View Full Version : Ex partners and response by the dojo

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05-20-2018, 04:16 AM
I have been at a dojo for a while. Met my partner (he's been in the aikido group much much longer) there, then broke up with my partner and we both still go to the same dojo.

There was this incident off the mat, where I basically ended up talking to the police about reporting my ex for sexual harassment / sexual assault (the police referred to it as minor case of sexual assault) - in the end they said it was useless for me to report unless he does it a couple of times... so I didn't end up reporting it officially. I was getting so nervous about training at the dojo: what would happen if he tries to train with me and I don't want to... and I became really anxious about turning up to class.

So I told my teacher. I didn't use the term sexual harassment or sexual assault - just that he touched me inappropriately and that the police couldn't do anything about it. I got told - then just don't train with him. Later I got told this is a personal matter and the dojo could help with things related to class but this is a personal thing.

I was upset enough to skip a couple of classes. I was expecting a response more like - that's fine you don't need to train with him and if something like that happens at the dojo let me know.

Was I expecting too much? I felt like I just got dismissed as someone causing trouble. I have been there for a while, so maybe I was thinking their reaction would be more similar to what a friend would say, and not what an organisationn would say. I already let other people at the dojo know because there's so much close contact in aikido...

Another high ranking instructor came recently, and talked about people are not people at training - they are just energy.... things not related to training, personality issues... they should be left off the mat. I though he looked at me when he said the last part, maybe I'm overthinking it. At the same time, I thought something like sexual assault can't get ignored and "left outside".

Having thoughts on if I should talk to my teacher again and make it clear I am talking about sexual assault.
At the same time, it seems like there is nothing I could do if I want to training there... all it seems I can do is to keep reminding everyone I hate my ex... so that he would think twice about trying something on or off the mat.

Michael Hackett
05-21-2018, 09:34 AM
As I understand your story, you told your Sensei that your former partner did some inappropriate thing outside the dojo and you reported it to the police. You told him that the police did not take any action after your complaint. Then you were told you didn't have to train with your partner and subsequently that your matters relating to the dojo could be taken care of and those outside the dojo were of a personal nature and not the dojo's business.

What is it that you wish the dojo leadership will do? Are you hoping your former partner will be dismissed? I imagine that could happen if your allegations of his misconduct could be clearly established, but from what you've said, you made a complaint that wasn't acted upon outside the dojo for some reason. You said that you've reminded people that you hate your former partner - that isn't going to enhance your credibility.

Stay away from your former partner inside and outside the dojo. If he acts towards you, report him to legal authorities and your dojo leadership. If he does not misbehave in any way to you and you continue to feel uncomfortable, consider moving to another dojo.

05-21-2018, 11:16 AM
I have no opinion on what happened and have no way of determining right and wrong here.

Now I offer de following viewpoint:
In my dojo a couple split up. One of them comes to me and tells me about sexual assault which didn't get reported and on which no legal action was taken. I only have this person telling me. I do want to support this person and make this person feel safe.
As I understand training together might be awkward and unwanted in this situation I give the person permission not to train with the former partner. Of course if something unwanted would happen in the dojo I would want to hear about it, but this is so natural for me that I do not say this explicitly.
Next thing I know I am getting reports about how this person is telling dojo-members how this person hates the former partner and it almost feels like I am being coerced into taking action and being made an actor in a problem that wasn't mine to begin with.

What am I to do?

05-27-2018, 06:19 AM
I think the problem was more that my instructor cut me off from talking and I was had to really press to say more than an sentence to him. My instructor was being very abrupt and I think it sounded like my instructor seem to hate the fact I brought it up as if it has nothing to do with training, and perferred if I sneaked around class avoiding my ex instead of actually bringing it up. I'm thinking, if it's going to impact the class then it is relevant to the class.

He pressed his groin into me in broad daylight. The police said nothing usually happens to these cases without CCTV and sadly reporting is just a waste of time. Does that make a difference?

Is that level of detail too much detail to tell anyone?
Maybe it's because I'm a girl - I was thinking, if I was the teacher and something was going on I would rather know about it than to find out when an incident happens on the mat. At least then I know it's something to keep a watch out for.

As for what I wanted the response to be - more supportive. Similar words can sound different with a tone change... instead of being a nuisance I wished I was told they're glad I still showed up and it's fine for me to not train with my ex. I'm not trying to get him thrown out, and it's not something I considered unless he does something to me on the mat... but I don't plan on letting him do anything.

I am nervous and jittery any class and I don't like it when guys bring me up too close to their hakama and a part of me hits it (especially at the front). Any suggestions on what I can say to tell people not to bring me so close when I start getting nervous?

As for changing dojos... I have considered it. He turns up randomly to maybe 5-10% of my classes while I'm more regular. Which is why it feels like a shame to quit and weighing up trouble with staying...

Michael Hackett
05-27-2018, 02:35 PM
After reading your latest entry several times, I've somewhat changed my thoughts. Specifically you are now complaining that you are uncomfortable when you are held closely by male training partners on the mat. That creates an almost impossible situation. I AM making the assumption that your male training partners are only performing aikido and not abusing you sexually. If that is the case, you probably should consider finding a counselor to help you adjust and develop confidence and self-assurance when dealing with those of the opposite sex. That is a major issue that will continue to have a terrible negative effect on your study of aikido unless you can find a comfortable way to train within yourself. I still recommend that you avoid dealing with your ex on and off the mat, and if he behaves unlawfully or inappropriately again, report him to the appropriate authorities; your sensei and the police, as well as considering getting a restraining order (if your community has such an implement).

Good luck to you.

05-29-2018, 02:44 PM
I have no opinion on what happened and have no way of determining right and wrong here.

Clearly the incident with you ex-partner has left you scarred and now is having a negative influence on how you function and makes you uncomfortable in previously normal training situations.
Please take the suggestion Micheal Hackett made into consideration.

Seeking help isn't a sign weakness, it is a sign of taking back the control you lost.

05-30-2018, 12:36 PM
I'm gonna third the suggestion to seek help, but I may have a bit of a different take on it.

Michael says, "...you probably should consider finding a counselor to help you adjust and develop confidence and self-assurance when dealing with those of the opposite sex. That is a major issue that will continue to have a terrible negative effect on your study of aikido unless you can find a comfortable way to train within yourself." Sorta agree, sorta don't. Aikido involves a level of physical contact that is not normal or appropriate in other contexts. Because of that -- because of all the social messages that tell us that this is inappropriate -- aikidoists are only able to have this level of contact if we understand what it does and doesn't mean. It's training in a martial art. It isn't about sex and it isn't about violence or aggression, and all participants need to understand that and to hold to it. And then, outside the dojo, we need to behave appropriately in other contexts where the rules are different.

Not everyone can do this. Not everyone who's been socialized their whole life to believe that certain level of physical contact with someone of the opposite sex is inappropriate, is going to be able to simply set that aside when they walk in the dojo. That doesn't mean this person lacks "confidence and self-assurance when dealing with those of the opposite sex". What they lack is TRUST, and in this case, they lack it because their trust has been violated. They have had the misfortune of dealing with someone who violated boundaries outside the dojo, where that kind of contact is just not ok. Why would you think that this individual would be more likely to respect boundaries INSIDE the dojo?

I understand that this may well mean that OP can't continue to train, at least at this dojo. I'm not sure that the sensei or dojo can do anything that would put OP's mind at ease at this point. I also get that the sensei doesn't feel he can ban the alleged perpetrator from the dojo. And I get that counseling may be helpful to OP. But, OP, ain't nothin' wrong with YOU, or your attitude toward the opposite sex. Any "confidence and self-assurance" that comes out counseling should be confidence in your ability to spot an abuser from a safe distance, and self-assurance that you can deal with the situation without any damage being done to yourself. If you do seek counseling, look for someone who has experience dealing with survivors. I wish you the best.

05-31-2018, 06:37 AM
My advice to the OP is similar to what I would tell my adult daughter.

File the police report. I know the police said it was useless to report the incident but that was from their perspective of proceeding with legal action against your ex partner. You can file a report with the police based only on what you said happened. It will be documented if future harassment occurs showing a pattern of behavior. Let the partner know that you have filed a report. This might be best if a lawyer were to notify him by letter instead of you directly. This would put him on notice that you won't tolerate his behavior.

Do a back ground check on him to see if he has any history of this or any other behavior. You can do the check yourself online. Most cities and counties provide access to their court records for free or a small fee. They also have a free sexual predator database you can access for free ( states too ). You can pay an online service to do the public record search or pay a private investigator to do it for you.

If he touches you or speaks to you at practices, respond in a loud voice identifying him, say stop or don't and what he did. example: BOB STOP BUMPING INTO ME!!
This may be embarrassing to you but much more so for him and let's everyone at practice know he is harrassing you (witnesses?)

Good Luck

05-31-2018, 09:42 AM
I am mostly echoing other posts here, but I would break up the OP as:
1. An issue of sexual harassment/assault. This is a legal matter and should be treated as such. The location of the incident is relevant in the sense that where's the incident took place.
2. A continuation of interaction with an offender. Now, the dojo is a place where two people are interacting and that interaction causes discomfort. An instructor or dojo cho can understand the situation and look at some solutions. Personally, at the level about which you are speaking, I would consider a voluntary decision to leave the dojo, or ask the offender to leave the dojo. At the elevation of criminal behavior, I would think you don't want to interact any longer.
3. Personal discomfort. A little murkier, but it is not uncommon for incidents of personal violation to cause some anxiety and other issues. If you feel discomfort here, seek help.

I see a lot of DV as part of my job. There is a distinction between discomfort and inappropriate behavior. It's OK to feel uncomfortable, but don't let that discomfort affect what needs to happen. Also, remember that there is more than one side to a story. Not everyone may know, agree, or understand what is happening - be clear in what you want to happen so others can help.