I AM BACK!!! It’s been a while (if you hadn’t noticed) since I last posted on this blog. For those that have noticed my absence, I have been a little busy promoting my latest book, BARE NAKED NOMAD
writing the next few books (as well as working on their promotion,) coaching a few other aspiring authors to help them get their first book written, and getting ready to host my first retreat “Naked and Brave,” which has been several years over-due now.
Not to mention, over the past 7 months I ended a long term relationship, met AND married my husband, and am now in the process of moving him out of his flat in England to come and be a full time nomad with me and start the process of getting him back to the US soon.
So YES! Things have been extremely busy in this corner of my world, but I am making a commitment to once and for all get this blog active and going again. With the current wave on social media of “#metoo” I thought what better opportunity to start.
For those who don’t use Twitter or Facebook frequently, Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter this past Sunday evening to start a conversation showing the magnitude of sexual assault with the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein. She tweeted:
“Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
More than 34,000 have responded to her tweet, sharing their own stories of sexual assault and survival, including other celebrities like Lady Gaga and Monica Lewinsky, Gabriel Union, and many many more.
At first, I didn’t really understand what it was about, and I didn’t have a clue who Harvey Weinstein was, or all of the many woman who are now coming forward with more sexual assault allegation against him.
To be honest, prior to coming back to England this past weekend, I was on a remote farm in the middle of France with very limited wi-fi and was sort of enjoying the temporary break from social media.
But as I started going through the posts on Facebook, reading stories of not just celebrities, but close friends and even family members, I quickly realized it was something to pay attention to. Especially as I begin to shift my career from “travel writing” to woman’s empowerment and developing healthy relationships.
Since I have been working on my next book over the past few months, I have been coming to terms with some tramautic experiences I have had in my own life, which is part of the reason the next book has taken so long to complete.
Of course I received a little backlash with my current book having a picture of my cheeky ass on it, especially as I spoke around places in Utah this past Spring, but that’s what you get when you choose the word “Naked” over “Unencumbered,” right?
And of course the judgement (from men especially) when I told them the title of my next book “30 Countries 30 Men,” who assumed it was an open book about my sex-capades all around the world, (you’ll just have to read it to find out if that’s true or not.)
But the real hurt came from my own grandmother when I first told her the working title several years ago, and she advised me to use a pen name so I didn’t “embarrass” the family or anyone who knew me. What if no one would marry be because of that assumption? she asked. When my first and top priority in choosing a partner was finding someone who would love me for me, not for my past or any baggage I was still trying to unpack.
I detached myself from the book for so many years, and focused strictly on giving “travel tips” for that very reason. That and I was waiting to visit my thirtieth and final country and so I could share my lesson. (btw- I love my grandma dearly and she is my biggest hero and inspiration so don’t worry, we have since resolved this.)
But with all of this coming to the surface again, my voice has been silent about it for far too long. The writing and talking about any form of abuse or assault is therapeutic and healing by itself, let alone sharing it publicly with the world helps unite us together and gives a voice to those who are not brave enough to declare it themselves.
I realized that the more we become united and support each other, the easier it is to talk about, and I suppose that is the point of #metoo.
To not be ashamed and to feel that we CAN talk about it, and to also let people know that what happens to you CAN be talked about because that’s how we heal.
That’s how we become stronger, and that’s how we help others become stronger as well. Most importantly that’s how we STOP it or at least make it happen less frequently.
But for the longest time, I DIDN’T talk about it.
Why? Because the majority of sexual assault that has happened in my life happened while I was traveling, ALONE, for the most part to places that people are already afraid to travel to.
I didn’t want my family to be more afraid than they already were.
And I didn’t want other WOMEN to be afraid or to NOT travel (especially to some of these amazing places around the world that do carry more risk of sexual harassment and assault.)
So I talked about the ways to AVOID it, instead of what actually happened to me.
But you know who that helps?
And certainly not the people that think they can do whatever they want to people and think it’s completely okay.
I don’t want to be a victim, but part of NOT being a victim is being able to go through the process of healing (which yes, does include TALKING about it.)
So here are just a few examples of what HAS happened to me (some are a bit more jarring than others so be forewarned.)
On my travels in France, I woke up on a train to a man sitting directly across from me, jerking off like 13 year old boy looking at his first Victoria’s Secret catalogue. I did not confront him, I quietly got up as if I was exiting and proceeded to the next train car to find a conductor. I was in a country where I didn’t speak the language well, so how would I have explained it anyway? (It brought back a similar memory when I was about 12 years old and approached the window of a car to have the man in the car do something very similar as he spoke to me and my friend.)
I woke up on a night bus in Spain to total stranger rubbing and caressing my feet. (Maybe that’s not my butt or boobs, but anyone touching me without my permission is NOT okay, and where exactly was that foot rub leading to?)
I had a cab driver in Egypt zip down his pants as he was driving, expose his genitals to me and hand motioned for me to jerk him off. I responded not in fear, but in anger. I threw my coffee and breakfast roll in his face, which made him more upset. He began to turn the car to an on-ramp in the OPPOSITE direction of the bus station he was taking me to, at which point I reached over, grabbed the steering wheel and yanked it back in my direction, veering the car to the edge of the road, where I opened the door, grabbed my bags and got the F out of there, just as my bus was getting ready to pull away from the station.
Also in Egypt, while partying with friends in a place I thought I was safe, I wasn’t feeling well so I went to lie down for a minute and woke up to someone who had initiated something much more than “snuggling” (that I certainly hadn’t given any invitation to.)
Although I stopped him (after he had already pulled my pants down and had attempted to insert himself,) that’s the last thing I remember happening. I blacked out shortly after for several hours. Unfortunately the “friend” that was there that I knew from the US and who was supposedly “looking after me” has since passed away so I will never really know what actually happened in those “black” hours. Thinking about what actually happened that night makes me completely sick.
And the most traumatic situation for me, which happened in Israel near the Sea of Galilea of all places, I was with a man who I had been “romantic”with a few times previously. In the darkness of the room during an intimate moment, his friend came in and tried to switch places thinking I wouldn’t notice (with a few other men in the room outside possibly lining up? ) In the darkness, I kicked someone (I am not sure who) HARD in the genitals and locked myself in the bathroom for several hours. Naked and afraid and feeling like a completely used P.O.S. wondering if I should escape outside the bathroom window in all my nakedness to try to hail a cab?
Some of the instances, I was naive and just pretended for a while that it DIDN’T happen or that it “almost happened” and I considered myself “lucky.”
I have swept other instances aside because I was intoxicated, which definitely doesn’t justify anything AT ALL, but hey, guys use it as the excuse, right? So if we have a few too many drinks or god forbid they spike our drink, that gives them free reign over our bodies too, right?
Things like this happen ALL over the world, across all different types of cultures, to BOTH genders, and it DOES NOT make it okay.
Anytime you use someone, or make them feel less of a person for something you DO or say to them, it is NOT okay.
I know I am a small fish in a BIG HUGE world, but if my story (or stories) help someone else stand up for themselves to use their own voice, then hopefully it has served a purpose.
To all those that have shared their own stories. I hear you and I link arms with you, as your sister from another mister, sending all my love that whatever happens to you in this life, IT does not DEFINE you.
Always remember that you are infinitely beautiful and worthy and divine, regardless of what someone has done TO YOU or how someone HAS TREATED YOU.
If this message has helped you, or you know someone it can help, please like and share it. Please share your own story in the comments if you are brave enough, and know that you have nothing but millions of people around the world to tell you that it is NOT okay. And if it does or has happened to you, YOU STILL ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND RESPECT and you my dear are INVALUABLE.
Sending love, light, and healing thoughts your way.
Liz Wright-d’Agostino (The BARE NAKED NOMAD)
Liz Wright-d’Agostino, Author, speaker, travel and business and life coach