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Published on August 10th, 2011 | by DerbyLife

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The Sister System: Pack Strategy For The Afterparty and Beyond

2010 was been a record year in roller derby for so many great reasons. Unfortunately, it was also a record year for assaults and attempted assaults on skaters and staff. So many of us in derby feel empowered and strong – some of us even have self-defense or military backgrounds. Sometimes our individual and collective strength and power leaves us feeling a false sense of security. Any of us can be a target when we are stragglers.

Attacks on skaters this year have included the parking lots of practice spaces, afterparties, hotels, and events like tournaments or travel bouts. Some have even occurred at skaters’ homes. The two things many of these incidents have in common are that the skater was alone, and sometimes, intoxicated. We may not be using our best judgment at last call.

Teams who are travelling together are usually expert at making sure their whole crew is accounted for as they move from venue to venue in their travels. However, at events like tournament afterparties, many staffers and skaters who are attending as fans are unaccounted for by a team. We like to drink. We go home or back to our hotels late. Sometimes we are in a small and seemingly safe city or town, and we don’t think we need an escort.

As a community, let’s start being accountable for each other. We travel to the afterparty in a pack – make sure no one goes home alone. At the beginning of the night, let’s assign ourselves partners or groups, and vow to keep track of each other, or report to each other if we’re leaving early. When the party breaks up, it is important to make sure people walk or ride back to hotel or home with someone. Assigning a sister for an escort isn’t the end of the job. One attempted attack this year involved a lone skater being followed off of an elevator to her room in a hotel. We also have to make sure our sister makes it through the door safely.

At practice, have someone watch people coming in and out so no one is outside alone before and after practices. An increasing number of leagues have their own practice spaces in a building or warehouse. Many of these spaces are in isolated industrial areas where there are few people around at night. If you are the first to arrive, or the last to lock up, have a safety plan for an emergency, and some way to alert someone that you are unsafe. If possible, have doors to your practice space locked once everyone has arrived, when your space doesn’t have a staff or security.

Make friends with the police and firefighters nearest to the area of your practice space. Talk to them about skater assaults, and welcome them to check on you and your parking area when they’re both on and off-duty. If your practice space does have a staff, make them aware of assaults on skaters and ask them to keep an eye on the parking area and entrances.

Talk to your league and it’s staff about this issue. Our community needs to spread this dialogue far and wide to prevent tragedy. Pack it up!

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