Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sexual Harassment and Enforcers

Let me tell you a personal story.

For anyone with experience with sexual assault, this story is going to be full of triggers. This is not going to be a nice story, and it’s going to be one involving a former Enforcer who went by the name of Tango, or Simon Edwards.

When I first became an Enforcer, I was welcomed into a very positive and warm community. People were kind and people were helpful and I felt very safe. I felt safe as a woman who has experienced sexual violence and has had negative experiences with men she was supposed to trust. I was spending time with men who felt protective of me and would rather have me as a friend and not pressure me into things than push themselves onto me. I value these friendships still, and I value them as human beings. Enforcers are a good brand of people generally and I have never felt so seriously safe until spending time with these people, male and female alike.

Until Tango entered the picture.

Initially, he came off as charming and welcoming. He was the head of security and vocal member of the community, making himself known. He seemed to be the ‘cool’ guy, and at my first PAX, he came over and put his arm around me and put on my whale hat, knowing exactly who I was without having me introduce myself. Looking back, that should have been my first hint, but I felt safe in the community, so why question it? I shouldn’t have to. No one should. No woman should have to question the reasons behind a man’s actions towards them to ensure their safety in the Enforcer community. No one should have to period, but especially here. And as a person who doesn’t like being touched, especially without permission, I blamed myself for feeling off about being touched. It was not my fault.

He spent a lot of time really trying to get to know me, messaging me about my likes and dislikes, talking about stuff, but always trying to make it sexual. He tried to flatter my intelligence and he tried to get into my head. During the summer, a while back, I told him he could visit because he wanted to go to Redstar and Daybreak’s going away party. I thought, “Cool, I’ll get to hang out with him. Neat.”

So he came over, at night, and came into my apartment. I immediately felt off and anxious, but I tried to attribute that to other problems going on. I tried to tell myself that this was in my head. But when he tried to get close and kiss me, unprompted and without warning or asking, I knew something was wrong. I picked up my cat and held her in front of me (God bless Grace), and he backed off. He said, “Alix, please don’t use the cat as a defense mechanism to avoid getting close.” He immediately blamed me, and made me feel badly for not wanting these advances.

He spent the rest of the evening trying to lay on my bed, place a hand on my thigh, asking to kiss me over and over despite my repeatedly telling him no. Then when it came to it, he noted he was spending the night (not really asking) and said he wanted to sleep in my bed naked. I put my foot down and told him that wasn’t happening (and while I should have asked him to leave, I wasn’t quite at the point where I felt comfortable doing that) and he finally agreed. He slept in my bed, which I felt awful about and still do, but he made it sound like I had agreed to all of it without coercion and without a problem. Tango lives on psychological warfare and mental manipulation and understands how to make women feel as though they’ve agreed to something they have not.

Moving forward, when Jace and I were dating, he came over at one point to spend a few days in Boston. The evening before he left, Tango had been messaging me asking to see myself and Jace. He noted that Jace had to leave the next day, and Tango was staying near the airport, so we might as well spend the night at his place. I noted that I wanted to spend my last night with just Jace, and he felt the same with me, so we declined. Tango noted that if Jace and I wanted to have sex, we totally could, in his hotel room while he stayed in the room, and he was OK with it.

I felt disgusting. Not only was he making these crude sexual remarks, but he was now involving my boyfriend. He was involving someone who had trusted him (Jace had looked up to Tango, both as an authority and as a good person) and he was manipulating Jace. To anyone who thinks only women can be harmed by these things, men are totally capable. I cannot speak for Jace, but my guess was that he felt wounded in some way by the situation.

Even going FURTHER, before PAX East, I remember discussing a dress I was going to wear for the after party in a G+ Hangout (everyone gets on their webcam, ten people can be in a conference and it was all Enforcers) and Tango was present. Jace had jokingly made a crude sexual comment about my dress, and he finally noted in room what he had said was that he wanted to ‘fuck me up against a wall’ in the dress. And he had said it matter-of-factly, made it amusing, and everyone laughed. Tango laughed. Tango heard that.

At the after party, where I was to feel safe, surrounded by Enforcers and surrounded by my friends, I drank. I drank because I felt safe with Jace, I felt safe with Enforcers, and I felt looked after. But before leaving, Tango pulled me aside, away from everyone, and noted how good I looked. Politely, I thanked him, and then he took it further, getting close and whispering, “I can see why Jace wanted to fuck you up against a wall now.” And he grinned at me. I felt so sick in that moment. I wanted to puke. I was alone with this man and he was making these comments, and after everything. And at an event meant for Enforcers and meant for us to feel safe, he violated that.

Tango has not just violated me. He has violated women I love and care about and at events where Enforcers specifically should feel safe. He has violated in IRC, at PAX, and at after parties and at individual dates and events. If this were a case where women were complaining about someone where not everyone was on the same page, or where it was alone and no documentation, I could possibly understand the length of time it took to deal with this. But the fact that women were violated, it was documented and it was understood, and that it happened in a place where I was TOLD I could feel safe, makes me more than angry. It makes me full of rage and disappointment. A community full of love has had that taken forcefully from a man who had no right to do that. No one has a right to do that.

To say that I feel violated is an understatement. When Tango appeared last night at an event meant to be positive and full of love and stole that by simply being there, I felt the violation all over again. I felt unsafe where I shouldn’t and I felt scared for the women he was preying on all over again, women in the PAX community who should feel safe and shouldn’t have to worry about what will happen.

So I want the world to know. Tango has sexually assaulted women in the Enforcer community. His role in Enforcers was revoked because of this, and it was not made public. I am making it public.

I am done with silence.

Notes

  1. wrendarla reblogged this from recoveringdk
  2. intravenouscoffee reblogged this from recoveringdk and added:
    Don’t get me wrong. Penny Arcade is awesome & the guys do a lot of awesome things, but that’s no excuse for COVERING UP...
  3. marhis reblogged this from recoveringdk
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  5. allthingsnerdyandgirly reblogged this from recoveringdk and added:
    Sharing this because it’s important and needs to be talked about. For many (most I’d guess) PAX is a safe place to...
  6. popelizbet reblogged this from thingsstingshouldsing
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  14. officer1bdi reblogged this from recoveringdk and added:
    can barely begin...imagine what you must...shit like that....
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