Reddit Intro: I hope you guys enjoy the article. These are from a series of articles/reports by victims of sexual abuse/domestic violence in the MMA world, which, while definitely a heavy read, all carry a certain sense of bravery from the women who report in them, while also providing interesting insight on how abusive practice environments get. Be warned if you are not comfortable reading about those things in detail. The last two chapters have already been released, they are reports from ex-UFC fighter Ericka Almeida and Karina Gracie and I'll most likely be translating them as well. All in all, this chapter is the least relevant to this sub in terms of the people involved, but it is still an interesting read nonetheless imo. This has been a complete amateur endeavor so if you guys are interesting into giving credit to the people who actually put in the work for this piece, here's the original link(also, they have cool pictures/artwork to follow up on the article's stories): https://esporte.uol.com.breportagens-especiais/vozes-no-tatame-relato-de-mulheres-agredidas-no-universo-da-luta---aos-13/#vozes-no-tatame At 13.
When I was 13 years old, my judo teacher gave me the idea of making it to the Rio Olympics. It was 2011, and I divided my days between school and the mat. I trained since eight years old and soon distinguished myself as one of the best fighters of my age in my gym, a place with old look near the Santa Cruz subway station, in the southern zone of São Paulo. I had begun training because my mom thought it was good for children to practice a sport, but soon my teacher started noticing my competitivity. At the time I saw my teacher as an example of an athlete. He was a black belt, competed at championships and taught us the fundamentals of the sport and of life. Under his orientation, I'd do anything to become an elite fighter. I'd train hard for tournaments, ignore pain, go through restrictive diets and eat ice not to get fat and break the weight limit at my category. This was normal. To this day I blame myself for not noticing when things became strange.
One training day, he put up a flower with a belt in my kimono and gave me as a gift. I was a bit embarrassed but didn't say anything. In the preparation for a fight, after I had cut a lot of weight to make my division, he got close to me and said I looked sexy. He used to walk in the women's changing room without a reason while we changed and smooch us. If anyone complained, he'd make it look like it was all a joke. Another joke: when a cute guy showed up at the gym and I mentioned with someone, he'd end up knowing and playfully act jealous. We'd laugh. It looked like an over-protective father taking care of his daughter. Afterward, It seemed different.
During an open practice session for the children's parents, he pulled me to a corner in the mat. He had so much technique he could put me in any position he wanted. After a roll, he shoved his tongue in my mouth, a big kiss, messy and violent. My mom was by our side but didn't see a thing. When I think of those days of intense training, I remember tying my belt tight to keep him from putting his hands under the kimono and touching me, which he had also begun to do.
Now, you might be wondering why I didn't scream after the first stolen kiss, why didn't I report it when he first touched me? I kept asking that myself these last years. The truth is I don't have an answer. On one side, this kind of thing bothered me, on the other I secretly felt wanted. He was nice and treated me well most times. I thought that by his side I could conquer the world, It was what I deserved. And I was 13 years old.
One day I posted a video on facebook playing "Everything", from Michael Bublé, on our house's piano. We used to chat about music. According to facebook's chat log, the following messages were sent between September and December 2011. My teacher was 36 years old, was married and had two kids.
Teacher: There's a song I just posted on my Facebook about you. Kisses Pretty.
Teacher: I want a piece of that cake ok! Rss (Brazilian online slang for laughing) Even though I messaged your congratulation, I'm not satisfied not giving it in person, anyway... Congratulations again Pretty!!! Kisses and we'll meet thursday...
Teacher: I wanted that song to be just for me and not for the whole facebook [sad emoji] I know it's selfish, but at least a dedication, that would make me even happier!!! Rsss But it was beautiful, thanks for the effort. Kisses Pretty.
Megan Sutton-Kirkby: I was going to... but I don't know, It would be too obvious, I don't know. We need to talk about that day when the boys went to eat and we made out in the gym. My mom told me to post it on face because she wanted the rest of the family to see me playing. If it wasn't for that I'd have sent it only to you. But I want you to know I dedicate it to you and no one else.
The picture of this conversation is on the files of the lawsuit that the Public Attorney’s Office would open against my teacher. I thought that we had made out that day. The truth is that I was raped. Inside the gym, closed doors.
That's how the rape started. He'd been insisting on going out with me for months. He even invited me to the movies and promised dinner with flowers. We'd make out in secret, and since he was married, I knew it was very wrong. He wrote me a letter saying he was a man, that he had desires, and that he couldn't stay just making out. That he wanted more. He said he was in love with me. I answered I couldn't. He, being a father and the gym's master, could never do that. He'd be arrested.
I looked it up online and found out that a law had just passed classifying sexual relationships with anyone under 14-years old as the rape of a vulnerable person[brazilian law term], no matter if it was consensual. I warned him. He answered that the law wasn't important when it stood in front of me being happy. And that I had to do what made me happy.
One day, when my mom couldn't pick me up at the gym, she asked him to give me a ride. After practice he closed the gym doors. It was about 22pm. The boys went out to get pizza, and I went inside the car because it would take me home. He went around the block and parked where we left. He reopened the gym. In the dark, he took off my clothes and threw me in the mat. He fucked me right there. It's strange to remember the scene. It's like it happened with someone else, as if I was just observing. I didn't feel pain nor pleasure. I was scared. That's all.
It wasn't just once. He raped me four, five other times. At the time I didn't see it as rape. He was never violent with me, but he seduced me to do anything he wanted. I truly believed I was unique. He'd say I was already a woman. A 13-year old woman. I didn't feel love, nor attraction, nor chemistry. It was just my desire not to let my teacher down, to make my teacher proud. I tried asking him for us to stop with what we were doing because it was wrong, but we didn't.
Until my mom found out. She saw the chat I had with him and with a friend who I'd talk about the affair we had. My mom did what any mom would do: a scandal. She got all of the gym's masters together with me and my teacher's wife and told them all that he had sex with me. I was desperate, I threw myself on the ground crying, I cried, I wanted to die. I hated my mom for it. All I wanted was to train with my friends and who knows, someday be a world champion. The denunciation was stopping that dream.
There, full of shame and hate, I screamed it was all a lie, that nothing ever happened and that my mom was making it all up. The lie cleared my teacher from punishment. I and my mom got out of the gym considered crazy and problematic. I stopped training with him, but before I left, I found out he had been fucking at least five other students.
My mom took me to the police statement, where we made a formal complaint against my teacher. I remember hearing the clerk say something that stuck with me. She said: "You know you were deluded, and delusion isn't a crime."
I got out of there and didn't train for months. I tried to get a routine back. I passed a test for club Pinheiros, where I got to train with(and beat) girls who would later be part of the Brazilian national Judo team. But the sport didn't do me any good anymore and I couldn't stop remembering what my old teacher had done. I tried to qualify for São Paulo's championship, but I gave up on it. I threw myself against a wall from the gym until I tore a shoulder ligament - self-sabotage, I later learn during therapy.
I blamed myself for the shitty life I had, blamed my mom for putting me in that position. After I left Judo, I read her emails and found out that she had a brief relationship with my teacher when I was seven years old, before I could even train at his gym. I developed a promiscuous behavior as if sex could clean up the dirt I had become. One day I told my mom that this is what I was: A whore. Another day, I went to Jabaquara viaduct, which goes over Bandeirantes avenue. I thought of jumping, but I gave up in the last second and went home. On trial, abandoned.
A year after being raped I started to notice I couldn't be an elite Judo athlete anymore. I started to dedicate myself to studying, I got a scholarship to go study in Germany. When I came back, I started to train in a jiu-jitsu gym and saw again a future as a professional athlete. In a new sport, I gathered medals and I got sponsors.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit against my old teacher, opened in 2012, slowly progressed. I had an electronic password with which I accessed the court's system with a near-religious obsession, waiting for a condemnation that would satisfy my desire for justice.
During the lawsuit, I wasn't able to gather witnesses who could back me up. I had no money to hire a lawyer to act as my assistant in the Public Attorney's accusation, so I became just another detail on the dispute between the parts. The victim. I felt like a simple passager on a bus that should take me to justice but instead left me alone in the middle of nowhere.
On July 2017, my teacher was charged guilty on the first instance for raping a vulnerable person. He'd get ten years, but he appealed while free. On April 2018, after his defense attorney called me "shameless" in the files for wearing clothes that he considered provocative, my rapist was absolved by São Paulo's Justice Court. The judges considered my testimony imprecise and didn't consider me vulnerable, to fulfill the qualification for the rape of a vulnerable person. Without any consultation, the Public Attorney gave up on the lawsuit. In May, six years after the charges, the trial was over. Absolved, considered not-guilty by the judges who never even heard what I had to say, my teacher also took the right of pronouncing his name from me. In fear of eventual legal consequences, I'll keep his anonymity throughout this text. But he knows what he did. We know. In school, open doors.
Little by little I understood that my realization my lie within teaching. Last year, I got into college to become a history teacher.
When I started teaching at a school, my biggest fear was around my reaction when I spoke to the younger girls. Some traumas last forever. Nowadays, being 21 years old, studying at São Paulo's University, I don't have any Olympic dreams anymore and I learned something along the road that brought me here. But something from that 13-year old athlete survives within me.
One of my students came to me to talk about problems at her home and about how she had thought of taking her own life. How many girls felt like her? I was shocked. I saw in her a little of the drama I went through at the start of my teenagehood. How many like us are there? You might be wondering why I'd speak about all of this now. Why clean up my closet of these ghosts that have haunted me for years? Why point my finger at someone that the justice system considered not guilty? It happens that some stories need to be told, or they tend to repeat themselves under accomplice silence. We need to support and offer support to girls who suffered or suffer sexual abuse and talk about it at schools, at gyms, at clubs, at changing rooms, so that stories like mine don't repeat themselves. It's what I'll do now. And my old teacher, a judo black belt, whose desires as a man one day were more important than mine as my dreams as a teenager, what is he doing now? The teacher's defense.
Absolved by unanimity in the second instance, the teacher accused of rape by the student Megan Sutton-Kirkby affirms he's innocent. He says he has a clear conscience and that he still teaches, according to Roberto Vasconcelos da Gama, his defense attorney. According to his lawyer, the Judo black belt never had any relationship with Megan, who built her "fantastic" report in "revenge due to the teacher's previous relationship with the mom."
"The girl liked him and felt scorned. What happened there was revanchism which took her to build a fantasy, common for teenagers", the lawyer affirmed, a teacher of criminal proceedings. "The testimonies on trial go along the same way, that she'd go to the gym showing her body, on a bikini, to provoke the teacher and hit on him. But even so he never submitted."
In the sentence, the reporter[brazilian legal term] Aberto Anderson Filho confirmed that he only analyzed the allegation that the accused would have had "carnal conjunction with a minor" and that he didn't take into account the private messages exchanged between both. The magistrate questioned how precise Megan's report was and affirmed that, during the lawsuit, the student presented different versions with respect to the dates in which the crimes would have occurred.
The magistrate also brought into question how vulnerable Megan was at thirteen. "Without being certain about the date in which, if it even happened, the first relationship between the victim and the accused took place, there's no way to categorically affirm that a crime such as rape of a vulnerable happened. To condemn someone it is imperative that the evidence is solid, safe, clear of doubt", sentenced the judge. The teacher was absolved in April 2018. In May, the lawsuit was closed, ending any possibilities for appeals. Voices from the mat
This is the first chapter of the series "Voices from the Mat" from UOL Esporte. They are first-person reports from women, from athletes to ex-athletes, who suffered gender-related violence and sexual abuse while they practice martial arts. The reportage got into contact with women who practiced sports such as judo or jiu-jitsu and suffered assaults or rape by other athletes. All of the accused are black belts in their respective sports. "Voices from the Mat" had three chapters that will be published between 14 and 28 of august.