Speaking Out…

Moses or Mo is her name. She is not “that woman.” She does not consider herself a survivor and prefers not to be seen as a victim. However, she has a story to tell at a time when so many women have courageously stepped forward as part of the #MeToo movement, a movement that encompasses industries and people from around the world. Moses shared her story in an e-mail interview. A minimum of edits and changes have been made to the text.

Trigger Warning: The following contains descriptions of sexual assault and abuse. Please be advised. 

PWP: How did your relationship begin with the individuals at Glory Pro including Michael Elgin and Sean Orleans?

Mo: I was already in a romantic relationship with Elgin when he started Glory Pro. It started in October of the year prior (2016) after meeting at a show and then again (more seriously) when I was in the hospital in January of 2017. Despite what it may seem with the nearly illiterate statements Elgin has released, he was very smooth. Complimentary. Sweet. Offered to take care of me after my surgery. Offering anything I needed, while showing me the kind of influence and power he had. They call this part of abusive behavior “grooming”.

PWP: Even though the Elgin situation is the one that has made the mainstream wrestling media, Sean Orleans (a relatively new wrestler in the St. Louis area) is the one who you have said assaulted you. What was your relationship like with him to start, and how did it deteriorate? 

Mo: Orleans had been good friends with my ex-husband through the STLGAA (St. Louis Gaelic Athletic Association). So I knew him casually before wrestling. We had been friends for awhile. We casually slept together *maybe* 3-4 times in the year before the sexual assault. He became a confidant of mine. He was a close friend. But there was never any sort of romantic aspect to the relationship. Prior to the assault, I hadn’t seen Orleans for more than a couple minutes at a show since Nov/Dec 2016. It had been several months since we had any type of physical contact, but we still talked. As friends only. He knew about my relationship with Elgin. He asked to come over that night, March 22nd, and I told him not to. I didn’t want any company. I had been sick all day. Not showered, gotten out of bed, brushed my teeth, eaten. I didn’t want company. He insisted several times before I relented, after he said he’d bring me pizza and a Gatorade. Stating that he was only allowed to come over with the understanding that I did NOT want to be looked at, talked to, touched. I just wanted pizza.

*The following paragraph contains descriptions of sexual assault and abuse.* Within 5 mins of his arrival he had started trying to kiss me. I told him to stop. Then he was on top of me, my wrists and knees pinned. Me telling him “No, Stop, This isn’t going to happen”. I got a hand free when he let go to pull my underwear down, and I was able to push him off of me. I told him to get the fuck out of my house. That was the last time we had any personal interaction.

Several days later, I went to a wrestling event and saw him wrestle. I was angry, reactionary, suffering from PTSD (I didn’t know this at the time). I sent him a message attempting to correlate my power over his reputation with the power he had had over my body. The fear of not knowing how far he was going to take it. I apologized for the message immediately, stating that no one deserves to know that kind of fear. Not even him.

I didn’t speak to him at all after that. No contact. No attempts at contact. Only seeing him at wrestling events, where I would get up and leave during his matches (can be verified watching any Glory Pro tapes.

PWP: One of the most common questions naysayers ask is “Why not just go to the police?” Did you feel this was ever an option for you? 

Mo: At the time of the assault I was working as a Crisis Intervention Specialist at a Domestic Violence Shelter/Rape Crisis Center (a job I lost due to repeated triggering because of my own trauma). I have been involved in the fight against domestic and sexual violence my entire life. I am very well versed in the statistic probability of a case like mine being brought to charges, let alone a conviction. The thought of being dragged through the mud and having my most personal trauma scrutinized by men I had worked with previously, knowing that it would get nothing accomplished, made me physically exhausted and ill. Additionally, filing charges against an abuser will often times cause them to retaliate. And when charges/conviction are not likely, the risk of retaliation isn’t worth taking. I also thought I had Elgin on my side, who would hold Orleans accountable in his own community. Obviously, I overestimated Elgin.

PWP: Based on what is out there, it seems as though you had a continuing relationship with Elgin even after the Orleans relationship ended. Why did you maintain that relationship, and how would you characterize his behavior up until the time Orleans’ assault allegations became public? 

Mo: I did have a continuing relationship with Elgin. There’s a process that men like him use on vulnerable women. Part of the grooming process. Convincing me that no one else cared about me. Convincing me that I was crazy. Convincing me that he was the only one who could help me. The only one who would be kind to me, nice to me. And it had proven true, with no other wrestlers in the St. Louis area giving me any kind of support. It was only later that I found out that Elgin had been discrediting me and telling other wrestlers not to have contact with me. That I was dangerous. He would tell me that he was the only one who would help me, but when the aspect of ACTUALLY helping me came up, he was horrible. Mocking me. Calling me crazy. A drama queen. threatening me with restraining orders if I didn’t comply. Repeatedly stating that he was the only one with power. He’d tell me things like, ‘who else matters here? who else can make anything happen in St. Louis? No one.’ Then within a week or so he’d be texting me as sweet as the first day we spoke. But if I ever brought up Orleans, it would turn again. He had gotten me a hotel room in late September or early October. A type of birthday present. I tried to put off seeing him. I was scared. I told him I was terrified of him. He showed up anyway. I told him again I was scared of him. He laughed at me. Then we did whatever he wanted. I started seeing a friend of his and cut off any form of physicality between us. A week later, I gave him a ride home from the airport. When we arrived at his home, he begged me to come inside to have sex with him. His home. While I was seeing a friend of his, which he knew. He told me that obviously I had never cared about him. That I had never wanted him. That I was disgusted by him if I didn’t want to have sex with him in his home, right then. I left.

PWP: Why did you think it was important to make some messages you and Elgin shared public? 

Mo: I had tried for months to convince anyone of what I was going through with him. He discredited me at every turn. I had spoken to a popular reputable journalist who had claimed he wanted to expose sexual assault in wrestling. I shared my story with him. He disappeared afterward. Several days later Elgin tweeted that he had a great time seeing his good buddy, [said journalist]. I knew at that point I was going to have to do it myself. But I wasn’t convinced I could or that I wanted to. After Orleans was fired, I told him that I was done protecting him. He knew I had all of our conversations. I promised to keep them private if he ensured proper conduct of ALL wrestlers he employed, trained, and ceased any contact with anyone other than his wife. That was when he tweeted support of me publicly. A couple days later VicVenomBytes released the messages between he and Elgin and I knew that he had no intention of changing his behavior. That’s when I started releasing the conversations.

As for the Jeff Cobb texts, people argue I did that for attention. OF COURSE I DID. I tweeted out his reprehensible behavior toward someone that the wrestling community actually cared about. Because I had been shown that his behavior toward me wasn’t going to be taken seriously. I didn’t set up that conversation. It was completely genuine. It was abhorrent and abusive. And it got people’s attention. Which I never would have gotten any other way. I know a lot of people take issue with this. But these are the same people who ignored everything I had said up until then.

When one considers how much I HAVEN’T shared, and the content of that which I haven’t shared, it’s difficult to be angry about what I have shared.

PWP: I’m not sure how much you can say about the legal situation surrounding this now, but how did this become a situation where a lawyer became involved?

Mo: Elgin’s lawyer is his business partner and has owned a portion of Glory Pro, been a sponsor of Glory Pro since the beginning. Any mention of a lawyer started with Elgin.

As for Orleans, I was served an order of protection in December. Orleans stated that he was afraid for his safety and wished to prohibit me from “referring to [Orleans] directly or indirectly in any manner”. This is NOT what Orders of Protection are for. This was his own stipulation. Literally using this as a legal maneuver to silence me. He lost. Quickly.

PWP: Do you think Elgin took advantage of his position in wrestling to try and control the situation?

Mo: Read any of the above and it’s obvious he did. Proudly so.

PWP: In your opinion, is wrestling built to foster this kind of behavior, or does wrestling attract these kinds of individuals? 

Mo: Wrestling is built on a foundation of loyalty. Loyalty to the promotion that brought you up. To the trainer that got you where you are. To the boys club who brings you into their community and helps you out. It’s nearly impossible to speak out against the boys club mentality. I had many wrestlers who voiced support before this went insane, but were afraid to stand up to Elgin because of how they would be treated/lose bookings. Look at any of the classics in the business and how they treated and regarded women. Hogan, Flair. Women were/are objects. That mentality is expected to continue, because standing up against it will literally cost you. Ian Rotten worded it best when he said that ring rats are needed in the business but that they need to know their place. It’s bros before hoes. Rotten controls the financial viability of indie wrestlers who already get paid like shit. Who is going to risk their food money for this?

PWP: You referenced Ian Rotten, and I’m wondering how you felt about his comments after attending an IWA show a week earlier.

 

Mo: The comments Rotten made are no surprise. When I showed up to IWA, he stated “You must be the hot chick I was told was coming”. He’s got a legion of loyal followers that is smaller by the day, simply because he’s an asshole.

 

There are fans there at IWA, and a few workers who made me feel at home. It was a great time. But a lot of those same people jumped ship when Rotten said what he did. Each promotion, especially the small grassroots promotion, is a family. And I was an outsider criticizing their leader. So whether or not they agreed with my criticism, I was shut out. That’s why it’s so important for people to hold their own accountable. Their friends, their colleagues, their mentors, their fans.

 

PWP: Michael Elgin is going to continue to get bookings, particularly New Japan which seemed more concerned about the Jeff Cobb comments, and IWA-MS. What obligations do other wrestlers have in regards to being booked on shows with Elgin? 

 

Mo: I understand the guys who are local to the IWA circuit and are regulars there not quitting. But the guys traveling in, making appearances, fighting for title shots… they draw in new fans. I mean, I went to IWA to see a specific wrestler. And what they’re doing by wrestling on the same card as Elgin, or with a company that continues to book him, is asking their fans (particularly their female fans) to put themselves in the presence of a man who has proven to have an active disregard for their safety and well-being.

 

The only way this changes is by holding these men accountable. The fans can only do so much. It’s the talent/their peers that have the platform to make the most change. They just have to be willing to do it.

PWP: There is a huge movement going on now in almost every industry across entitled #MeToo. What advice do you have for future survivors/victims who choose to speak out?

Mo: To the women who haven’t spoken out… Do NOT let anyone dictate whether or not you should speak. Outing these men is dangerous. It can detrimental to your health and wellbeing. There are possibilities that you’ll be threatened, humiliated, and retaliated against if you do speak out. And there is zero shame in self-preservation when it comes to deciding how to deal with your own trauma. It is your decisions and yours alone.

That being said, we are reaching the best possible time to come out with these stories due to the vocal allies in the community. I have found amazing friends, supporters, and also catharsis in coming forward. And I’m continuing to be so open and forward with it so that people who haven’t dealt with trauma can see how difficult it is. And so that those who are silent know that I’m not going to stop. I’m fighting this for myself, but moreso for the women who can’t fight. Their trauma is just as important as mine, regardless if they speak or not.

PWP: Do you have any regrets about how you’ve handled this situation? 

Mo: I let the stress and anxiety of it bleed out into other relationships.

And more than anything, I wish I had done it sooner. Which isn’t so much a regret as it is an acknowledgement of the strength I didn’t know I had at the time.

PWP: Has this situation changed how you feel about those in the wrestling community or the fans? 

Mo: I still love wrestling. It’s art. It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It’s what I love. I won’t let the assholes change that. I’ll simply be more careful who I share my life with.

It has made me love the fans more than I can ever express. They’ve kept me alive. They’ve kept me going. And THEY have been the ones who shared this story to the point that things are getting done. They won’t let it go. And I fully believe that they won’t forget. I thank the powers that be for wrestling twitter everyday. Even when it’s a pain in my fucking ass.

PWP: You mentioned a journalist earlier on asking about your situation before disappearing and then subsequently hanging out with Elgin at a show. Have any other journalists e-mailed you, particularly those from the Wrestling Observer, Pro Wrestling Torch, or PWInsider? What responsibilities do the wrestling media have in covering this situation and addressing the #MeToo movement? 

 

Mo: I’ve been contacted by quite a few podcasters, some smaller publications. But the major publications, the journalists with the most influence, have not contacted me at all. Despite continuing to cover the story.

Meltzer specifically has covered the story multiple times, with an astounding amount of errors, inaccurate accusations against me, without having contacted me at all. He went so far as to state my screenshots had been heavily doctored. A claim that even Elgin hasn’t made, now finally admitting he DID say those things in that context.

 

Ryan Satin posted about Elgin’s apology to Cobb, with a quick link at bottom to show the rest of Elgin’s statement.

 

Wrestling media has really… they’ve dropped the ball here. Refused to risk anything to publish the story. I had done an interview with one publication, but was told they were pulling out when Meltzer made his claims about my texts being doctored. For fear of legal repercussions if it was true. A slap in the face. Reinforcing that I wasn’t to be believed.

So many people are still asking what Elgin has done, and are met with “google it”. If you google “Michael Elgin” the first thing that comes up is PWsheets blurb about his apology for the Jeff Cobb comments. No mention of his abusive behavior, of my sexual assault.

 

It’s disappointing. It feels complicit in letting this behavior continue.

 

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