I am very stoked to announce that we are welcoming Candy Dungan to the team as our first official Team Rider! Candy is from Colorado, and after following her on social media for a long time and eventually meeting, I saw what a great addition she could be to the team, as we are working to branching out to survivors of sexual assault. I hope that through our partnership we will able to continue to branch out and help more and more people with their challenges through skateboarding and other healthy coping mechanisms.
Candy is also currently working on raising funds so that she can travel the world to race. We're doing all we can to support her, and if you have any money that you feel you can donate to help this great person compete in the 2017 IDF Series, head over to https://www.darkhorsepros.com/campaigns/194 .
- Candy's Story -
When Beau approached me about joining SkateToFight, I thought there couldn’t be a more perfect union. My life’s goal is to empower women - specifically those who have experienced sexual assault. However, I don’t think I can successfully and honestly write about sexual assault and skateboarding without first sharing my own story.
SkateToFight’s message that skateboarding can help those with depression, mental illness, or suffering from sexual assault has been the overlying theme of my life since the first time I stepped on a longboard. Below, you will find my story of how skateboarding helped me 1. find my power again, 2. understand and accept my feelings, 3. cope while going though difficult times, and 4. heal by giving me a way to make a difference in the lives of other women.
So, let’s jump right in.
In July of 2009 I was raped at my high school graduation party by someone I had considered a friend. I blamed myself for being raped... I thought I should have pushed him off harder, and I should have screamed louder. Experts call that “victim-blaming,” and it’s actually quite common. A month later, I found out I was pregnant. My daughter's name is Mona, and she was born on April 15, 2010.
Skip forward to May 2012. I borrowed my friend's longboard to skate around the block, and I fell in love. I bought a $70 no-name complete from ebay that day, and I spent the next 6 months skating almost every day and night. I’d skate to and from my college classes during the day. At night, I’d put my daughter to bed, thank my mother for staying in, and head downtown to skate garages and lit streets till 2 or 3 am.
Skip forward to August 2015 at Central Mass Skate Festival. I had just won 2nd place at my first big race. I beat out many seasoned female competitors, and Emily Pross had complemented me on my skating. I couldn't have been more excited! So when it came to party, that's exactly what I did.
I was playing pool when a fellow skater started hitting on me. He was whispering in my ear and running his hand down my back. I was definitely uncomfortable, but I was nice because I had always been told that's what you do. "It's a compliment, you should be thankful that they're hitting on you/grabbing your ass/etc."
So, when he grabbed my ass, all I did was walk away.
Thankfully, one of my friends saw it. He stood up for me, as did a few other skaters. That's when it hit me - It's not okay.
It's not okay for someone to grab my ass without my permission. It's not okay for someone to sexualize or objectify me. It's not okay for someone to make me feel like the way I look defines who I am. BUT, it is okay for me to stand up for myself, and others, when things make me feel uncomfortable. It was as if a switch had been turned on. I went from living a blind life to feeling completely awakened.
I spent the next 8 months exploring sexual assault, my past, and how it made me feel. I started dating someone new (a skater), who made me feel so loved, respected, and equal. He showed me what a relationship and sex is supposed to be like. For the first time, I fully accepted that I had been raped, that it was wrong, and that it wasn't my fault.
Flash forward to March 2016. There's a nasty custody case going on between my daughter's father (my rapist), my mother, and myself. I felt this was my fault. If I would've had the strength and understanding to report being raped right after it happened, then my daughter wouldn't be going through this now.
It was about that time I came across something on the internet about the statue of limitations being 7 years. It had been 6.5 years since Mona's father raped me. So, I decided to report it for my own peace of mind. I thought, "I couldn't do it then, but I can do it now."
I didn't plan on pressing charges, but, when I went to report it, the police officer encouraged me to see it through. So, that's exactly what I did.
About a month later, I received a phone call from my mom. The detective and two cops had shown up to arrest me. I was being charged with false accusations.
Long term, the next five months were the hardest of my life. I finally had the strength to report my rape, but I was being persecuted for doing so. I was looking at up to 6 months jail time if found guilty, and - worst of all - my rapist was going to testify against me.
It was during this time that I raced the IDF NorAm circuit. Being able to get out, race, travel, and just skate all the time, was heaven sent. I don't think I could’ve made it through this period without skateboarding. I needed that opportunity to get out of my head, take my mind off the trauma, and just skate.
In August 2016, I saw a forensic psychologist as well as a therapist I had seen once in 2010. Both the psychologist and therapist supported me and my story, so in September of 2016 (one week before my scheduled trial date) the prosecution dropped the charges against me. I was a free woman.
There's only one way to describe how I felt when this happened - like someone who’d been beat, robbed, and left on the side of the road. I was happy it was over, but that didn't help ease the emotional pain and financial burden I had been through.
It's been three months now, and there's only two things that have helped me heal; 1. the empowerment that I personally get from skating big roads with advanced riders, and 2. helping other women find their own self-power and healing through skateboarding.
To help other women, I started the Rad Girls Krew back up. RGK Is a group for Colorado women with an interest in skateboarding. In the matter of months, RGK has grown from about 4 to 20 members. Some of the girls are already skating advanced roads, sponsored by brands, and bringing up their own girls. Being able to make a difference, and visibly seeing the results, has expedited my healing process.
I would’ve never thought I could pick myself up so fast - but, I didn't really pick myself up. Skateboarding picked me up, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Headshot by Keala Reeverts
Photos #3 and 4 by Peter Jones