The Facebook IBJJF champ, the coach, the training partner

I will start with my first one. It’s the more graphic one and the one that haunts me most. I was a 1 year white belt at the time, fully into Açaí, IBJJF, and also wanting to be the next UFC champion. I wanted it all and I was full of energy for BJJ. I got a friend request on Facebook, I was 19 years old, and I noticed the friend request was from a black belt in the local area, not from my school. His bio contained the likes of “multiple time IBJJF champion,” etc, and a picture of him winning a match. Being naive, I accepted the friend request. He then proceeded to message me, told me that I was gorgeous and that he couldn’t believe I did BJJ, and said we should “train sometime”. I now know this was a grooming technique. Now I wouldn’t even accept the request. 

Anyways, the messages progressed and he eventually asked me on a “date.” He picked me up and the dinner was somewhat normal. Then he proceeded to tell me he loved me, etc. I was a little confused, but I thought it may be because he was foreign. I was your typical “BJJ saved my life girl”, I partied in college and it set my life straight, so how could this black belt be taking advantage of me? Never thought that at the time. Then we got in the car to leave and we pulled up to my apartment and he proceeded to sexually harass me in the car. I left, and still being naive, never understood and continued to see him another time where he went even further and raped me. I never told anyone this, I just kept training at my academy because I didn’t want to quit on my goals.

Two years go, and I’m in a different state. I’m only focusing on MMA, and I’m still naive, young, but a little turned off by BJJ now for obvious reasons. I joined an MMA specific gym and loved it. I even took my first MMA fight and won via submission. It was an amazing feeling! During this time there was a predator among me and I hardly even knew it. He was a blackbelt and a coach, was married with kids, but known to have extra marital affairs. Why would I even talk with someone like this given my experience prior? Well, I was barley 20-21. Still young, still having PTSD from childhood and that incident, and he exploited me. He said “hey, come over I want to show you some videos of old fights.” So I went, deep down knowing that it was inappropriate, but I was alone, single and didn’t have much outside of MMA. I got there and he tried to take advantage of me, but God stepped in and some lady came screaming and banging on the door. I was able to escape after he left to deal with her. I say take advantage because he knew what he was doing, he was preying on me.

My third and thankfully final incident was at this same gym. A BJJ coach would come in to train us once a week, and thank god this time it wasn’t the coach. It was another athlete, but still. This athlete was a blue belt, and he was my drilling partner for No-Gi. He made the remark to me via Facebook “wow, I’d love to see your triangle here at my hotel!” At this point, I had a lot of experience with abuse, so I went straight to my fight manager. He brought it to the BJJ coach’s attention and I was told, “you’re just young, he didn’t mean anything by that. Stop being so sensitive and naive.” That same coach also told me “don’t wear shorts without compression shorts next time, it attracts comments.” I was shocked his wife also said the same thing to me, blaming me essentially. To keep my identity private I will not say my belt rank, but I have stuck with the sport. I met my eventual husband through it and still train and compete today. I am remaining anonymous to protect that image, but I will not longer be silent. #notsilent