During Monday night's episode of The Bachelor, contestant Caelynn Miller-Keyes shared a deeply personal story with Colton Underwood. Caelynn discussed her sexual assault experience in college and how it's shaped who she is today and her approach to relationships. She even continued to open up post-episode on social media. Caelynn's response to sharing her story on The Bachelor sends an important message to other survivors.
Warning: This article contains information about sexual assault, which some may find triggering.
In a caption for her Instagram post on Jan. 28, Caelynn told her followers, "You are not alone." In the post itself, she shared a screenshot of a note, which read, "Tonight, I talked to Colton about my experience with sexual assault. Unfortunately, my story is a common one." Proving that last point, Caelynn shared some statistics in her post as well — including that an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds.
Then, on the second slide of her IG post, Caelynn shared some powerful and poignant words:
"For anyone out there who has suffered from sexual abuse, please please please know: You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be safe. You are not alone. You are believed. There is hope. There is help."
She concluded by encouraging people to look for help, love, and support through the organization RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
Going into the episode, Colton shared a photo with Caelynn on his Instagram page. Along with the picture, he wrote,
"There are moments that are bigger than the show itself... tonight’s episode has one of those moments. Please to be kind, respectful, and understanding to everyone involved."
The Bachelor star also directed followers to RAINN, whether to find support for themselves or loved ones, or to donate to the organization's ongoing efforts.
Also before the episode aired, Caelynn did an interview with People, where she said, "Even though I’ve moved on, it is something I will struggle with forever." She further explained,
"These situations happen when you’re safe. They don’t necessarily happen when you’re walking down a dark alley. It’s when you’re comfortable and when you let your guard down."
During The Bachelor episode, Caelynn recalled a horrific situation in college, where she and two friends were drugged and sexually assaulted by guys that they knew and considered to be "friends" at the time. As Caelynn explained on The Bachelor, not all of the perpetrators faced consequences, but she told People, "Even though they got away with it, I’m happy that I still fought."
Following the incident, Caelynn said that she "took the approach of hiding out." But now she's doing the exact opposite — she's sharing her story and encouraging others to seek out the support that they may need to process similar trauma.
Overall, Caelynn shared her goals with People, saying, "I want to help other people who are hiding out and feel like their voices are restricted. I really am so much stronger now, in so many ways." By being so open about her past in such a public way, she's promoting an important dialogue, while also shedding light on an issue that is so prevalent.
After the episode aired, Caelynn posted a tweet, thanking people for their support and telling fellow survivors, "I want you to know your voice matters and you deserve to be heard."
In response to that tweet and her Instagram post, Caelynn received a lot of support from fans of the show and even some fellow members of the Bachelor franchise, including Cassie Randolph, Jade Tolbert, and Tayshia Adams.
Then on Tuesday, Caelynn posted another Instagram about the situation. After thanking Colton and the show for giving her an opportunity to share her story, Caelynn wrote,
"Most of all, I am truly grateful for everyone who has sent me messages telling me their stories of fear, bravery and strength. The world can be a really dark place sometimes, but these survivors who stand up and speak their truth, they remind me that there is good and light and that everything is not broken."
Caelynn demonstrated great strength when she shared her story, not just with Colton, but with everyone watching at home. While stories like Caelynn's are way too common, her openness serves as a very important reminder that no one is alone in this.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.