“The Bachelor” Raises Awareness for sexual assault survivors

Kaitlin Ryan, Staff Reporter

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“The Bachelor” has been criticized in the past for being anti-feminist, sexist and lacking in diversity. The show’s premise does raise some questions, as it is about 30 women sent home week by week, all pining for one man’s love and attention.

While this 23rd season of “The Bachelor” is still filled with all its annual predictability, there seems to be more awareness toward the issues that the show was previously criticized for normalizing.

For the first time in the ABC franchise’s history, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a contestant opened up about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

Runner-up of the 2018 Miss USA Pageant, Caelynn Miller-Keyes since the season premiered. Fans and current Bachelor Colton Underwood were drawn to her positive energy and charisma; it was clear she was a front-runner from the beginning.

On the Jan. 28 episode, during a one-on-one date with Underwood, Miller-Keyes shared a disturbing story from her past.

She revealed that she was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party as a sophomore in college, a story she briefly spoke out about during the question-and-answer period of the 2018 Miss USA pageant.

The show’s typical romantic, playful energy immediately became serious and gave off unsettling emotion as the 23-year-old contestant shared in detail her account of what happened the night she was drugged and taken advantage of.

Miller-Keyes said, “I struggled with the shame and guilt that I had felt. … It is the most difficult thing in the world.” While the assault changed her life forever, Miller-Keyes explained that overcoming that traumatic experience shaped her into the person she ultimately became. She said, “It’s a dark part of my history but I’m not going to let that diminish me or who I am.”

Underwood responded to the raw, uncut story by expressing his support for her. He said, “I want you to know that with me, you’re safe.”

After the emotional conversation, the show ran a public service announcement for RAINN, a nonprofit, anti-sexual assault organization. The announcement prompted anyone who has experienced any kind of sexual assault to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-4673, or visit rainn.org.

According to RAINN, out of 1,000 cases of rape, only seven cases will lead to a felony conviction. There are many cases similar to this one, where justice is not served for the victim and the crime goes unpunished.

In Miller-Keyes’ case, all but one of the men who assaulted her got away with the crime. The man who was caught faced expulsion from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

“The Bachelor” franchise has showed promising efforts of raising awareness for victims of sexual assault by providing the necessary resources and allowing Miller-Keyes to share her story.