Coming forward to move forward.

victoria mann
Nov 15 · 11 min read

Coming forward to move forward.

Content Warning: Sexual assault, Sexual situations, Violence, Cheating, and Drugs and Alcohol.

This is me coming forward against someone who has hurt me and other women. This is my story.

The first time I met JR was in brief passing at PAX East in Boston, MA. I was 20 and he was 32. At this time I was working my way up in the board game industry. I had a job with an indie publisher. Later that year, we played a game at BGG Con in Dallas, Texas, but the first time I really got to spend time with him was at Unpub in Baltimore, Maryland. I didn’t know he was attending until I saw him. We said hi and played games.

After a while we started talking about relationships and how being lonely hurts sometimes. I mentioned that what I missed most was just cuddling platonically and talking to someone. JR proceeded to ask me if I wanted to go to my room and cuddle, I replied with, “But you are married, is that okay within your relationship?” I was told Yes.

We went to my room because he claimed the people in his room wouldn’t understand. We cuddled for a while and talked about life. He rubbed the inside of my thigh and tried to tickle me. I asked him what he was doing and then he kissed me. I told him he was married, he then told me a sob story about his sexless marriage and how he was with a frigid woman who didn’t want to be touched even casually. He told me he hadn’t had sex in 7 years and couldn’t remember the last time they kissed. I was naive, we talked and eventually he pushed me and persuaded me into having sex with him. This would be the start of a year long affair that he and I had.

As I write this now, his ex wife Amy and I are cool and she has provided guidance for me after everything that has happened. I can’t tell her story, but I have apologized to her for a lot, but mostly for not listening to her after she found out about the affair and tried to warn me about who he truly was.

Often JR and I would share beds or hotel rooms at conventions. He thought I liked rough sex and without my consent he would do things like pull my hair or lightly slap my face. At my first Gen Con we were sharing a room, I was being sassy about something and he slapped me so hard his wedding ring cut my cheek. I didn’t know what had happened or why, so I started crying. He hugged me and told me he was sorry and that he didn’t mean to hit me that hard and was only trying to be playful. I forgave him and chalked it up to an accident.

Later we went to get food with our friend Brian Neff and we met up with Eric Lang. This was one of the few times I had briefly met them both. JR texted during dinner that the light cut on my cheek was hot. It crushed me because he was proud of the mark he had left on me.

After that I told him I didn’t want to have sex for the rest of that trip because I didn’t feel well. He made me feel guilty because it was rare that we were alone together. He touched me while I was asleep that night. I woke up and told him to stop. This would become very common over the time we were together, a total of about a year and 8 months.

He hired me to work for Waitress Games, the company that he is part owner of, that year and was then my boss. His business partner Brian had no idea that JR and I were together. Since we were working together and I worked for him, I felt like I needed to keep him happy even more.

That year JR paid for me to go to Essen, Germany, for the largest board game convention in the world. Two days before we left, his now-ex-wife found out we were having an affair. He told her we wouldn’t be sharing a room in Germany and that he would end things. That was a lie. We stayed in the same room and he would wake me up at 4am so he could Facetime her to show her he was all alone. I would sit in the lobby or outside the door and wait. I worked at a booth at Essen, so I didn’t see him very much except for at night, when he would try to have sex with me and I would say no. He convinced me we would stay together, that I could keep my job, that he wanted a divorce and for us to be together. He told me this repeatedly until we were at the airport for our layover from Essen to DFW. In the airport in Canada he broke up with and fired me. All in the same breath. I was crushed and angry. He said that he couldn’t text me or call me anymore and that he wanted to take a few months to focus on his marriage.

Two weeks later he used the Waitress Games email address to message me. He told me he wanted me and wanted a divorce. I told him I didn’t want to talk to him. He convinced me to hear him out, and after I got back from the Dice Tower Cruise he drove from DFW to Tampa all in one 18 hour drive to profess his love for me. I let this happen, and he got a divorce.

This is the time when his ex-wife messaged me to warn me, but he told me she was angry and that I should take it with a grain of salt. So I did. We had been together in secret for about 9 months now. We drove 18 hours from Florida to Texas for a design retreat he was having. We stayed off site in an AirBnB. This is significant because this is the first time that he covered my face with a pillow until I almost passed out after he touched me in my sleep.When confronted he said he didn’t remember but that he was sorry. He told me he had this problem while he was asleep and that it was a compulsion he couldn’t control. He again cried and told me how sorry he was after. He showered me with love and attention and affection, so again I accepted that he was damaged but that I could help him get better and be a better person. He told me I could and that I was helping to become a better person.

This continued to happen as time went on periodically but I thought it was a disorder I had never heard of, and I loved him so I wanted to be understanding. He called me his manic pixie dream girl and told how much I was helping him. I was manipulated by being told I was helping someone who wasn’t willing to change.

Time passes and we Skype a lot and fight a lot because I felt like I wasn’t a priority. We went on the FireBall Island road trip together, which was 30 days of us driving across the country together. He ignored me a lot, but I got to see the U.S. We were spending a lot of time together so I thought he just needed alone time. One day we stopped for him to do a Secret Cabal event. We checked into the hotel. After I got out of the shower, without warning, he starting having sex with me. This time was the most painful and I bled after the fact. I thought he just thought it was something I was into. I said nothing because I was on a 30 day road trip and he was my boyfriend so surely it was fine. I was so naive. I told him I was hurt and bleeding. He said he was sorry and told me he had to go to the event so I could relax in the hotel. He left me alone for the rest of the night. We finished the road trip with small things happening here and there.

We went to Geek Way to the West as a couple and I got sick. I had a 102 degree fever. I begged him to take me back to a friends house we stayed at, I begged him to let me go sleep, but he said he couldn’t because he was working on play testing. I threw up in bathrooms and hid in dark quiet places.

When we went back I slept for a long time and was heavily medicated. He tried to have sex with me in spite of that and during the middle of it I had an asthma attack and needed an emergency inhaler. He stopped after that but still promised a friend that we would get up early and drive an extra hour so he could teach her middle school class about game design. I begged him not to do it because I was so sick. Friends we were with both told me he treated me like shit. I knew I wasn’t a priority at this point but still kept dating him because I thought I could help him be a better person.

I was no longer working for JR; I had another job now. We skyped every night and texted during the day. I had wanted to live together for a while. I felt like the distance was the reason we were having issues and that communication could solve it.

JR had always told me that he wanted the same things in life as me and as soon as he had money he would buy a house and that we could have children. That is something I desperately wanted. JR was living in St. Louis at the time, he was renting a room from a friend. He told me after a few months of him living there that I should start looking at places for he and I to move into. I was excited. Things seemed to be going well. JR went to Oslo and when he came back to the states we had planned to spend time together in St. Louis. I was going to stay with him for 8 days and then fly home.

Halfway into into my visit, at 1 or 2 in the morning, JR broke up with me. He was sobbing and crying; I felt numb. He didn’t give me a reason other than he needed to work on himself and could not handle being in a relationship. I was devastated, but I understood. I was upset because I felt led on by him having me fly to Saint Louis and spending time looking for places for us to live.

I went to sleep that night and woke up the next day. I cried silently while he worked at his desk the next day and he told me that he thought I should fly home early because the space would be good for us. I cried and begged him to let me stay another day because I didn’t feel like I could walk through the airport without having a breakdown. We slept in the same bed again except I woke up at 3am and was all alone. I was worried, so after 45 minutes, when he didn’t text me back I walked down stairs to find him sitting on the couch talking on the phone to another woman. I asked him who it was and his response was “Part of the reason we broke up is so that I don’t have to tell you anymore.” I spent 300 dollars on a one way flight home the next day.

Once at home I grieved the loss of a long term relationship. I later found out he wanted to be poly with me and the woman on the phone, someone who worked at a board game cafe he went to often. I shut him down and set up boundaries. That I couldn’t do that. That I felt manipulated and like he only wanted me part of the time so that was his plan.

We remained friends until I started dating someone else. After that would tell me the men I was dating would never be as good as him. I felt worthless. After we broke up he started to work for a company I was contracted with even though I asked him not to do that. He said it was because he needed the money but I felt like it was him inserting himself into my life even more.

He told people after a fight I had with a boyfriend that said boyfriend was aggressive and violent towards me. That wasn’t true. All JR knew was that I had an argument and might have needed help to pick up my stuff later.

JR played the victim after our break up telling people how hard it was for him without letting people know that he ended it. He tried to insert himself into my life whenever he could. It was really odd. I told him I never wanted to see him again and to not speak to me after he had spread the story about my boyfriend being aggressive towards me and then lied to me about it.

At Dice Tower Con 2019, JR messaged my mother and asked her if she would be attending the show. My mom said no and asked why. He told her he had something to give me. I couldn’t think of anything he would need to give me, so my friend Maggie said she could get it for me. Maggie and I were at lunch when JR walked up to our table and tried to hand me a baggy full of medication that we both take, a controlled substance that can become addictive if not taken carefully. I never asked for these pills. I told him immediately that I was not taking them and that was illegal and not my prescription. I was a bit shaken up after that. My friends saw it happen and comforted me. I don’t know why he did it, but after all these months I still can’t think of a good reason. With the information I have now part of me wonders if he was just trying to find another way to control me through medication.

He has texted me since and I told him to leave me alone.

I am writing this for a few reasons. First and foremost JR is a predator from my own perspective. I know that he has been getting women drunk and trying to sleep with them and I want people to be aware. I personally know of 4 other women who he has hurt through manipulation. He uses his position in the industry as a tool to lure women towards him. I am over seeing good people try to help him and getting burned in the process. I want this to be a hobby young woman can come into and be safe in. JR is a predator in my opinion.

I am not asking you to hate him or take a side. I want you to read my words and think about how you would feel if someone you loved came to you with this. The people I mentioned in this are all good people who just didn’t know or are stuck in situations. Personally, for a long time I defended JR and I would tell myself it wasn’t that bad and I should avoid causing drama because it could hurt everyone involved. I thought he would change. I don’t fault any of my friends, and I still love them dearly. I will probably lose friends over this and have already lost work. If anyone needs to talk about trauma or are a victim yourself, I am here. I am in therapy and healing. I have a happy relationship now and PAXU will be my first convention since Gen Con because he made me feel unsafe. I am excited to move forward with my life.

If anyone wants to cry about me not having proof, I do. I have screenshots and emails and picture. My trauma isn’t for your entertainment. Unless I see a reason to share I have chosen to keep those private.

victoria mann

Written by

Board Gamer and Paralegal. I am into a bit of everything. This is just an outlet for now.