I wrote this about 2 weeks ago. I decided not to share this because I value my privacy and some of the things I’m going to talk about are open wounds that I’m still healing and recovering from. But with that being said there couldn’t be a better time to share my story.
I never thought I would be opening up and sharing these experiences on a public platform for all my friends, families and peers to read.
First and foremost, I want to address a black cloud that’s been looming over my head for the last decade. I was 14 years old when I entered the MLG scene. Upon entry, I started rubbing shoulders with community idols, the professional players. I was getting attention from people’s idols and it made them angry. I started getting harassed and the word “pro-hoe” was immediately attached to my name.
When I was 15 years old an ex-boyfriend leaked a naked picture of me. My underage body was seen by thousands of people. It circulated my school within a couple days. My principal called me and my parents in for a meeting, they told me that the picture spread like wildfire and they hoped I would start considering other mediums for my education (homeschool/alternative center).
This opened the floodgates for people in the Halo community to treat me like I was a subhuman. There were hundreds of JTV accounts made slut shaming and dehumanizing me with my name in them. People had the link to the picture bookmarked and would repeatedly post them in MLG streams during live events. I felt like a lot of people looked away from what was going on and that this was not a safe place for me. But I couldn’t shake the desire to compete. I was terrified of posting on the MLG forums because of how hard I would be trolled and the mean things that would be said to me. I could not find a team in a community that was so biased against me. I was a talented Reach player and yet I was severely overlooked.
My Dad and I would drive down the east coast together for events. My Dad is the drill sergeant type and the voice of unquestioned authority. He was with me during every event and there were strict rules in place: I had a religious 8:30pm curfew, he demanded to meet people before I could hang out with them alone and absolutely no one was allowed in our room. People would make up rumors about me while I was at the event. They’d say things like “I saw her getting into the elevator with T-Squared”. Things would spread so fast online that by the time I got home I was dealing with intense levels of harassment. Anytime I tried to address these lies, my voice was never heard. So here I am for the final time, a decade later, saying that I did not hook up or have sex with any pro (relationship or not) while I was at an event. I was 15 years old. I was with my Dad. This was not okay.
I was cancelled by this community. I have never seen this level of harassment in our community replicated.
This leads me to my story of abuse during my relationship with professional Halo player Danoxide.
I started talking to Dan in January of 2018. I knew that he had a past of being aggressive with women. I ignored the redflags and the warnings from others about him. I treaded carefully, I listened to him (every abuser is going to lie about being an abuser) and I thought that I could help him be a better person. At the time, my Mom was fighting Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. He didn’t have a car so I would meet his family half way, he would stay at my house for long periods of time. It took about 2 months for him to start getting aggressive. At first, it was punching things like walls, my desk chair and even at times himself. It was scary how this person could go 0-100 and once they got there, there was no coming back.
Before Orlando 2018, he was staying at my house. He did not have his Xbox so we were sharing mine. I had neglected my team heavily during this time because he was the “professional player” and his team took precedence over mine. I had finally got on to practice with my team, we were doing our daily GB matches when we matched HIS team at the time. They had a sub in his place. He started to get impatient when he saw that his team was on and practicing without him. I had barely played with my team up until this point and I was frustrated that I finally got the opportunity to get on and do these daily matches, and now he’s freaking out and screaming at me. During the series, he watched me play from my bed, any time I would die he would scream things like “you’re fucking dog shit, I hope they stain you, you fucking suck, dumb bitch”. He was laughing maniacally in the background. Despite what was going on, the game was still close. It was a Fathom flag and we’re tied 2-2, I saw Holic make a good play and I got hyped, I said “Good job Joey!” He got off the bed and walked over to my mixamp and unplugged my mic. He started screaming in my face, I kept trying to plug my mic back into my mixamp but my hands were shaking BAD. We started wrestling for the mic cord, he was standing and I was sitting in my desk chair. He hit me in the face with a closed fist so hard that my headset fell off. I was stunned. I didn’t hit him back. I just cried with my mic unplugged. I played the rest of the series in silence and then I got off immediately after we were done.
After this incident things just got worse. Orlando was a terrible event, I was a prisoner in my hotel room because he didn’t want me mingling with anyone, not even my teammates. When we returned home, the violence continued. He would stay at my house for long periods of time with no way of getting home. These fights would usually happen late at night, there were times where I was legitimately scared for my life. I really wanted to call 911. I cared about the impact that that would have on his future. I also didn’t want my parents waking up at 4 or 5am to police officers. Especially not my Mom. I kept it hidden from my family. I thought I could handle things on my own but I was in way too deep.
My Mom’s health took a turn for the worst in October of 2018. He was with me in person during this time. We attended Dreamhack Atlanta 2018 two weeks after my Mom passed. I wanted this trip to be a vacation but I didn’t get what I wanted. We had gotten into a fight on Saturday at a restaurant with Halo peers. I walked away from the table to go to the bathroom, he followed me. When he got close to me, he shoved me. We were standing in front of the bathrooms and I told him I wanted to leave, I was trying to call an uber when he grabbed my phone out of my hand and started bending it in anger. He bent my iPhone (with a case on) so bad that the metal kinked. On Sunday morning, I stood my ground about wanting to break up. I was waiting for my Uber to go to the venue and he chased me outside. I told him I was really breaking up with him, and his response was, “I went to your mom’s funeral for you.” Word for word. He used my Mom’s funeral as leverage over me. That was it for me. I knew right then and there I needed to get away as soon as possible and I did. That trip was the end.
This person still has standing in our community. Still attends events. Still rubs shoulders with other pro players. His peers and teammates knew this was going on. They knew he was a serial abuser and people turned a blind eye. I was so easily canceled for something that was out of my control, yet so many people (girls and guys) looked over my abuser because of his pro player status. I had told people in private and saw that it had no effect on how they interacted with him, I thought that my voice was irrelevant. Coming out and saying my story would not change anything.
For a long time I questioned my place in gaming, specifically the Halo community. I felt like I never had a place here. I was deemed unworthy of respect with no possibility of upward mobility. I longed for a fresh start and wished I could reinvent myself to escape these perceptions about me. I wanted to be viewed and judged as a player and that's it. I’ve seen so many sexist things on Twitter and thought to myself, “this is a losing battle.” I was conditioned to believe I deserved this type of treatment and to accept it. I will not be tolerant anymore.
I came back to play Halo 5 about 3 years ago. They needed girls for the FPL, I am so happy that I am here, standing alongside all of the strong and brave women in this community. We will leave this a better place than we found it for the younger generation of girls yet to come. You are not the bad person for coming forward, you are incredibly brave. This is not an easy thing to do.
I hope that speaking out about some of the things I’ve been through will cause you to act differently next time you see things like this happening. I urge you all to value members of the community for more than just their skill as players. There should be nothing controversial about treating a woman with dignity or respect. Showing compassion and empathy towards women does not make you a simp. Trust me when I tell you how much it matters to feel like you have an ally.
Start supporting women, now. On public platforms. In private. To your friends. Be a part of the momentum shift. We’re not asking for a lot.