I have to tell you first and foremost, that I have been a huge Tony Robbins fan for such a long time. I read his books, I listen to his podcasts, I absorb each and every one one of his social media posts. No he’s not my “guru” but he is someone that I have admired for a long time. A mentor, a guide, a coach… even a hero to me.
In fact, attending his signature event Unleash The Power Within [UPW] has been on my wishlist for years, so a few months back I finally committed to going. I handed over £2000 and spent every day counting down to something that I felt was going to be hugecouldnly transformational.
And then UPW San José happened. And I caught a glimpse of a YouTube clip that shook me to my core. (It took me a few days to watch the clip in full as I was shocked by what I saw, and I watched it at least 10 times after that to make sure I didn't “get it wrong”)
I watched an incredibly brave woman, Nanine McCool, stand up and talk about how she thought Tony had the #meToo movement wrong and I watched in horror as Tony Robbins shot her down.
“I’m not knocking the #meToo movement, I’m knocking victimhood. What you’re seeing is people getting significance by making someone else wrong. You shouldn’t throw stones if you live in a f**king glass house. Is there any one of us that hasn’t done something that we prefer we not?” said Tony.
Am I the only one who cannot believe that he said “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”?!
Let's talk about that for a minute first.
Victimhood – definition: the state of being a person harmed or injured, as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action
I don't choose to be sat here on my own, age 34, crying about the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. It is a sickening reality of what I continue to suffer at the hands of someone else’s actions.
No matter how much I pour into my life (love, community, family, giving value to others) being a victim is always there in some respect.
I might be watching something on TV, or hearing a conversation that sparks a flashback, or having a nightmare – it's always there. 22 years on.
I don’t choose to be in that state and I certainly don’t cling onto it to make me feel significant or to attack my abuser. I would much rather it not be a blip on my radar, but it is.
That’s my reality whether I fill my life with significance in other ways or not.
No matter how much I live a full life as a wife, a Mum, a friend, a coach – an abuse victim I still am.
So I’ll tell you what the #meToo movement did for me.
It made me feel like less of a complete mess.
It made me feel like I have support.
The #MeToo movement made me feel like whatever pain I continue to have is normal and that I am surrounded by others who might be broken, but that continue to thrive.
And when I see that brave acknowledgment #meToo come from women who are far more successful than me, it makes me strive for better.
Which is why I feel so damn hurt by what I saw.
Watching that brave woman stand up and talk about the significance of the #meToo movement and then watching Tony not only shoot her down, but use his sheer size to intimidate her into being quiet, made me feel sick.
I agree, a prolonged victim mindset is SO damaging – there is always a way out so you can thrive. But silencing Nanine in such a dominating way was insensitive to our struggles, it was so ill-thought out.
I’ll tell you why this personally hurt me so much.
Gosh I don’t want to share this but here goes.
When I was 12, I was having such a tough time at school and home. I was hanging out with people I shouldn’t be (because they actually protected me and took me under their wing), I wasn’t doing well at school and I was getting bullied.
Hardly surprising since I was being sexually abused that my life was falling apart in so many other ways.
When I was 12 I reported my abuser to the police and because there wasn’t enough evidence he got away with it.
I wasn’t protected, the system failed me – and the lesson I took from that, was that it was MY fault.
I deserved it because I wasn’t a good child. I wasn’t doing well at school, people didn’t like me, and I was acting out – therefore I deserved the abuse. I didn’t deserve a happy ending.
I spent the next 20 years in depression, although I didn’t know it at the time, but piece by piece put myself back together.
The childhood sexual abuse wasn’t my fault. You have no idea how much time it has taken me to believe that, live that, say that out loud.
So when I hear Tony Robbins saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” it hurts.
Does that mean I cannot speak up because I am not perfect?
That I shouldn’t share my story because that's attacking my abuser?
I have no idea why he said that, and it is painful as hell to me.
He said he won’t apologise for the UPW situation. But I wholeheartedly believe that because he knew he had done something wrong, he acknowledged that most people in that moment wanted an apology that he wouldn't give.
I tried so hard NOT to be angry at Tony. I tried so hard to look in-between the lines of what he said and extract something wholesome and meaningful, but no matter how much I wished – there was nothing there.
I can't believe the way he spoke to that brave woman who was sharing her thoughts on the #meToo movement.
He tried to silence her with getting the audience to agree with his points, and then used an intensely misjudged and ill-thought out exercise to illustrate what he thought the movement was about.
The #MeToo movement, and Nanine's thoughts, weren't about pushing. It's about awareness, self-love, compassion, solidarity, respect.
It wasn’t what he said that gets me so upset. It was how he used his size, his authority, the crowd, to silence Nanine.
But he wasn’t just attempting to silence her – his authority and stance on the #metoo movement silences those that need so desperately need to be heard.
When voices like Tony Robbins disempowers our voices, then 12 year old girls (and boys) lose their voices too. They lose their ability to take a stand in that one single moment they decide they can be brave enough.
Not everyone who has been through what I have been through thrive, let alone survive.
Don’t get me wrong, I COMPLETELY 10000% agree with what Tony says – you can let your past define you, or you can take back control.
But it doesn’t ever fully go away, not really. I don’t choose victimhood.
I have asked for a refund for the event – I feel like my time would be better put to use doing something else.
I cannot be in that room and spend 4 days trying to absorb lessons from someone who so badly got it all wrong in that moment and is not sorry.
Yes there will always be people who use a movement for their own gain, but the VAST majority of those involved with the #meToo movement are using their voices to empower others – like the 12 year old girls who have no voice.
I cannot imagine how much pain would have been removed from my world if that movement had existed when I was 12.
I’m so sad about seeing what I saw. I can’t unsee it.
What he could have done in that moment is acknowledge the brave women speaking up and stood with us. That was a choice that I have no doubt will have massive repercussions.
It has certainly massively effected my opinion on someone I highly respected.
I do welcome your thoughts below. Please keep it kind, thoughtful and non-offensive.