Maggie McCann, Contributing Writer |
Trigger warning: Mentions of sexual assault and rape.
During the January 28 episode of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” a truly groundbreaking conversation took place between the current season’s Bachelor, Colton Underwood, and contestant, Caelynn Miller-Keyes. On a one-on-one date with Underwood, Miller-Keyes bravely described the details of a sexual assault that had been committed against her. The assault happened in 2014 while Miller-Keyes was only a sophomore in college. The story, involving her and two friends at a fraternity party, was described as follows “[The fraternity members] drugged our wine […] I woke up the next morning, and I was completely naked in my bed and had no memory of the night before, and… I had a small vision of a guy in my bed, and I just had this pit in my stomach. Something really bad happened last night. And my girlfriend called me and said the three of us were all sexually assaulted.”
Underwood respectfully listened to Miller-Keyes as she courageously told her story. “The Bachelor” followed up by reassuring Miller-Keyes that she was safe with him, asking questions and even recounting his own experience with sexual assault. After the date, “The Bachelor” regarded Miller-Keyes’s bravery in sharing her story saying, “that moment is a moment that very rarely happens on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” where it is bigger than the show.”
Miller-Keyes’s story, unfortunately, ended in only one abuser being held accountable while the other men involved escaped punishment. This was due to an inconclusive rape kit that was done by a second hospital after the first hospital Miller-Keyes and her friends contacted refused them one. Miller-Keyes’s story, however, occurred in 2014 and there have been great strides made in the conversations and policies about sexual assault victims since then, although there is still a long way to go.
Caelynn Miller-Keyes has shared her history of sexual abuse publicly before, having mentioned it on-stage during the 2018 Miss USA competition. Although it is a familiar experience for the contestant, it is not so familiar to ABC or “The Bachelor,” as this was the first time any contestant had shared a sexual assault story on air. Immediately following Monday night’s episode, “The Bachelor” aired a PSA for RAINN, asking anyone who has been affected by sexual assault to contact the organization or visit their website at rainn.org. In the era of the Me Too movement, Underwood and Miller-Keyes’s conversation on air will expectantly lead to more men and women speaking up about their own experiences in order get the help they deserve.
Monday’s event was a surprising turn around for the ABC series which, in 2016 and 2017 had been surrounded by allegations of sexual misconduct including recording and condoning of sexual acts in which both parties were far too intoxicated to have consented. The show was rumored to cancel after the serious allegations. It is hopeful the show franchise has taken a turn in the right direction.