-fun shit they did that I couldn't do because I was too busy avoiding my rapist.

The sad part is that it's happening again.  I want to scream at some people: YOU'RE NOT DOING ENOUGH!  I want to yell: HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU LOOK AT THIS PERSON AND NOT IMMEDIATELY VOMIT?  Because that's what I would likely do.

But rationally, I know I can't expect so much from them.  I can't expect them to just GET it.

Which is how I ended up missing two exits on my drive home from work today. This is why I called a friend at the end of my drive, in tears, freaking out. I kept thinking about this.  I kept going over the facts, reciting my most recent rapist's defense attorney's would-be closing argument at trial, and going through all the emotions I've endured silently.  I think about the fact that I've never told anyone all the unsavory details.  They won't respect me if they know I flirted with the guy after (in both cases) and tried to convince myself I was just fine--just FINE--by having sex with the guy after (in both cases).

Rape is something you suffer silently and alone.  Because even if you've been through it, everyone's experience is different and everyone reacts in different ways.

It's been ten years.  And it's been two years.  I'm tired of being silent.

Post Script, May 28, 2015

I had a bad day on Tuesday.  An hour commute gives a person a lot of time to be alone with her thoughts--which is exactly what happened.  A former writer, I immediately got home and wrote about what I was feeling.  If I had thought through the consequences, I would never have posted this.  I violated by own rule, which is: Any time anything is written in anger, wait 72 hours before clicking "send" or "post" or before fax-filing that motion with super-snarky footnotes.

There is a lot I did not write here: The escalation of events, the rumors, the damage to my personal and quasi-professional reputation. I've been stewing in fury for a year and it all came to a head on a regular Tuesday evening.

If I could undo this, I would.  The responses and attention I've received over the past few days is nothing I wanted.  But it's also important to point out that rape isn't the be-all, end-all.  It shouldn't take an accusation of rape to make people pay attention.  I implore you: When people start saying someone is creepy, or that someone touches people in ways they don't like, or that someone threatens them, or that someone says inappropriate things of the sort that induces nausea, please listen to them and consider that they might, in fact, be telling the truth.

It should't take a rape accusation to compel people to action.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Reggie has been watching the City Museum all day.  As night falls an [oddly shaped] crescent moon hangs low in the sky, illuminating the landscape.

Though he is fairly certain, he wants to make sure that a trap has actually been set.  Reggie knows that they LCPD wouldn't be as obvious enough to set a visible trap.  Thus, he knows there as an invisible trap.  As he hides in the brush near the City Museum, he looks around for a way to test his hypothesis.

Reggie finds a hedgehog in the brush and throws it at the door to the museum.  Zap!  Just as he thought.  Once-invisible lasers light up as the hedgehog passes over the threshold.

A sheisty heist.

The LCPD put its plan into motion by putting two undercover agents--Allen and Beth--out on the street,  The two dress as dealers of antiquity and drive a posh convertible filled with ancient artifacts to the City Museum.

They hope to lure Reggie and his crew out of hiding with long-hanging heist fruit.  But Reggie, having eavesdropped on the LCPD's plans, know this is a sheisty heist.

Where's Reggie?

Sergeant Hurley decides he must act in order to save the jobs of his men!  He starts by organizing a meeting with his best and brightest ace detectives and leaders.  They talk for hours and a plan begins to formulate.

The men in blue are so excited (and so lazy due to the lack of crime over the past months) that they don't even notice Reggie, who listens to the plan and is aware of the trap the LCPD is going to set for him.


It has been nine months since there has been any crime in LEGO City.  The LCPD officers have been playing tiddlywinks at the station and they're starting to become scared.  With no crime going on, they've no criminals to catch.  And with no criminals, they may soon not have jobs.

The streets are nearly empty but for the LEGO City police, who have taken to spending their time searching for crime in the City Square.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life (and death) in the box. (14 of 14)

Turd is transported to her cell, The Box.  She lives out the rest of her years there, her only company a dead and rotting next-door neighbor.  She never skates or sees the light of day ever ever again.  Reggie has succeeded in his evil ploy to take down roller derby one league at a time.