It’s not about sex. It is about violence, sexual violence an adult inflicted on a kid.

Content Note: sexual assault, child abuse,

When news broke that yet another famous entitled man was engaged in sexually violating a child, in this case a 13-year-old girl, I felt nothing. Just empty resignation and quiet despair.

Pirates pitcher Felipe Vazquez on Tuesday admitted to police that he attempted to have sex with a 13-year-old girl, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday in Westmoreland County.

The incident happened in August 2017, according to the complaint. The girl told police that Mr. Vazquez drove his red Mustang to her house in Scottdale and that she met him at the end of her driveway.

She said she got into the passenger side and said Mr. Vazquez pulled her onto his lap in the driver’s side of the car, removed her pants and put part of his penis in her vagina, the complaint said.

I’ve been just seething since first reading the story because I’ve been here before. I know that people who love baseball will find ways to rationalize this scenario, just like people who love football rationalize Ben Roethlisberger’s predation and sexual violence.

And why should sports fan be any different from the Catholic Church, the public schools, the hundreds of people employed by Jeffrey Epstein, the Boy Scouts, the family members – why would we expect Pittsburgh’s sports community to be different from most people who turn a blind eye to sexual violence targeting children?

One of the saddest things is when someone uses their own experiences as a victim to defend their support of these predators. I saw that all over social media yesterday, the implication that if you’ve been raped yourself, you have some sort of special ability to absolve some perpetrators and not others? That’s achingly sad and quite dangerous.

I suspect it is simply a maladaptive coping mechanism. We tell ourselves we are healed and so we are obligated to forgive or overlook or explain away, especially when the predator’s behavior threatens something that brings us joy. The threat to us always trumps the welfare of survivors of any age.

I don’t really know and I do not want to try to figure it out. I just want to walk away quickly from these folks because they, like most deniers, are still ultimately hurting innocent people. Their inaction or denial creates the perfect environment for this violent legacy to continue.

It isn’t actually hard to remain a Pirates fan while soundly condemning sexual violence against children. Take the side of the survivors and let the damn predator fend for himself. To do otherwise, to try to rehabilitate him in some imaginary reality, is not where your resources should go. There are plenty of people creating safe havens for predators – just look at the Supreme Court, the White House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc. Leverage your fandom for victims and survivors, not predators. Hold the league accountable.

Same holds true for the NFL, NHL, etc. You can’t be a fan of Roethlisberger. If you are, you are no friend of mine.

Another thing that comes with these disclosures is a horrifying array of media missteps. This isn’t a story about sex with a child, a sexual relationship, or sex at all. It’s not about sex. It is about violence, sexual violence an adult inflicted on a kid.

An adult abused a child for three years. He committed violent nonconsensual violations of a 13-year-old girl for his own pleasure. It is exhausting to keep having this conversation. It is exhausting to tune out of the media while they stumble through these stories time and time again.

This is why I don’t follow many local journalists on Twitter. I simply use a Twitter list to merge them into one big stream of information I can access at will. Like turning off the radio when Wendy Bell starts talking.

It is incredibly hard to be a survivor of sexual violence in this environment. These stories chase you all over the place – the TV news, newspapers, national media, social media, etc. Layer in the apologists and deniers on top of the other survivors who make it a competition and it is just so damn hard.

I’m not interested in competing about whose abuse was worse. I’m interested in spending time with people who support survivors and comfort us. The nature of abuse is poisonous and turns people against one another precisely because it is so deeply embedded in our society and honesty forces us to acknowledge our complicity. No one wants to do that, yet it is the very thing we need most to do.

I’m not trying to pin anyone specifically down, I’m trying to pin everyone down. Your actions are hurting me and so many others who have no forum to speak out. You can all do better. We can all do better. But until we are willing to let go and listen to the pain echoing through our society, we’ll keep having this conversation.