- "Bachelorette" star Katie Thurston shared a past experience with sexual assault in Monday's episode.
- Thurston, 30, is known for being sex-positive, but she said it took a long time to get there.
- The former "Bachelor" contestant highlighted the importance of consent and the show shared RAINN contact information.
“Bachelorette” star Katie Thurston opened up about a past experience with sexual assault in Monday’s episode, during which she highlighted the importance of consent.
The 30-year-old reality star made a name for herself during Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor” early this year as a woman who’s comfortable and open talking about sex. But it took her a long time to get to that point after she was “involved in a situation where there wasn’t consent” about 10 years ago, during a New Year’s Eve celebration, she said in Monday’s episode.
“It’s not something I wish upon anybody,” Thurston said. “I was in denial about what happened, so much so that I tried to form a relationship with him because I didn’t want to believe what actually had happened. When that didn’t work out, for years I had a very unhealthy relationship with sex. I didn’t want to have sex, which affects a relationship. I didn’t like talking about sex. It’s taken me a long time to get to where I am now in being open and comfortable talking about it and loving myself and accepting things I can no longer control.”
She added: “For a long time, I felt responsible for being too drunk, too irresponsible, too stupid. But it’s not my fault. Because consent is important and I did not give it that night.”
Thurston said sharing her story was ‘liberating’
Thurston reflected that she felt “liberated” sharing her past with the nine men on her group date, which asked the contestants to discuss difficult experiences. She said she didn’t plan to share her story, but was inspired by the vulnerability of others, who shared struggles with alcohol and the death of a spouse.
"Bachelorette" star Katie Thurston was joined by franchise alum Nick Viall for a date centered around opening up about major past experiences. (Photo: Craig Sjodin, ABC)
“I just want you guys to know that I’ve come a long way in who I was 10 years ago,” she said, stressing “how important consent is, how important communication is and how important it is to not guilt trip somebody for not having enough sex with them.”
She continued: “That is something really big that has happened in my life that in some ways has really shaped me into exactly who I am today. And so with you guys sharing your stories, I thought it was important to share mine as well.”
‘The Bachelorette’ suggests resources for those who have experienced sexual assault
Before cutting to commercial, the show provided viewers with contact information for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. A media guide released last month by a coalition dedicated to improving mental health depictions in entertainment that included Disney, ABC’s parent company, noted the importance of giving viewers such tools to help them cope and seek assistance after introducing difficult and potentially triggering topics.
Later on in the group date, contestants applauded Thurston’s candor and showed support.
“I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Connor B. said. “Thank you for trusting us enough to talk to us about that. It meant a lot.”
The Bachelorette reflected that opening up about her past “felt like I was taking control of that situation and just not letting it control me or my pain anymore. At the end of it, I just felt relief.”
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org/online and receive confidential support.
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