Sensitivity Warning: This is a story about surviving sexual assault while traveling. I believe that it is important to share what has happened to me so we can all be stronger and safer travelers. It has taken me a year to share my story here. With the media finally paying attention to the day-to-day harassment women face around the globe it feels like a necessary time to add my voice to this conversation. My story is not meant to be fear-mongering and I think it is absolutely safe for women to travel alone, I’ve done so for years and have been mostly out of harm’s way. This has been very difficult to reflect upon. All of the #metoo conversations have been incredibly triggering, especially so close to the anniversary of this particular attack.

A year ago I was shattered, a complete ghost of the confident independent woman I had grown to be. I had just spent an amazing few weeks exploring one of my favorite countries, Morocco. It was my third visit to the fascinating nation and I was deeply enamored with the culture, customs, and locals. I felt welcomed everywhere I went. Yes, there were inappropriate stares, comments, and sometimes very quick touches that I wished hadn’t happened. But nothing out of the ordinary of the usual sexual harassment I receive as a female traveler everywhere I go. 

I was in Ouarzazate exploring the Kasbah when I was attacked by a sexual predator. A Kasbah is essentially a labyrinth of narrow hallways, staircases, and tiny rooms. It was once a communal home for the local villagers. When I entered the typical local male ‘guides’ at site offered to give me a tour for a ‘very reasonable price’, I denied as usually they don’t have any accurate information to share and I would rather explore alone. I deeply regretted this decision later.

The room I was in was once the ladies chamber admiring the colorful wood carvings when I noticed a man in the room. I only saw he was there because I was taking a selfie and he was in view of the picture. He approached me and asked me to take his photo, first in French, then in broken English. Of course, I happily said I would take pictures for him. I snapped several photos. 

Then he grabbed me to take a selfie. I tried to object but his hand was all the way around my waist and right under my breast. In that moment I actually thought he was trying to rob me so I held my purse tight and smiled for a picture. My instinct in this moment was essentially to give him what he wanted so that he would go away. I thought it was my best option to play along and then escape. 

He wouldn’t let me go and pulled me closer and nuzzled my neck as he continued to snap photos and reach his hand under my shirt. I shoved him off of me as he was showing me the blurry picture saying they weren’t good and we needed to take more pictures. I started shouting, “Do not fucking touch me again!”

I ran into the next room which was a dead end. He came in with his penis and testicles exposed and was masturbating. He pushed me back against the wall as he continued to touch himself. Even though he had been aggressive towards me before I could have never imagined this was going to happen. I froze and was in complete shock for what felt like an eternity. I started to kick him and he ejaculated everywhere, on my jeans and the floor. He scampered away and I just stood there. 

It took me a few seconds to process what had just happened. I started screaming. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know where he had gone. The only exit of the room led to two stairwells. Which one did he take? I didn’t know if he was waiting for me. What if I took the wrong set of stairs? What if he was angry that I had kicked him and now he really wanted to physically hurt me?

A few moments later two young men ran into the room and I immediately lost control of myself and started shaking and hysterically crying. They did not speak English. They were coming closer to me. I was screaming, “NO! Get away from me!” In my terrified state I assumed that they were friends with the pervert who had just assaulted me. I thought they were there for their turn, but they were just trying to help. I was being awful to them when they were only trying to find out what was wrong. 

The local men who are guides for the Kasbah, the ones that I had refused to hire before all ran up to see what all the fuss was about. One of them spoke enough English to get me to sit down and breathe. I was surrounded by around a dozen men and was certain that this is just the beginning of a gang rape. I didn’t know how to get out of the building and was completely terrified. 

I finally calmed down enough to explain to one of the men who spoke some English what had just happened. When he told the rest of the men they were immediately furious. I knew then that these men were here to help me, not hurt me. They wanted to call the police. They wanted me to go outside and get some air. I told them I was afraid to move and I didn’t know where my attacker was. They said they already had looked for him and that he was gone and walked me slowly downstairs.

I remembered that I had taken a selfie earlier and that the guy had been in the background. I had a picture of the perpetrator. I let the locals call the police. I wasn’t hopeful that anything would come of it, but the police were furious. They sent the photo around to other officers and sped off as quickly as they had arrived. 

The local men brought me water and tissue. I didn’t really understand where the police had gone and the guides just told me they were going to go find my attacker. I thought that would be impossible. At least 15 minutes had passed and while the city isn’t large it certainly isn’t tiny. They asked me to stay and wait for the police to return. I tried to sit there for a few minutes but couldn’t shake off what had just happened to me. I couldn’t regain my strength and I just kept crying, something so unusual for me.

I needed a distraction, so the guide who spoke English offered to take me on a tour of the Kasbah. We had been walking around for about 20 minutes when the other men hysterically ran towards us shouting. My guide, Moha, translated for me–”the cops had caught the asshole,” he said. We went to the front of the Kasbah and sure enough the police van was back. I couldn’t believe that they had really found him. The picture was zoomed in and blurry and you could hardly see his facial features. But they opened the van and sure enough there he was on his knees, crying and begging for my forgiveness. To everyone’s shock, including my own, I screamed, “FUCK YOU.”

We went to the police station where it took about four hours of translating and retelling the story over and over again. The picture was all the proof I needed. The Moroccan police never asked me why I was alone, never question what I was wearing, or suggested that I should cover my head and hair. They didn’t doubt what had happened to me. If you’re grossly curious about what I was wearing the photo above was captured the same day. I realize I may have be given special treatment because I am a foreigner. 

The sexual predator that attacked me was arrested and put in jail. I was told he would be tried the next day in front of a judge and sentenced. I have no way of knowing what the ruling was but I had been told that there is an official sex offender list in Morocco and he will be on it for the rest of his life regardless of how much jail time he is given. This was the first time in my life I’ve swiftly received justice when reporting sexual harassment. I have no doubt that this was not this monsters first assault. His attack was so calculated. He knew the Kasbah well, knew where to corner me, and how to escape. He took me as prey because I was alone, and kind enough to take his photo. He perceived me as vulnerable.

It’s important to reiterate that all of the Moroccan men who helped were exceptionally kind to me. Especially the police, who simply believed me. With the other attacks I have survived in the States and Spain they’ve just been laughed off by both friends and authorities. This did not happen only because I was in a Muslim-majority country. What this man did is very much so against his religion. He is a bad man before he is anything else that is defined by his citizenship, color, or creed. Men like him exist all over our planet. They are predators with no respect or regard for women.

For instance, I have been followed by men who were masturbating in Los Angeles and New York City. I have been harassed around the world, assaulted in Spain, molested in Florida, and raped in Kansas. In the last few years, I have opened up about the times I’ve been sexually abused and have found that every woman I know has been sexually harassed in some way. Others are oblivious and find catcalling, unwanted touches, and hungry stares to be flattering.  

In Morocco, I was physically OK, but mentally I was broken. The attack had me seriously reconsidering the solo travel lifestyle I created for myself. My confidence was completely shattered. I felt so violated. I was traumatized and incredibly vulnerable. I tried to feel lucky that I wasn’t hurt. 

The night of the attack I took a bus to a coastal town for a 3-day surf camp. I stayed for two weeks as I regained my confidence. I walked around with downward cast eyes. I retracted from every man that approached me. I fought hard to recover a sound mental state. Eventually, I went on to Moroccan cities alone, something I truly didn’t think I’d be able to do again. I lost my ability to navigate the medinas and deal with unwanted attention from Moroccan men.

When a man followed me down an alleyway a few weeks later in Rabat and put his phone in my face for a selfie I threw it to the ground and ran away. When another man in Rabat sat down next to me at a historical site I told him I was going to start to scream. I have zero tolerance with men and selfies now. 

I prevailed. I regained my power. I refused to continue to feel defeated. I hadn’t come this far to only go this far. I stopped questioning my lifestyle or why I “put myself” in dangerous situations like this. I left for India a few months later with a bolder stance on what it meant to be a solo traveler. I no longer went into sites alone Now I always hire a guide, they may not be super articulate about the historical facts but they’ll keep me safe as they want to get paid at the end of the tour. 

Once I didn’t see any guides at the Amer Fort in Jaipur, India. The old living quarters were eerily similar to the Kasbah in Morocco where I had been attacked. I was lost and couldn’t find an exit and was starting to cry and was having trouble breathing. I was in a complete panic for the first time since I had been attacked. Everything came back to me vividly and I hated myself for being alone in a similar place. I asked two guards to show me the way out, instead, they took me down some stairs, I turned and ran away. I found a quiet corner to sit down and breathe. A man approached me in a yellow shirt. I looked away and stood up and walked the other direction. When I lifted my head he was standing in front of me and pulled me in for a kiss. I hit his windpipe hard and ran. Another guard stopped me and asked if I was okay, briefly I told him that a man in yellow had tried to kiss me, but didn’t mention that his associates also tried to trick me. 

When I tell these stories to male friends, family members, or lovers they find them hard to believe. Maybe because they themselves would never treat a woman in such a nasty way. Most men have never been objectified or harassed like this. But all women have, whether they want to admit it or not. Globally there is a stigma that surrounds sexual harassment as something acceptable. But it absolutely it’s not.

I am an activist for women’s empowerment and naively had thought that my days of being assaulted were behind me. I don’t know if they ever will be. This particular assault in Morocco felt ironic as I had been working with women’s empowerment groups in the country. This year I spent three months in India working with a women’s empowerment NGO. I have been trying to reroute my story and use my pain as fuel to be a part of a global movement for women’s rights.

The attack in Morocco brought up a lot of anxiety from being raped as a 15-year old virgin. I didn’t speak my truth about being a rape survivor for nearly a decade. I never properly dealt with it. But somehow the attack in Morocco has made just as big as an impact on my life. Perhaps because it happened while I was doing something I love, traveling. Perhaps because I was in a foreign place and didn’t know where to go or who to trust. 

I used to be defensive when people go on about the dangers of being a woman traveling alone. The reality is it is dangerous to be a woman anywhere, alone or not. Sexual harassment makes most other things that I’ve thought were difficult in life seem trivial. I am so tired of being dehumanized by men who view women as second-class items. It is hard work not to lose my confidence and to remember each time that I did not bring this upon myself. I did not ask for this unwanted sexual attention. Going ‘home’ to the USA, wouldn’t mean that I would stop facing sexual harassment. In the current political climate in the States, it seems almost celebrated by the President who is an alleged sex offender.

I overcome sexual abuse by sharing my experience with other travelers, men so they can learn how difficult it can be for women and start to speak up, and women so we feel less alone in the vicious violations so many of us have been through. What got me through Morocco was talking to complete strangers online that I met through the Girls Love Travel, Travelettes, and Go Wonder Facebook groups. I felt safer talking to these women who loved travel than I did my own friends and family who wouldn’t understand.

I am incredibly saddened by the other stories of sexual harassment that have surfaced through the #metoo movement. It is a very heavy burden we have to bare as women to be the keeper of our stories and others. When I shared my story in those Facebook groups this time last year dozens of strangers shared with me the sexual harassment they’ve overcome with while traveling. 

While it makes me feel less alone and question less why this keeps happening to me, it makes me not feel very hopeful for the future of our gender. Now that sexual harassment is being publicly discussed by Hollywood and mainstream media perhaps we’ll see a change, but probably not. It will be old news by November. The Las Vegas shooting was barely three weeks ago and no media networks are covering it anymore, Puerto Rico is still suffering on a massive scale and the media have moved on to other topics. The media has a huge responsibility right now to start a paradigm shift in the States and around the world to educate the masses about sexual harassment and put pressure on politicians to pass laws that make it illegal to cat call, for starters.

I don’t know if a day will ever come where I will stop wondering if my whole life will be plagued by events of men sexually harassing and abusing me. Thank you for listening to my story. If you have one you’d like to share I am always available to talk. I am sending love to each and every one of you who relates to these stories. We’re in this together.


This Post Has 75 Comments

  1. So proud of you again for sharing! You are an incredibly strong woman that will help others with your story!

  2. Oh my goodness. You have been through so much. Thank you for being strong. Thank you so much for not letting it defeat you!!!!!!!!!! Go girl!

  3. thank you for sharing your story! I am a solo traveller myself and can't imagine what you went through. you are such a strong woman and courageous!

  4. This kind of experiences really shapes you, no matter how many times it happens or how big the assault is. I had a difficult time with this in Turkey. I was in a resort, sunbathing, when I was approached by one of the hotel's staff just because I was sitting alone (my family went into the town). I tried to avoid him by going near the deck water, but I was thrown into the water by him. While coming back to my place, I put on a towel as I was wearing just a swimsuit and he tried to give me a massage. I was so scared (I was just 15 years old) that I started crying. Finally, I tried to shove him away, but before leaving he insulted me. After that I kept questioning if I ever should travel alone. Unfortunately, there is no place where sexual assault can't happen. It's a horrible experience.
    Your story is heart warming and shows that despite being fearful, we must keep fighting. Hope you stay safe when travelling again.

  5. That is shocking just reading it. I can't imagine how shattering must have been for you. It is one of the things I am most afraid and probably the reason I haven't ventured on my own. You have shown an immense strength and courage. Stay strong, stat safe!

  6. As well as feeling both sad and furious on your behalf, and full of despair that you have had to experience not just the Kasbah attack but others in many other places, I feel a very positive and hopeful reaction to the way the men and police who came to your aid in the aftermath behaved, that they believed you immediately, supported and helped you, took seriously your experience and sought justice for you… as you say, this is not a universal, sadly and it's bad enough we have to suffer these attacks, and made a hundred time worse by those who shrug it off, refuse to take it seriously and fail to help us personally or in terms of justice.

  7. Thank you for sharing.

    I agree with you – strange men do no deserve your (or my) patience or attention. One of my mantra's is "A man's feelings are not worth my safety".


  8. It's terrifying to acknowledge that the other unwanted touches and comments were just brushed off as "just part of being a woman". I'm so sorry to hear you had to experience that but you are truly very brave for sharing that! That is great though that the police and the other men afterward were helpful in finding the predator! My husband actually got me mace because it's just unfortunately unsafe to blindly trust people.

  9. That is so horrible. I have had a lot of close shaves but not assaults like that. I travelled solo around India too and was totally unaware of these issues. I always had guides at every stop. So not sure if that helped.

    Today, I am much more aware and much less tolerant too. Unfortunately, when we travel to places we just have to accept that we have to be more vigilant. Hope you don't have any more incidents like that.

  10. Wow. Your story is powerful and sharing it took courage. But it may help so many people facing similar histories – so thank you!

  11. Thank you Rachel! You are also a strong woman who inspires me with your true grit and determination to raise awareness for brain cancer. I am honored to know you!

  12. I hope you never face a similar situation. Thank you for your support!

  13. I really needed to hear this. It is true that every time is different in the way in impacts you. I am so so sorry to hear your story. What a vulture for praying on a young woman. I was 13 or 14 in Florida and was assaulted on a beach. My mom had booked me a massage and let me go down to the table on the beach on my own as it seemed so safe and I wanted the independence. Within a few seconds the man stuck his hand under my swimsuit bottoms and his fingers started touching me. I had never been touched before. I knew it was wrong. I got up and screamed at him asking how old he thought I was. He said, you're 18, right? As if being of age would have made assaulting me less of a crime. I didn't tell anyone, I was too young to be brave enough to do so. I wish I had.

  14. I hate that the risk of sexual harassment or assault can keep us from venturing on our own. While I sometimes think physical touch is an isolated event and usually things do not progress from verbal harassment I understand why you are scared. I am scared too. I am tense when I am alone but being extra alert helps to keep me safe. I hope when you do venture out on your own you don't have any trouble. <3

  15. Thank you for noticing that, Kavey. It was so important for me to give them credit, I was amazed by how the situation was handled. I have never gone to the police in the U.S. when I was assaulted and when I did in Spain I was laughed at.

  16. That's absolutely right and I had to learn it the hard way but will never forget that lesson and hope others can learn it by reading this story.

  17. You're right – those moments are also damaging instances of harassment but they are so commonplace. I am glad your husband understands the difficulty and supports you.

  18. I am happy that you have not had to live through an assault but close calls are also damaging and unacceptable! I am glad that your guide in India kept you safe from unwanted advances. Thank you for your support.

  19. Thank you so much for your story, and being brave enough to share it. I felt out of place participating in the "me too" movement, as most of the things that have happened to me have been relatively minor (and certainly so in comparison to stories and experiences of friends). However, assault is assault, so I'm not sure why I've felt like my negative experiences weren't worthy enough to get mad about, because they are! It can happen to anyone, at home or abroad. My most recent experience was in Egypt and I was groped by a man trying to take a selfie with me… And my husband was five feet away from me! I agree now with your policy of basically no more "being nice" when it comes to a photo with a random guy.

  20. It is an awful story .. but it made you stronger & smarter, and that is all it counts. I am glad to read how the other men tried to help you on the spot, we need to regain trust that there are good men out there, regarding the feeling sometimes.

  21. It's such a horrible incident. Words fail me as I type this comment. All that I can say is that you are strong and brave to share it and I would like to share this on my FB timeline with your permission..Take care

  22. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I don't usually feel very connected to stories I read only, but this has brought me very close to crying. I am so deeply sorry for what you went through. It is so important that you found the courage to make these things public, when I started telling male friends about the kind of things that happen to me and other females on a day-to-day basis they were almost always incredulous, they didn't even mean bad, they just really didn't know. Apparently we have to tell them, so the 'good ones' become more aware of the problem and can become our allies in fighting against sexual harrassment. I haven't experienced anything half as bad as you, but I've been through the 'normal' kind of stuff – being touched by strangers in public places, being groped without consent in a disco, having to run away towards my hostel room because a guy wouldn't stop trying to kiss me and pull me closer, throwing a guy out of my house because he wouldn't understand that I did not want to sleep with him, etc. etc. And then getting asked 'well, why did you take him home if you didn't want to sleep with him' (to clarify, we had made out in the disco, then got food after, it was raining and I lived very close by – so to me it seemed logical to go eat the food in my living room). I don't want to stop being independent and travelling alone because of things like this, but your post definitely makes me rethink the security precautions I take when doing the things I love. Sending you so much positive energy <3

  23. I think you're incredibly brave Lola, for sharing this story, for carrying on travelling (solo), for travelling that night after the incident in Morocco, and for staying at that surf camp. I really admire your courage and send you so much love, it's disgusting what people are capable of. I try to remind myself that 95% of people in this world are good, but I know how scary a place it is to be in where we keep our eyes cast down and cannot trust anyone for a few days. xxxxxxx Ellie

  24. Thank you so much for your bravery in sharing this. It has been incredibly empowering to hear all the stories coming from #metoo – thank you for adding your voice to the chorus. And this: "The reality is it is dangerous to be a woman anywhere, alone or not." It's not about one country versus another, or women traveling solo – it's about a global culture that makes this disgusting behavior acceptable. I'm so glad you regained your power, kept traveling, and shared your story with us.

  25. This is such a powerful message of both overcoming such difficult physical and emotional situations turned to women's empowerment and of the goodness of everyday strangers to want to help and protect others. I can't even imagine how difficult this was to share in such a public way, but I'm so glad that you did and that you're continuing to stand up for others by sharing your story for women's empowerment. And I'm so reassured by the amount of men who were outraged by what happened to you and immediately tried to find the predator. I completely agree that the geographic location hardly matters, because we deal with these issues everywhere. My husband also tells me that I turned him into a feminist, but you're right that so many men were simply unaware of what women deal with. Honestly, I think we are unaware sometimes too as it has become such a natural part of day-to-day life unfortunately. From the cat calls to more egregious incidents. Stay strong!

  26. Thank you for reading and for your support Michelle. I am so sorry to hear about your experience in Egypt, I hope it won't taint your experience there although I know how difficult that can be.

  27. Thank you Godi–you're right somehow this experience has made me stronger than I knew I could be.

  28. Thank you for your touching words and although I didn't want to make anyone emotional by telling my story I am glad that is resonates with others. You're right, men don't know so they don't get it and don't know how to react or how to change. This isn't a competition or olympics and what you've gone through is equally heavy and awful as what I've experienced or anyone else. Don't deny yourself the space to recover and be angry and sad about whatever you've had to experience. What you describe here is terrible and I am so sorry that you've had to go through it. You don't have to clarify the situation. You can be naked in bed with a man, have already begun in relations, and then decide that NO you do not want to have sex. You can change your consent at any moment. <3

  29. Thank you so much for always supporting me, Ellie! I am so happy we've connected over shared mentalities about mindful travel and hope we can meet some day.

  30. Thank you for hearing my truth, Emily. It is about the global culture, I hope our granddaughters will look at us in shock when we tell them "how it used to be" because I have to keep believing everything will change by then.

  31. Kate thank you so much for your encouraging message. To turn our pain into fuel can be challenging but I believe it is the only way to heal and prosper. It was difficult to share but I feel a whole new sense of justice knowing thousands of people have read this story now, even though we don't know the name of the pervert and I didn't share his image, I hope he can feel how disgusted everyone is by his actions.

  32. I have traveled solo a few times as a woman in spite of legions of fear mongering people who told me that it was unwise for me to do so. There has been a lot of close calls and encounters I don't want to remember as part of my trips. They happened and are a sour taste in my mouth. But evil people are everywhere (I live in this sweet suburb and I got followed getting coffee this morning even when I glared at the man and made it obvious I could see him? My god, nothing like feeling unsafe when you are going to a cafe attached to a nursing home). However, I am a big believer in staying strong and confident as a woman. When it feels like a small group of men make the world unsafe and everyone else justifies their behavior by telling you not to explore it because of them, you still own the world. Rape culture does not own your life, you have a right to wander freely, widely and alone. I used to get looked down upon for taking the train home from work- but you know what, despite that particular line's reputation for dodgy people, I did not want to give up my right to use it and give in to the power and fear evil people exert onto women. If anyone shouldn't have the right to be in the public sphere, it is creepy, predatory, violent people- not women who want to take the train, get a coffee in the morning or travel the world. You're existence as a woman is not a pre-determined weakness that you have to cater through how you live your life. Your piece really resonated with my experiences and also my attitude. You may get shaken up and bruised and hurt but you are a still strong and confident- keep rocking the world xxx

  33. There are so many experiences that are uniquely female and unfortunately harassment and assault at this constant level if one of them. Speaking out is a step in the right direction. Peace and love to you as you move forward. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  34. I have no words to express how I feel at the moment.
    I can't either find an explanation for the disrespectful behave of these men.
    I am just hopeful things will get better and no other person in the world will feel like you, we have felt.

  35. THANK YOU very much for sharing this, I am crying so much right now, I am SO VERY SORRY you went through this, I will share this so more women can be alert, only when I started traveling I noticed how people ALWAYS asked "Why are you alone" BUT to the men part of the same trips NO ONE questioned why they were traveling alone… It still surprises me how in "Modern Times" women need to be SO ALERT from predators as if we were just piece of meat.

  36. You brought tears to my eyes….but remember you are not alone as you have yourself said "The reality is it is dangerous to be a woman anywhere, alone or not." But salutes to your determination and grit to continue what you love doing….You are brave…so don't stop your passion….Way to go!

  37. What a story,

    I am very sorry for what happened to you throughout your years of travelling through the world. You had so many incidents all over the world and yet you are still a strong women travelling alone.

    it is hard to comment on all the incident but i a want to take this moments to address first what happened to you in Ouarzazate.

    Having travelled myself in over 25 countries and been Moroccan, I can only say that Ouarzazate is one of the safest places in earth, it is a place where local people can help you without any question asked nor bad intention and this to happen to you highlights that bad things can happen anywhere.

    As you may already experienced that all the people there came in to help you and in fact been so concerned about you and felt a strong obligation to make sure the bad men was captured and removed from their village, I saw attacks happen in Chicago and new York and instead of people coming to help they actually leave the attacker escape.

    To who ever reads this comments and what what was said on this story, I tell you that Morocco is one of the safest places in the world this days and been even a tourist you will be even safer, it is however like any other place suggested to make sure you know where to go and what to do.

    Please fell free to contact me and i ill provide you as much information and tips about Morocco as you need.

    Thank you

  38. Krav Maga is a very useful self defence system in these situations. It really saddens me to hear about the way in which humans can treat each other, I hope you can enjoy travelling in the future. It's stories like this that reaffirm my rejection of travelling to Muslim countries and India – they're all dumps with backward, medieval patriarchal culture that have little respect for women. Horrible places.

  39. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me such a sweet message.

  40. Thank you for your comment. I am not trying to say Morocco is not safe. I love Morocco and would like to go back for 3 months some day. I did not let this attack change my perception of the country.

  41. Even though I've had these experiences I still feel comfortable traveling in Muslim-majority countries and India. I did not let this one man tarnish an entire religious group or part of the world for me.

  42. I can relate. Of course, and I won't "let the bastards get me down".
    Where do I get a tazer, and are they legal to travel with?

  43. Perfectly shared. Absolutely vital to have these conversations. You have handled all of this amazingly.

  44. Change something…. only you can create safety for yourself. Yes it's very real the assault and abuse and violence against women, it's finally coming out. However there is a certain naïveté too that you have to address. Starting with getting massage from grown up man when you were so young and going alone because you wanted to be independent…. that is starting point of education in not being so independent. Alone in foreign countries is difficult, you have to have major safety precautions and radar developed. You seem to be very young in attitude. You can't say I won't let them keep me down and go down the same path again. No. Don't let them keep you down by not being in dangerous situation (alone) in any secluded or old ancient fort, or building in a foreign land. The India story is frightening. Especially the stairs. Don't find yourself alone in any of these places. Please. For your own safety.

  45. I don't censor my site so I've published your comment but I deeply disagree and think victim shaming is never acceptable, even if you feel like you're coming from a good place. The subject of this story is that these experiences have changed the way I travel so to imply that I haven't done anything different is insulting.

  46. I'd suggest you research that per country as TSA laws allow them in checked baggage on flights but of course have no regulation in country.

  47. I'm sorry that the incident in Morocco (and all of the others) happened to you. This raises concerns about travel from two areas: one, of course, being the assault, but the second one is concerning from an accused point of view. You said that the man was arrested and would be tried and sentenced the next day. In your case, you personally are certain he is guilty, but that seems very quick for a court to come to the conclusion of guilt. I'd be terribly concerned about the rights of the accused in such a system. Again, in your case, you personally know he is guilty. And perhaps his apology in the van is considered a confession in Morocco. But the idea that he would be sentenced and also placed on a lifetime registration of sex offenders with less than a 24 hour period to put together a defense is troublesome. I can see how that could be extremely dangerous for a traveler who is more accustomed to a Western legal system with free attorneys, much time for preparation, etc. (I'm imagining my husband or brother or cousin being mistaken for someone in a blurry selfie and begging to be correctly identified and that being misinterpreted as an apology by someone who didn't speak the local language.) Quite frightening. As slow and sometimes overly generous to criminals as it may be, I'm thankful for the Western style of legal process.
    I wish you safe and happy travels.

  48. Hi Debbie! I understand your concerns and do think everyone should have a fair and just trial. However, there was no mistaking him, I am 100% sure that the man they caught is the one who attacked me. But I do hope he had a fair trail.

  49. I am so very sorry to read of your assault by this man. Sexual predators are beyond any sympathy from those of us who consider themselves compassionate humans. I was a young runaway, 2 days before my 16th birthday, when I accepted a ride from a trucker at an Indiana truckstop plaza. The cab contained the trucker and his younger assistant. I immediately fell asleep in the truck's sleeper as I had been on the road for 2 days without rest.

    I awoke to the two truckers arguing. The older trucker was extremely upset and he fired the younger man and pulled over to kick him out of the truck. After he pulled away, I sat in the cab listening to this man's stories as we made our way to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    In Tulas, the trucker pulled in to a motel's parking lot and said he was going to get us a room so we could get good rest before he went to find another young man he knew to work as his assistant. In the room, he said we needed to sleep in the same bed because he rented the room as a single and didnt want to be charged extra for me. I didnt thing anything was wrong, I was a naive young boy, over 6'2" feet but slight, maybe 140 pounds. Still exhausted, I showered at his insistence and I fell asleep.

    I woke to him holding me down as he ripped my underpants off before he raped me. I struggled and tried to get away but he was so much stronger I couldn't move, so I yelled and he hit so hard I was stunned silent. When he finally finished, I was sobbing on the bed as he threw me a towel from the bathroom and said it was time to get on the road, as if nothing had happened.

    As we left, I started to move to get away, but he grabbed my arm and guided me to the truck. I was in shock and not prepared for anything. He drove to a fast food restaurant and found the young man he had mentioned. He hired this guy and mentioned his destination a state away. Sensing my chance, I said I need to go the other way, to California and my Dad's place.

    He looked at me angry and tried to convince me to stay. I refused and got up to leave, safe with the other guy there. He then pulled out his wallet and threw 2 ten dollar bills at me, as if I was being paid for what I had endured.

    It was 1971, and I was a runaway. I made my way to the interstate and never mentioned what happened until much later in my life. And when I did talk about it, I'll never forget looks of disbelief and comments that it was somehow my fault – from men and women. I did not talk about it again, but I will never forget what this man did to me.

    I know these predators are men, but sometimes the victims are not women.

  50. I am so sorry to hear this happened to you and thank you for sharing your story with us here. I hope you've been able to heal <3

  51. I was raped when I was 21 years old by a stranger who entered my apartment. I am now 67 years old and I have done a great deal of traveling. There are still times when I am in a small elevator in a foreign country, a man enters, and I think to myself, "Oh no, not again."

  52. I am torn to hear your story of surviving a rape in your own home. I hope over the years you've been able to heal and I'm glad to you know you've traveled! That fear of wondering when you may be attacked again is so awful, I'm sorry to hear it has stayed with you over the years. Sending you lots of love, strength, and light.

  53. Poor girl… This is insane that though being weaker and more vulnerable we need to confront situations like these on the top of it.

  54. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. This is terrible to read. I had something similar happening to me years ago in Australia as a fellow traveler actually followed me to my hostel room and tried forcing himself on me. He told me he saw me looking at him all day (i wasnt) and that he knows i want it too. It still haunts me sometimes.

  55. I went through a mentally and emotionally harrowing situation recently, a month ago to be exact. I was travelling by train and it was a long journey. A pedophile was lurking nearby. He claimed hat some seats next to ours were his, and there was no way we could have known they weren’t. As somebody who has been molested twice as a young girl of ten (the same year; now I am 17), I realised that he could be a pedophile. It was a gut feeling and I was scared. He was violating my personal space just by his stares. The staring was so bad I tried to hide myself the best I could in my upper berth. My mom and sister were with me. When I finally climbed down (it was a long journey and I had to), he initiated conversation with us, even though we didn’t want to talk. We gave short replies to his questions to not seem rude. He kept going to another set of seats where he had people he knew with him, at least it seemed that way. There was even a female voice coming from that direction, which gave me some relief, for some stupid reason. I even googled how to detect pedophiles, but it mostly talked of people you know, not of strangers. I told my sister, who is 11, that we have to go to he washroom in pairs because the guy was staring so much. She said he was staring at her a lot as well. I don’t know why I acted like such an idiot, probably because I still remembered the events from seven years ago when I had been molested. I thought I was his target. I forgot that I don’t qualify as a kid anymore, not really. He kissed my sister as she was sleeping on the middle berth when we all were sleeping. My sister, that brave girl I’m proud of, immediately told my mother. My father wasn’t with us, so he thought he could get away with anything. The police on the train arrived and I was crying and acting furious. I was. This was too much. First me and then my little sister? I was so angry I wanted that guy behind bars for life. And you’re right, here people are habitual offenders. I didn’t want him doing that to anyone, I wanted him where he could never again set his eyes on any girl, those eyes I want to stab. I wanted to press charges but my mother refused to. And although I am not unhappy with that, I realised that she didn’t want to get into the kind of judicial mess we have in India.

  56. Reading about your experience shocked me even though I have been through this stuff three times now. Oh my god. I can understand how you must have felt – that thing when you don’t trust male people anymore (and for some very strong reason). I am going through the same. I don’t talk to people I don’t need to talk to anymore, only my girlfriends. And I don’t feel like being polite to intrusive strangers anymore. I was googling how to avoid such people when I came across your story. I am so sorry about what happened to you. In recent times my country, India, has seen horrendous rape and murder like crazy. I was shocked after returning from my trip to hear that an eight year old had been gang raped and killed in Kathua, but that wasn’t all. Subsequent days saw more rape and murder, and I realised that it want some domino effect, of course not. It was just that this was finally being reported more frequently. There was an incident in Madhya Pradesh in which an eight month year old infant was raped and killed. I cannot imagine the kind of sick monster the guy was.
    The sad thing is I am still not really as ready to face this challenge as I would like to be. My trust is gone, but I’m still not safe. If I were in that situation again I would still have no clue how to act, not really. How to talk sternly and curtly without making someone angry is just not easy for me.
    And I am disturbed, deeply disturbed, and I still lose sleep thinking about it and burst into tears all of a sudden.
    I don’t know if that was my last encounter with this sort of thing. I don’t expect it to be.
    Well, all of this is a sad sad situation but
    we have to be strong. Thank you for being strong yourself. Keep travelling! We only get to live once on this beautiful planet, we will see it no matter what these jerks do.

  57. Oops I made a few typos there.
    * although I am ‘unhappy’ with that, I realised that she didn’t want to get into the kind of judicial mess we have in India.
    * and you’re right, ‘these’ people are habitual offenders.

  58. Oops I made a few typos there.
    * although I am ‘unhappy’ with that, I realised that she didn’t want to get into the kind of judicial mess we have in India.
    * and you’re right, ‘these’ people are habitual offenders.

  59. Janicka that is so traumatizing, I'm so sorry you went through that. The haunting sensation never ends, does it? Why do men think a LOOK gives them permission to access our bodies however they please?

  60. I'm so sorry to hear about what happened on the train with your family, Arya. I spent six months in India working with you girls like yourself about empowerment. Change is happening in your country dear girl, even if it takes time, I believe in your lifetime society in India will raise up women and treat them as equals. I'm glad to hear you were able to contact the police. You're very brave. Remember the lessons you learned here and always protect yourself, and your loved ones. Shanti Didi.

  61. I hope it was your last encounter, Arya. I hope you can feel safe in your own town. Stay strong and vigilant. You're a warrior.

  62. Hi,
    I'm very saddened to read your story and can totally relate to it as I have also experienced sexual assault, gropping and rape in the UK. I've recently come back from my first solo trip and everything was fine but I was always vigilant and carried a torch and personal alarm with me.

    I'm looking into quitting my job and doing up to a year of solo travelling to do some healing and soul searching on what I want to do next. Thank you for sharing your story because it's a reminder of how dangerous it can be and to take more precautions than I otherwise would.

  63. Thank you for your story. I am a military veteran and struggles with harassment and assault throughout my lcareer and lifetime. Last week my neighbor assaulted me in my own home. He acted like it was a hug and then quickly grabbed me and rubbed himself all over me and grabbed my breasts and then laughed about it as he left. I have been acting reckless since then, My anger and humiliation are over the top. I wanted to call the cops but there were no witnesses so it's his word against mine. I don't know what to do with my anger, I feel like a loose cannon and am afraid I will lose it when I see him. Thank you for reading and again, thank you for your bravery in telling your story.

  64. Thank you for sharing your story. As a guy I’m so embarrassed and furious that these things happen, and worse still it is considered acceptable behavior. Those are not men, those are savages.

    I also wanted to share that I, too am a victim of sexual abuse. It took me years (decades) to get over it. Which is why I’m very cautious as well.

    Hope you are well.


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