On the January 28 episode of The Bachelor, Colton Underwood seemingly addressed his ex Aly Raisman‘s sexual assault. Though he didn’t name names, the 24-year-old has been vocal about Larry Nassar’s alleged abuse of her and dozens of other US gymnasts. Now, fans of the reality series are slamming Colton, 27, and ABC for using her trauma as a “storyline.”
Prior to the episode airing, one person wrote on Twitter, “Mark my words: if
#TheBachelor producers and @fleissmeister allow @colton to share Aly Raisman’s story on national television tonight, they will break my heart and the hearts of survivors across America. It is not his story to tell,” before adding, “Update: my heart was broken by #TheBachelor.” Another fumed, “BETTER have gotten permission for Aly Raisman to have her story and sex life used on a reality dating show. F–king TRASH. Yep. Really sensitive to sexual assault survivors to retraumatize them on national tv.” A third, meanwhile, chimed in, “ @Aly_Raisman IS NOT A @BachelorABC STORYLINE @ABCNewsPR. This is so incredibly gross @colton #TheBachelor.”
The conversation was prompted after contestant Caelynn Miller-Keyes revealed she was drugged and raped as a sophomore in college. “It’s not an easy thing for me to talk about, but it’s something that’s really important, especially in relationships, because it’s something that has come between a lot of different things in my life,” she shared with Colton.
“I woke up the next morning and I was completely naked in my bed and had no memory of the night before … I just had a pit in the bottom of my stomach,” she continued. “[Two friends and I] were all sexually assaulted … 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’ … They laughed and took Snapchats. It was horrible.”
In response, Colton replied, “I want you to know with me, you’re safe.” He then seemingly discussed Aly: “She was sexually abused, and for me, that was the hardest thing I ever had to watch. Going through something with someone, looking into her eyes and just knowing the pain associated with it. Who am I to feel the pain when I wasn’t the victim?”
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in a Michigan State prison after seven days of impact statements from more than 150 girls and women who said he sexually abused them. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told him at the time: “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison again. You have done nothing to control those urges, and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable … I just signed your death warrant.”
Aly, Colton and ABC have yet to address the backlash.
If you need support, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. You will be connected with a trained staff member in your area. Or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.
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