*Names have been redacted for safety concerns. Please respect anonymity when disclosing information from testimonials. Do not add to harm by outing survivors.
Diego sexually assaults his partners and violated multiple safer sex agreements.
He attempted to sexually coerce me into situations I did not consent to or had any prior knowledge of. He then fought me on it after I had said “no,” claiming I was “over-possessive.” When you fight someone after they say no, then you don’t get or do consent. Point blank.
He continued having sex with me after I visibly dissociated (I was triggered and began crying) one night, and said the next day, “you’re not gonna cry again, right?” This was early in our “relationship” and my mortified response was to not address this massive violation of my boundaries.
He told me he only engaged in sexual relationships with women he works on projects with, and when the project is over he likely won’t have time to see them anymore.
On multiple occasions Diego pressured me into having sex late at night when I was nearly asleep. Although I told him I didn’t want to, I was so exhausted by his pressure and so worried his sexual dissatisfaction would lead him to sleep with other people that I gave into his coercion. He had sex with me multiple times while I was semi-conscious and trying to sleep. These experiences were humiliating and degrading.
I sometimes woke up to find Diego masturbating himself while touching me and/or rubbing up against me. This occurred without discussion and without my consent.
We agreed to get tested every three months multiple times. He went nine months without getting tested, the better part of our relationship (1 year) and excused it because “this was (his) most ‘monogamist’ year as (he) spent it with only (me) and people (he) knows who are safe themselves, so felt confident in (his) behavior.”
He then used the excuse that he was “in jail too long” after he came back from Standing Rock the first time so missed his appointment. For an additional 5 months, he did not get tested. He was not in jail for 5 months and was with new partners saying “I just got tested, I don’t do monogamy, I’m a very private person, the work always comes first, I respect you.” If the foundation is a lie, what are the rest of his words based on?
Diego failed to use protection during sex, which resulted in the use of a morning after pill. He avoided any emotional attachment or responsibility, regardless of the emotional and physical distress it caused. He also dodged paying for his half ($25). He used excuse after excuse even when I begged him to come help me through the aftermath.
Diego lied to me, saying he was using protection with other partners. He was not. All us women have now spoken to each other. He was sleeping with all of us at the same time without using protection and lying to all us. He put all of our health at risk.
Diego did not disclose risk factors, did not notify past partners and continued having unprotected sex with multiple new partners.
Diego is verbally and emotionally abusive and controlling.
He would frequently verbally put me down, usually saying things such as “you are not special, I do not care if I see you tomorrow or not” or that “if you keep bugging me about this, I’m not going to want anything with you” and “you know, I wanted to be with her, I just thought you were kinda cool.” When I brought up that this type of disparaging language is hurtful, it was turned around on me for having too high of expectations out of our “situation.”
After I ended things with him, his patronizing excuse for being verbally and emotionally abusive was that he had to because I was not listening to him about what he wanted, and that he was attempting “to guide (me) in a different direction from where (he) saw we were going; (he) think(s) it was around this time that (I) was probably not listening to (his) boundaries or to (my)self about what (I) wanted or needed.” I repeatedly stated that my understanding of what he wanted was to have multiple relationships without the accountability to those he is in “special friendships” with, to coast and survive off of the womxn he sleeps with and cross their boundaries every time it is not convenient for him.
In his attempts to coerce, he weaponized social media by posting suggestive but generic poetry appearing to be written for one person, while using language vague enough that it could be directed at any/all of us.
Diego criticized me and my work to the point I felt broken down and worthless. He often told me: “You are not special,” “You don’t matter to me or to the universe,” and “If you keep doing X or Y, no one will ever love you.”
He became upset and aggressive any time he would find out I spoke to other people about our “situation.” He would frequently wield “privacy” to control the narrative of our relationship, saying things like “keep my name out of your mouth.” When I would bring this up as problematic and that he only cares about his reputation instead of being a good friend or comrade, he would dismiss me entirely.
He told me not to talk about our relationship with other people, claiming it would hurt the movement. I grew isolated and had trouble assessing his abusive behavior because I had no outside perspectives.
He blamed me for feeling unloved or hurt, saying it was a result of my depression and/or any other mental health issues.
Diego accused me of being crazy. I’m not.
Most of our arguments were derailments and projections as to how I brought up concerns instead of dealing with my actual concerns. Once I was able to clearly articulate that he was using manipulation to get out of hearing my concerns, he would downplay it: “oh i think you’re going too hard on us. It’s okay I didn’t get tested right away.” Again I reiterate he went 9 months without getting tested, after I explicitly asked him to on several occasions.
Diego uses politics and the movements in order to excuse unloving, abusive and disresepctful behavior:
When we lived together, every time I returned home I never knew whether he would hug me or be cold to me, and I always had fear associated with him.
Diego would disregard my requests for us to spend nearly any time alone together by saying it “wasn’t strategic.”
He was incredibly dismissive and disrespectful of me when I discussed issues of climate change and native rights. Once he told me I was like “Sandra Bullock. . . you know, that white woman in that movie ‘The Blind Side.’” (note: that movie is a true story about a white woman who takes in a Black young man and “helps” him become a football star. It is a typical Hollywood movie with a white savior hero character). He barely knew me at the time. Since then, two of the main issues that Diego organizes around are climate change and native rights.
Diego refuses to respect boundaries.
Diego used politics to justify his attempts to isolate me and to keep me from removing him from my life. He’d demand I not discuss our relationship with any of my friends. He repeatedly said that if we were to break up, we would be would letting down the movement and people who were relying on us.
The second and last time I managed to call it quits, I was still unsure of how I wanted to move forward. My concern at that point was repressing my own trauma for “the sake of the work.” I had spent a year with this man telling myself I was too much, wanted more than what he was comfortable sharing, and that of course the movement comes first, despite everything I knew and everything my friends were telling me. I received a check in email from him that I did not respond to right away as I was trying to break my own patterns of going back to a toxic relationship with an emotional abuser. I received a follow up email that night from him. The following day I responded cordially that I did not wish to speak casually until we addressed problematic behaviors; his response was that because I know the language better and that because I thought I was more hurt, I would just end up hurting him “but sure yeah, I’ll listen to you.” During our relationship, he frequently accused me of using my knowledge of “radical” language to manipulate him. Yes, I called him a misogynist and a liberal; no, that is not me manipulating radical language to hold him accountable.
I did not respond to his email, but then received a song he had written and the following day a text that he was a block away working on that song thinking about me and “yes, let’s be honest, let’s talk.” I was clear with him that, “I do not wish to speak casually with you until we address problematic behaviors.” But that did not stop him from trying to slime his way back in with a song and a creepy stalky text.
When Diego and I did spend time together, he used me (and other women) for convenient places to setup and work, taking conference calls or online meetings in my personal space and leaving me to wait around til he was finished.
Diego weaponizes consent and nontraditional relationships.
I first met Diego in January of 2016. We started dating shortly after and spoke about the possibilities of an open relationship with myself and a former longterm partner of his. That conversation lasted for a couple of months (we were both still getting to know each other and trying to figure out a respectful, honest way of practicing polyamory). His former partner and I both repeatedly expressed to him feeling uncomfortable about being rushed into something without having boundaries and guidelines down first; he would always respond by saying, “you guys work it out and I’ll adhere to what you say.” We also met up to talk about it one-on-one, both expressing our unease but being willing to work it out understanding that she and I could have our own friendship and go to each other if we ever felt the need to. We both stated not wanting to center a man in our relationship to each other. The very next day after meeting each other, we shared space at an event at Diego’s request. That did not feel good to either one of us, not because we harbored any jealousy toward the other, but because our supposed partner in this was not listening to either of us about not wanting to rush to share space. That should have been warning sign # 1.
He has a nonconsensual understanding of nonmonogamy. “Friends who cuddle and discuss hard ideas” is not a set relationship and one I was never comfortable being in without having set boundaries and agreements. We never got down a better set of agreements and the most basic boundary I set for myself was around sexual safety, which he violated repeatedly for the majority of our relationship. Warning sign #2 should have been his understanding of polyamory that just allows the patriarch to hold power in a relationship.
We often fought about how I never felt comfortable being in any sort of long-term relationship without being transparent about other partners. His response was always “my business is private and you don’t need to know,” and would frequently shame me for wanting more or not “being down enough.” Apparently keeping me in the shadows about multiple relationships going at the same time was “not my business” despite the fact that I had always stated I wanted transparency, specifically if I share space with his other partners. After some time, it became clear that Diego had multiple relationships with people that we were heavily organizing with. Once I confronted him on it, he could not look me in the eye, neither confirm or deny.
He deliberately tries to stir up jealousy, i.e., bringing other partners around at inappropriate times, openly picking up phone numbers of other girls, lying about who he was or wasn’t in a relationship with, etc.
Diego is unsupportive of partners in efforts to avoid pregnancy.
He used “the movement” to get out of abortion support for my follow-up appointment (while he was physically present during the actual abortion procedure, he bounced on the emotional aftermath and continued pain I felt months after the abortion, and excused it because “we aren’t a couple”). He got upset when my friend showed up to pick me up for the follow-up appointment, as if I was manipulating him by “throwing it in (his) face”, at a Copwatch mural unveiling. I still don’t know what I was throwing in his face except that I have supportive friends. My only thought was that because it was my male friend who he couldn’t get a clear read on our relationship and so never liked him. The raw irony is that he frequently made claims to me being over possessive or jealous.
I was still in a lot of pain months after the abortion. Once, when he brought me pain medications, he brought a random woman to my house without asking in the middle of a day long back-and-forth argument. Later I found out he slept with that person. But why did he bring this person to my house when we were in the middle of a fight about how unsupported I felt after the abortion? Was this retaliation for getting support from someone else? Or retaliation for me saying he uses women he sleeps with to survive?
Diego is financially abusive.
I had allowed him access to my finances at some point, before he left for Standing Rock for the first time. When I ended things the second time at the end of January of this year, he had someone send him money via my account without asking me first. I did not wish to see or speak to him but now had to negotiate how to get him money because I knew it was for an elder and loved one from Lakota Territory.
Diego used political rhetoric to suggest we were engaged in financial solidarity, when in fact he was taking advantage of my willingness to work to pay the rent so he could use his time to organize.
Finally, I moved out of our shared apartment because I was in distress about his abuse and sexual behavior and he refused to move out. I was the sole leaseholder, and I stayed on the lease initially so he could have time to add his name. He did not take steps for multiple years to get his name on the lease. When I would reiterate I wanted to be off the lease, he would use political rhetoric to convince me to stay on it, saying that if I took steps to get my name off the lease, I was siding with the landlord against a comrade.
In late 2016, I finally said I would get off the lease when it was up for renewal in August 2017 no matter what. In response, without me knowing it, he stopped paying the rent on the apartment (apparently as part some disagreement over payments with a fellow roommate). After three months, I received a call from his roommate saying an eviction notice had been posted on the door and that Diego was out of the city and not responding to any calls. When I called the landlord I learned they were suing me for the back rent.
When I was finally able to get in touch with Diego, he was at the airport on his way out of the country. I terminated the lease on the next business day.
Diego is unaccountable for endangering spaces.
I asked Diego about a previous accountability process called for him during Occupy Sandy to check in about what happened, and what the resolution was with another comrade doing work around the Split Rock encampment. (I had known of at least two accountability processes that he was involved in).
He dodged the question and when our comrade brought it up again, he completely ghosted on her. I also brought up the fact that he organizes in Sunset Park Copwatch and was organizing with another cis-man of color who I had known was a part of an accountability process for a former friend, and knew that one of the conditions was that he let folks know he was organizing with that he was going through accountability for full transparency.
Diego dismissed it because the former friend who had requested accountability was “fucked up to (my) friends around housing so why was I batting for them?” I responded that that doesn’t fucking matter and that he needed to follow up (I was thinking of joining but that had been my major hesitation). He responded by saying, “hey my crew is all femmes so I obviously know what I’m doing and I’m already vouched for.”
We left that conversation with me saying, “you need to actually practice your so-called politics” (which were never clear to me; the most I could surmise were hippie with anarchist tendencies or career activist chasing the occupation; though he spoke about Maoism favorably, presumably after he started dating a Maoist), and “follow up or whatever crew of femmes you have at the time will just be forced out of spaces.” Only months later, after I had cut communications with him, did he follow up with one of our mutual friends who was part of the accountability team (presumably in an effort to cover his tracks). Any time I would bring up his own accountability processes, he would dismiss me by saying “yeah they were resolved, the whole community had my back and now I don’t fuck with these people.” When I would ask for clarification, he would be vague and not disclose much. When I ended things, he lashed out saying “you never had my back anyway,” presumably because I didn’t blindly defend him.
On several occasions he attempted to get me to agree to hold known assaulters accountable so that they could work in movement spaces again, explicitly going against what those survivors had called for (political isolation of repeat perpetrators). He would say things such as, “no one else on the Left can do it,” and “it’s not fair to these guys,” and “everyone trusts you.” My response was an unequivocal “no” and telling him that my concern is not these men (former members of RSCC) not being allowed in spaces, but rather a supposed comrade of mine’s insistence on centering abusers’ needs at the expense of the safety of his own comrades. I said to him, “I need you to understand why this is important and so unbelievably fucked up that you continue giving these misogynists any credibility.”
Diego helped a local Rockaway resident begin a construction company after Sandy. We all knew that this person had been in prison, though nobody knew what for. It was generally assumed to be something about alcohol or drugs and a fight of some kind. After establishing this company, Diego decided that the “real” organizing was happening on the other end of the peninsula and left. Many people tried to reach him for many reasons, including families who were supposed to be receiving construction help from the construction company, but were not getting what they were paying for (many spent large amounts of money to get little or nothing), or were being given the run around, or inaccurate answers, etc. Diego never responded to anyone.
When he left, the group that remained to deal with the construction company and other things was all womyn led. Many of the families that were having construction work done were womyn led. At some point, we all became aware that in fact, the reason the local resident was in jail was for a charge of aggravated sexual assault. Diego knew this the whole time but had chosen not to disclose it because the resident claimed to have been set-up by an ex-girlfriend. He chose to believe this story and dismissed the importance of warning the womyn left behind about potential risks to them or their work. His argument for this polarized the situation as a choice between supporting a brown ex-convict from being further criminalized or ratting him out to strong privileged women, in yet another example of how he used a manipulative discourse of class and race solidarity as justification for iresponsable behavior.
After setting him up with a vehicle, business cards and funding to start the construction business, Diego disengaged and left him to operate without any accountability to other volunteers working in the same community, and in flagrant violation of his parole. The volunteers left working with him were unknowingly complicit in parole violations that could have seriously put community members and volunteers at risk, not to mention our credibility and ability to work as volunteer relief workers. After he was arrested for violating his parole and Diego pleaded with us to write support letters to the judge, we not only discovered the reasons he had been in prison, but we realized he wasn’t supposed to be driving a vehicle or working with minors, both of which we had facilitated. He chose to take away autonomy and choice from the womyn working with the local resident, and chose to put people and projects at risk – also knowing that the local resident had been drinking more and more and became more aggressive with alcohol.
A group of people, womyn and men, held an accountability process with him about all of these and a few other issues. He talked about his current partner, a movement womyn, as proof of his ability to deal with strong womyn and to learn from his behavior. He said many of the words he was supposed to say, but both his body language and facial expressions made clear that he was not taking any of the process to heart. Many others in the movement came to his defense and praised his charisma, energy and devotion to the cause. People who called him out or refused to organize with him were accused of having “personal problems” that we were unjustly mixing. Womyn who called him out were treated and labeled as “difficult” and “bitches”. His behavior since that time shows that he changed nothing. He still doesn’t acknowledge many of the people in that accountability process when he is in spaces with them, and unfortunately people continue to defend him and dismiss critics.
Diego invoked my name and our relationship without my knowledge or consent during an accountability process, using my reputation to try to shield himself from criticism. That compromised my relationship with these other womxn who were trying to hold him accountable.
I can think of three other instances were I witnessed Diego engage in irresponsable behavior that made me question his character and put other people in vulnerable positions that he didn’t seem to acknowledge or care much about:
The first time we met was when he was representing the Kitchen crew in Spokes Council during the early days of OWS. I remember after just minutes of conversation he started bragging about all the money that came in through the kitchen and how little oversight or acountability there was over it. Identifying me as a fellow brown person that would surely be down for whatever he proposed, he started explaining how much money they took in daily and offered unchecked funding for projects that OWS en español might have.
The second time was when he invited me to be a part of planning a direct action aimed at the prison industrial complex. He brought together people from different groups that didn’t know each other and again guaranteed funding to make it happen and as a bail fund for those who would surely get arrested and face legal consequences. As meetings progressed, the group became larger and the security concerns mounted; there was very little knowledge or practice of security protocols and people started to become concerned until fortunately the action was canceled, to his great dismay and disappointment. I distinctly remember people questioning at the time whether he had been acting as an inciter to purposefully put people at risk because he had been so negligent and pushy in the planning process, including people that had known him and organized with him for years previous to that.
Finally, I can’t forget to mention his time supporting the plight of the Hot and Crusty workers and how his antics almost jeopardized their union negotiation process. After deciding that the fight needed to be escalated, Diego convinced the workers -mostly immigrants, some likely undocumented- that there should be an arrestable direct action organized on their behalf where OWS folks would lock down in the store. The action was a fiasco; at the last minute the dufflebag with the lockboxes was lost, Diego taped over security cameras without making the smallest effort to disguise himself and sure enough, police showed up, and arrested him and several others without ever deploying the action or meaningfully contributing to the worker’s fight in any way. The open legal process would be later used as leverage to try to pressure the workers to rescind on their demands in exchange for charges to be dropped on Diego, which fortunately they ultimately decided not to do. Although at the time of the arrest Diego had another open case where he had been threatened with jail time, and various other OWS related arrests on his record, the case went by without a hitch and he never had to serve time for either, which also sparked a bit of surprise and skepticism from folks around him.
Diego has alcoholic/addictive tendencies.
I witnessed him needing to drink every day, smelling of alcohol, and bringing alcohol into inappropriate places. This violated my boundaries as well as community agreements we had discussed at length.