NOTE: This story contains graphic content that may be upsetting to some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
On Monday night’s episode of The Bachelor, one contestant went beyond the show’s common surface-level conversations and shared her traumatic experience of sexual assault.
During a one-on-one date with Colton Underwood, 23-year-old Caelynn Miller-Keyes opened up and said she was drugged and raped in college at a fraternity party. It was the first time a Bachelor contestant addressed sexual assault in such a manner on the show, and the first time the franchise aired a conversation of such a graphic nature.
“That moment is a moment that very rarely happens on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, where it’s bigger than the show — it’s bigger than anything this show has probably seen or done before,” Underwood told The Hollywood Reporter.
“While I was with her, I forgot everything that was going on, and I don’t know if I can say that about any other moment on my time on The Bachelorette or on Bachelor in Paradise. I was always aware there was a camera on me and that I was doing a TV show and in that moment with Caelynn, all of that went out the window.”
Viewers also commented on the magnitude of the event, thanking Miller-Keyes for sharing her story and applauding the franchise for airing the lengthy conversation.
Many pointed out that Miller-Keyes conversation with Underwood felt honest and unedited, unlike many other dates the show airs.
That was the most raw, genuine moment in Bachelor history. Thank you for sharing, Caelynn ❤️ #TheBachelor
Here is the number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673
— Jamie Blynn (@jamieblynn) January 29, 2019
— Ashley Spivey (@AshleySpivey) January 29, 2019
This story is heart-wrenching, especially bc @caelynnmk is one of so many women (and men) who have experienced sexual assault. It also feels like an apt time to mention that there is a massive backlog of untested rape kits in this country –> https://t.co/EnLsar3Onm #TheBachelor
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) January 29, 2019
Miller-Keyes thanked viewers for their support on social media, and told survivors of sexual assault that their “voice matters” and they “deserve to be heard.”
The reality-show contestant also used her platform to share statistics on sexual assault, and posted contact information for sexual assault resources.
Thank you everyone for your love and support during this time. And to all of the fellow survivors out there, I want you to know your voice matters and you deserve to be heard
— Caelynn Miller-Keyes (@caelynnmk) January 29, 2019
During the Jan. 29 episode, Miller-Keyes, a former Miss North Carolina beauty queen, told 27-year-old Underwood details about her assault for the first time. She called the experience “the most difficult thing in the world,” and shared her struggle with reporting the incident.
Miller-Keyes said that in 2014, she and three friends went to visit male acquaintances at a fraternity party where their wine was drugged.
“I woke up the next morning completely naked in my bed and had no memory of the night before,” she said.
“I had a small vision of a guy in my bed and I just had this pit in my stomach that something really bad happened last night. My girlfriend called and said three of us were all sexually assaulted.”
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Miller-Keyes said that her friend told her two of her friends passed out at the party, and that two men subsequently assaulted them.
“The girlfriend who didn’t drink the wine called me and told me that not only did a guy come home and have sex with me, another guy — I was passed out on the couch from the drugs and he said, ‘Watch what I’m about to do’ with all his fraternity brothers around me and he lifted up my dress,” she said.
“They watched and laughed and took photos.”
Miller-Keyes told Underwood that the experience was “absolutely horrible,” and when she went to get a rape kit at a local hospital, she said she was turned away, adding that denying her the kit “ illegal.”
She said she went to a second hospital and spoke to police, but the rape kit results were inconclusive because “too much time had passed.”
“The men got away with it, except for one,” Miller-Keyes said. “One did get expelled and the rest got away with it.”
Miller-Keyes told Underwood that she was “determined to get justice” for what happened to her, and wanted to share her story with others.
“It’s something that will always be a part of me,” she said. “I struggled with the shame and guilt that I had felt.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
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