The woman at the center of the now-viral clip of Tony Robbins, in which he seemed to dismiss the goals of the #MeToo movement, told ABC News’ “Nightline” today that she felt “pushed” to stand and confront Robbins for his rhetoric.
“I was really uncomfortable with what he was saying about #MeToo,” Nanine McCool said. “The part that sort of pushed me out of my chair was the constant shaming of victims. … I’m really tired of being shamed for having been a victim.”
McCool, a resident of Louisiana and former lawyer, said that she “was cringing” while listening to Robbins talk about the movement during a self-help seminar March 15 in San Jose, California. McCool said that she was attending the seminar hoping for inspiration.
“I thought, ‘Oh gosh, Tony Robbins, you’ve got this all wrong. You don’t understand,'” she said, “and then the next thing I knew I was on my feet and I was yelling at him.”
Sarah Morris/Getty Images, FILE#MeToo campaign founder Tarana Burke speaks at the #MeToo Survivors March & Rally, Nov. 12, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif.
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McCool, who told “Nightline” that she’d been “sexually abused by a male baby sitter” for years when she was “very, very young,” said the #MeToo movement had given her the courage she needed to speak up and help people understand the movement’s significance.
“I relate to it (the movement) because I lived it and hearing all those women speak about their experiences, even though I knew intellectually that it wasn’t just me, there is something very powerful about hearing women stand up and say, ‘That happened to me too,’ and it feels like you’re suddenly not alone anymore,” she said.
In the video, which went viral last week, McCool called out the superstar life coach, saying that he “misunderstand[s] the #MeToo movement.”
Robbins, 58, responded, saying, “I’m not knocking the Me Too movement … I’m knocking victimhood.”
Jerod Harris/Getty Images, FILETony Robbins speaks at TEDMED on October 28, 2010 in San Diego.
He then added: “What you’re seeing is people making themselves significant by making somebody else wrong.”
The motivational speaker and self-help expert then shared an anecdote from a “very famous man, very powerful man” whom, he said, illegally passed on hiring a woman because she was considered attractive, despite the fact that the woman was the most qualified candidate.
On Sunday, Robbins apologized for misunderstanding the movement in a statement posted to Facebook.
“I apologize for suggesting anything other than my profound admiration for the #MeToo movement,” Robbins said. “Let me clearly say, I agree with the goals of the #MeToo movement and its founding message of ’empowerment through empathy,’ which makes it a beautiful force for good.”
“But sometimes, the teacher has to become the student and it is clear that I still have much to learn,” he said.
ABC News reached out to Robbins for comment today and was referred back to his Facebook statement.
Tarana Burke, who created the hashtag #MeToo and was instrumental in creating the movement, turned to Twitter on Saturday to tell her followers that she was “made aware of this video BEFORE I ever saw it because Tony Robbins people reached out to do damage control within 24 hours.”
The activist added: “They wanted to ‘give me context’ apparently. I don’t need any. I have eyes. The full video is 11 mins. And it’s gross. Bravo to this woman.”
Burke concluded her series of tweets by suggesting Robbins “talk to more SURVIVORS and less sexist businessmen maybe you’ll understand what we want. We want safety. We want healing. We want accountability. We want closure. We want to live a life free from shame. That’s the reality of the @MeTooMVMT sir, do better.”
It appeared Burke’s comments struck a nerve with Robbins, who said he’s now “realized … while I’ve dedicated my life to working with victims of abuse all over the world, I need to get connected to the brave women of #MeToo. I am committed to being part of the solution.”
Robbins concluded: “I am committed to helping to educate others so that we all stay true to the ideals of the #MeToo movement. I will never stop examining my own words and actions to make sure I am staying true to those ideals. That begins with this brief statement but will not end until our goals are reached.”
Robbins, a self-help author, became famous in part because of his celebrity clientele, which has included former President Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams. He’s also the author of several New York Times best-selling books.
McCool, who says she paid almost $3,000 to attend the 3.5-day seminar, requested a refund. She said it was given to her “no questions asked.”
Today, she called Robbins’ apology “a good start” but said she has no intention of interacting with him again.
“I hope that this discussion that has taken off from this video … that women feel empowered by it,” McCool said. “I just want that to continue because that’s what the movement is about. It’s about changing the culture through, through speaking our truth and being heard.”