Sexual Violence in the Break Dance Community and its Impact on the 2024 Olympics

Updated: Apr 5


Trigger warning: rape, sexual assault, blood.

pseudonyms*: Some names have been changed to protect privacy


On June 3, 2011, I was raped by Jonathan Escotto (A.K.A. B-boy Xcel) of USA Breakin. It took me a long time to grapple with the events that occurred that night, but I have finally found my voice.

I am a female break-dancer in a male-dominated sport, Breakin (also known as Breakdancing) – a sport that has gained international attention and will be included in the Olympic Games for the first time in 2024. It’s an unfortunate but true fact that women are frequently sexually harassed and abused by men in sports. Sadly, the Olympic games is no exception to this.

There isn’t a single sport that is free of sexual predators. We see examples of this with the allegations against the USA gymnastics national team physician, Larry Nassar, who was also the medical coordinator for USAG at several Olympic Games. He was accused by 130+ women of sexual assault and was sentenced to 175 years in prison. (NBC News).

More than 290 coaches and officials that are associated with United States national sports organizations have also been accused of sexual violence since 1982, many of which have never faced any kind of punishment. (Chicago Tribune).

More recently, a prominent figure in the breaking community, Crazy Legs from the Rock Steady Cru, was accused of using his position to pressure women for sexual favors, as well as share unsolicited pictures of his genitalia for over 20 years. Now that breaking has officially been recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), we have the protection of SafeSport, which was designed to protect members of US national sports organizations (NSO) from abusers like Crazy Legs and Jonathan Escotto.

Many women in the breaking community are afraid to come forward about the abuse that they’ve experienced due to the backlash they are likely to face. This is especially true when their abuser is a prominent figure or someone that they cannot avoid - such as a coach, a judge, or a fellow dancer. Unfortunately, there are many abusers that will use the breakin community to act without consequence, since it is common for talented or successful dancers to not be held accountable due to their skill level and support. I understand the women in these positions and hope that one day, they will find their voice as I have.

More importantly, however, I hope that the organizations that employ or have employed abusers will do the right thing by listening to victims and taking the appropriate action.

The Protection of SafeSport

SafeSport is an organization that the US Olympic Committee has partnered with to “recognize, reduce and respond to misconduct in sport.” SafeSport aims to respond to the following types of misconduct:

  • Bullying

  • Harassment

  • Hazing

  • Emotional Misconduct

  • Physical Misconduct

  • Sexual Misconduct, including Child Sexual Abuse

Since USA Breaking falls under the jurisdiction of SafeSport, we finally have the opportunity to make the powers that be aware of abusers in our community so they can be held accountable for their actions - not make excuses and repeatedly get away with abhorrent behavior.

We can no longer allow abusers to slink away into the shadows after coming into our lives and wreaking havoc. These perpetrators do not deserve to live comfortably in their lack of shame. It’s time for us – the survivors – to rise up and shine a bright light on their actions so SafeSport can remove them from their positions on the USA Breaking Committee. Most women in the breaking community do not feel comfortable coming forth about their abusers, just as the young athletes on the USA Gymnastics team did not. We can only begin to heal when we come together and gather the courage to speak up.

Together, we can do it.

How? By sharing our stories, utilizing the resources that are available to us, and knowing how we can protect ourselves from harm.