One of my favourite times of the television season is when people stop being polite and start getting real when THE REAL WORLD COMES ONNNN. The latest season made it’s way to Facebook and it was a DOOZY. The season, set in Atlanta, gave us this week’s amazing feature Tovah Marx. We sat down to chat about her time on the show, her very public breakup with a fellow MTV star and her Youtube channel. Are be blond BFFs now? Maybe. Let’s get to it!
- How has your life changed since appearing on the show?
My life has changed in multiple ways since appearing on Real World. I have almost completely changed as a person, and in the best way. While on the show I realized I never moved past my sexual assault. It still defined who I was as a person, and in turn I was allowing men, or should I say boys, to treat me however they wanted to. As you saw on the show I was in a very tumultuous relationship with Clint. You guys did not get to see the worst parts of our relationship. I was an idiot. I let him talk to and treat me however he wanted. I remember one night he got another girl’s phone number in front of me. It was maybe a week into our relationship, and instead of ending things with him I cried and told him I would do better. How incredibly embarrassing is that. I had such low self worth that I apologized to him after he got another girl’s phone number. You all saw how he spoke to me, and treated me, yet I stayed. This was a true reflection of how I have allowed boys to treat me since I was 16. The therapist I saw on the show really helped me begin to move past the assault and put myself first. I finally stood up for myself and said enough is enough. I am now so much stronger when it comes to men, and don’t allow them to treat me less than I deserve. This is proven in my recent break up with you know who. I am finally a strong independent woman who refuses to be treated less than a queen.
I was also in the Real World house on what would have been my cousin’s 27th birthday (April 27th). He had committed suicide 4 years prior, and that day is always especially hard on me. I had a huge breakdown. People could see I was sad, but no one was asking if I was ok or how they could help. I am always the first person to make sure everyone is ok so I was furious when no one was doing the same for me. Meagan and Yasmin sat me down after watching me cry all day and had a talk with me that changed my life. Meagan said, “We have lived with you for two months now and know nothing about you, you never tell us anything.” It was in that moment that I realized I never in my life have asked for help from others. I never want to be a burden, so I keep it all inside. They didn’t even know it was my cousin’s birthday because I didn’t say anything. I am so used to going up to people and making sure they are ok, but I have never opened up and asked for help. Not to my family, not my friends at home, no one except my mom. From that day forward I have allowed myself to ask for help and not feel like a burden. It has strengthened all of my relationships, and has taken an incredible amount of weight off of my back.
My life has also changed because I now feel like I have a purpose. I have always wanted to do social work and work with foster kids. But now because of the platform I have been blessed with the ability to reach so many more lives. I have become a role model and someone who inspires other people to push past their struggles. Real World has given me a reason to continue my life, when there have been many times I did not believe I was an asset to this world.
- You had a very raw, and difficult reveal of being a survivor of rape while filming the MTV hit show (you should be proud of your strength). What was it like for you afterward? How did you feel after the reveal?
Watching that episode was incredibly surreal for me. I could barely speak after I saw the end credit when they put up the RAINN helpline. I had seen the message countless times on television, “If you or someone you know needs help because of sexual assault call this number….” But when I saw it on my TV because of MY story, it was a feeling that even gets me choked up now. During filming I didn’t really think anything of it. I mean I knew it was going to be aired, but I did not think it was have this impact. But after watching it on TV and realizing I just told millions of people something most people in my life did not know about me, it was overwhelming. And then the messages started pouring in. The confessions of other people’s sexual assaults. From young girls, boys, men, and women. It was a lot to handle if I am being honest. I wanted to respond to everyone, to help everyone on their own healing journey. But it became too much too fast. Which is part of the reason I created my @HeyTovah instagram. A safe place for people to share their stories, and allow people to talk to each other about their struggles.
When I was filming and discussing what happened to me, it did not cross my mind that my friends and family did not know about the assault. I had lived with it for 11 years now and it was a huge part of my identity. What did not cross my mind was that my grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and friends would find out about this part of me on television. That was one of the biggest impacts it had. I had not only told millions of strangers, but I guess I didn’t realize my family and close friends had no idea this had happened to me. I still haven’t spoken to them about it, it is very uncomfortable for me to discuss it. But I made a YouTube video about my experience, and how I dealt with the aftermath. I tell them if you want to know more, refer to the video.
I think the biggest impact it has had is the amount of people who told me they were brave enough to tell someone their own story of sexual assault after watching mine. People who had buried this pain for years were now brave enough to get help and begin healing from their trauma. And that is something I will forever be grateful for.
- Do you keep in touch with any of your former housemates?
I speak to Meagan and Clint. I left the house really good friends with Yasmin and Dondre, we even had a group chat with the three of us. We talked everyday and were incredibly close. It was important to have a close connection to the housemates while our show was filming because of the haters and pressure that had been put on us. Unfortunately one day I woke up to Yasmin and Dondre bashing me all over the internet. I went to sleep and the last thing we said to each other was an inside joke. The next day they created a fake text message about me and tried to turn people against me. They were getting a lot of heat on the show and used me as a scapegoat. It was absolutely terrible. I began getting death threats, it was bad. I never once said anything bad about them, and have proof our last conversation was positive, but they showed their true colors and I will never talk to them again. But on a positive note I stayed very close with Meagan, and talk to Clint frequently.
- Since today is #TMITuesday can you tell the readers something about you that they may not already know?
My followers know I was severely bullied as a child to the point where my first suicide attempt was at the age of 12. Which is why I am very against bullying or putting anything negative on my social media. So when people ask why I don’t retaliate on social media, especially after the Yasmin and Dondre drama, that is why. I think the world is so negative in the first place, and I want to continue to be a light for those around me.
- Let’s talk about your Youtube channel! It appears to be about health and lifestyle are there any Youtubers that you look up to? And where do you want this channel to go?
I am so new to all of this social media stuff. Before I went on Real World I barely had an Instagram, and only followed meme pages. I did not have a twitter, tiktok, or youtube. But after seeing the impact I was making on Instagram, I wanted to kick it up a notch. I still haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with the channel yet. I knew I wanted to get out my story on depression/anxiety and sexual assault. I really want to show others that I struggled so much, and look where I am today. I want to show people if I can do it, so can you. Im struggling between wanting to get out my story without being a debbie downer. So we will both be surprised to see where the channel takes me!
- Twitter made your breakup with fellow MTV-er Nate Sestok quite public. Claims of releases of revenge porn/nudes were made. Did social media help or hurt this situation?
Yeah…. I wasn’t going to bring our drama to twitter because again I want to keep my impact as positive as possible. But when Marie asked what happened, I spilled. I was so tired of being asked about the break up but living in fear that he would release pictures of me. It was actually great because Marie tweeted if anything was leaked about me, that everyone would know it was Nate. To be honest I am kind of glad it happened because he ended up deleting his twitter.
When we were together, and before I even knew who he was, I saw he used his twitter to bully people. I told him multiple times while we were together not to talk to people like that online. So it all ended well in the end. I was able to tell my side of the story, Marie made sure my pictures did not get leaked, and we got one more cyber bully off the internet. I was embarrassed for him when he made fun of me for having a mental illness. How are you going to make fun of a mental health advocate for having a mental illness and not think that was going to backfire? I want everyone to feel safe on the internet, so I am glad he is off Twitter.
- If you had to choose one song to be your ‘theme song’ what would it be and why?
I love the song “Love Myself” By Olivia O’Brien. It is all about not caring what other people think and just being yourself. I used to care so much of what people thought of me, that sometimes I would not leave the house. But I have finally grown comfortable in my skin, and am unapologetically me!
- Now that you’re a ‘reality tv star’, do you watch any other reality shows?
I LOVE anything Real Housewives. In my free time, it is the only thing I watch.
- Many Real World cast members have gone on to compete on The Challenge, would you compete on the show? Who would you want as a partner from your season of The Real World?
I would love to go on the Challenge. I have been going to the gym to try to get my stamina up, because I am not very strong at all. But I am great when it comes to puzzles, so I will be an asset in that respect. Clint and I always joked that we would make a great team. He has the muscles and I have the brains. I think we have a great chance at winning together.
- What’s next for you Tovah?
Next…. If you figure that out let me know haha. Right now I have no idea. All I know is I want to make a huge impact on this world. I want the suicide rate to go down, I want people with mental illnesses understand they are not alone, I want sexual assault survivors to begin their own healing journey, and I want the world to be a positive place. I am starting a foundation for suicide prevention in honor of my cousin. I will hopefully go on the challenge and more shows. And one day I will accomplish my dream of opening group homes for children in the foster care system. How that is all going to look? I am not sure, but until then I will just do my part in trying to make this world a better place.
For past #TMITuesday interviews click here and let me know in the comment section who you want to see me talk to next!