I recently posted something about this on Facebook. I received a lot of responses, while at the same time I was disappointed at the lack of responses from people who knew what I went through. Here is basically what I posted with some edits and additions.
Bullying in roller derby... it's a serious issue that leagues and WFTDA seem completely uninterested/unwilling to address.
I went through some serious shit during my time playing roller derby for two different WFTDA leagues. There were actual threats to my safety (skaters who expressed their intention to hurt me at practice), skaters who worked to get me removed from a team or roster solely because they disliked me, doxxing by a WFTDA officer (which WFTDA did nothing about, despite the grievance I filed), lies spread about me without my teammates or coaches bothering to come to me for my side of things, and emotional abuse and gas-lighting by coaches and teammates - just to give you the highlights of what I personally experienced.
In all that time, only one person EVER apologized to me for their behavior. That's how normal and accepted bullying is in derby culture.
The sad reality is I actually saw/heard worse things happen to other skaters. While part of me wants to tell their stories, I know that's not my place. Some of those people still want to be involved, and calling out their problems with bullying could jeopardize that.
I've noticed that some of the biggest bullies are often among the most popular people in the league. Their position of power/authority/popularity means people rarely believe or want to acknowledge their less positive behavior.
I've also noticed the fact that not all people have the same experience in derby leads some to think that bullying isn't happening. I guarantee you that it is. Bullying culture is pervasive in roller derby. You can be a member of the Fluffy Kittens and Love League, and there will still be significant bullying. Until that fact is acknowledged and people who try to speak up are not punished for doing so, nothing will change.
I've also noticed that some people want to deny that bullying is happening, because they love roller derby and their league. They feel like somehow acknowledging anything negative will mean they are not being loyal. Or maybe they're afraid that if they speak up, they will be punished for doing so (and believe me, that absolutely happens).
The simple fact is that ignoring the problem will not make it go away. The issue needs to be brought to light, talked about, and dealt with. I don't have any easy solutions, because this is a complex, nuanced problem.