At the age of 21, with my college diploma in hand, a plane ticket to Europe, and $10,000 of my hard-earned savings, I set off to travel the world. First stop–Europe.

A few weeks into my trip, I was in Berlin with a friend from high school who had been studying in Barcelona. I was thoroughly enjoying my trip and my freedom. Yet, this particular night was different.

I was flirting, laughing, telling travel stories, and LOVING the attention it brought me from the guys. There was one particular guy who seemed to appreciate me more than others, and at some point I ended up sitting on his lap. It was all in good fun, and as the fun dwindled we said our good-nights and made our way to our respective beds in the shared room of the youth hostel.

At some point in the night, I awakened to see that same guy now sitting on the edge of my bed staring at me. The bed was shaking. I knew what was happening, yet I pretended I didn’t and rolled over.

The next morning I woke up covered in his dried semen.

He was gone.

As I washed away the filth and disgust, I kept saying to myself, “At least it’s only ON me, and not IN me.” I kept wondering if it was my fault. Had I flirted too much? Had I led him on? Had I done something wrong?

Over time the memory faded and I decided it was “no big deal.”

In the wake of the #metoo movement, and the recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, I realize that it is a BIG DEAL. I much BIGGER DEAL than I could have imagined at the age of 21.

I truly believe that there is a gift wrapped in even the roughest sandpaper, and this sandpaper is indeed rough. Voice after voice after voice of women, men, girls, and boys have come to the forefront showing how big of a deal it really is. That to me, is a gift.

Because this isn’t simply a sex problem.
Nor is it a political problem.
Nor is it an economic problem.
Nor is it a race problem.
Nor is it a religious problem.


One that goes back centuries. One in which people fail to treat other people as people, and instead use or abuse them for their own pleasure or gain–whether it be sexual, economic, or otherwise. We can see it throughout history, and we continue to see it today, around the world, and behind closed doors.

My fear, though, is that the continued finger-pointing, blaming, and shaming, will only prolong the problem because the more divided we become, the more difficult it will be to create a different future.

As far as I am concerned, we are all responsible and we all have a responsibility.

This isn’t an us/them situation. This is a WE SITUATION, and the sooner we can see each other as ONE, rather than divergent individuals, with divergent interests, the sooner we can put an end to this disgusting habit of treating people like they don’t matter.

If you have no idea how you could possibly be responsible, when you didn’t do anything, here are some ideas:

>> You are responsible for your WORDS including the ones you may never speak.
>> You are responsible for your INTENTION and the WHY behind your actions.
>> You are responsible for your INTEGRITY and and the values you choose to live by.
>> You are responsible for your JUDGMENTS and the disconnections they create.
>> You are responsible for your LISTENING and whether you seek to truly understand.
>> You are responsible for your HEART and any love or hate that spurns from it.
>> You are responsible for your COURAGE and whether you choose comfort instead.

Twenty years ago, I didn’t do anything. I lay in a hostel bed, wide awake, and silent while some crude young man masterbated all over me. I have no idea if he went on to do it again to other women in other youth hostels, or whether he chose to take it a step further. I may never know.

What I do know is that I am ready to take responsibility for my part in this collective mess.

Will you join me?

Courage. Compassion. Connection.

Originally published at


  • Theresa Destrebecq

    Teaching You To Build a Self-FULL Life!

    I teach women how to step into their power, especially after a loss--a lost job, a lost relationship, a lost business, or a general lost sense of self. I help them to see how and where they have given away their power to people or situations outside of them, and instead take back their power and create a self-full life. By blending personal development, intra and interpersonal communication skills, and conflict transformation tools, my clients develop a strength and calm, despite storms brewing around them. I am also the founder of the Emerge Book Circle, a global community of hundreds of women who love three things: Books, Personal Growth, and Community. If you are interested, head over to my website to book a sample coaching session.