The Bachelor Contestant Caelynn Miller-Keyes Addresses Her Sexual Assault

On Monday night, two Jezebel staffers with varying degrees of encyclopedic knowledge about the modern Bachelor universe watched the fourth episode of Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor. The wine was poured, and the virgin jokes flowed. This is their story.

Maria: Last night’s episode was intense for a variety of reasons and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on all of them. We open at the mansion where drama reigns: Hannah B. is still complaining about Caelynn, and when Chris Harrison—a man whose sole job is remembering the names of 30 blonde women—walks into the room to address it, he gets their names mixed up. Soon the ladies are informed that they will head to Singapore, or, in the words of Colton, the city with “the lights, the buildings... everything.” Tayshia, a woman we haven’t seen much of and who I just learned is a 28-year-old phlebotomist, scores the first one-on-one date. After a quick cut to Colton posing as a vlogger for the second time this season, we see the pair strolling on a beach, smooching and splish-splashing around until he suggests they bungee jump.

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Lisa: It definitely did not look like either of them actually wanted to go bungee jumping by the time they realized how high up they were, but I would have gladly taken their place. Does anyone reading this want to fly me to Singapore, real quick?

After Tayshia and Colton’s surprisingly charming one-on-one, we move onto a group date filled with leeches, exotic foods and only slightly racist commentary (like Courtney asking if the food was FDA-approved). Colton and Cassie visit a fortune teller and are told that Cassie is Colton’s sister in a past life. So we learn that even though Colton hasn’t had sex yet, he isn’t closing the door on incest. Nice.

Demi snags the group date rose after confiding in Colton about her mom being released from federal prison, but not before being confronted by Courtney, who is upset that Demi chatted with him twice while she even hadn’t tried yet. I’m not a Demi fan but how can Courtney expect to develop a connection with the man she went on TV to date if she can’t even muster the courage to talk to him at all?

Screenshot: The Bachelor/ABC
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Maria: I agree with you. There’s anxiety, and then there’s being too afraid to even approach the man for whom you uprooted your life to go on ABC to meet. Colton’s not taking a headcount after every group date to make sure he’s speaking to everyone, either. I’ll also say I appreciated Demi’s line: “Courtney puts the ‘ass’ in ‘class.’”

Next up: Caelynn’s one-on-one. She gets picked up by a butler and taken to a few high-end designers around Singapore, where Colton showers her with gowns. When she returns back to the hotel, Cassie starts crying out of jealousy. It’s very strange that there were no tears after Tayshia’s day date? Money sucks? When it’s time for dinner with Colton, Caelynn leaves dressed in one of her freshly acquired dresses.

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The mood immediately shifts when they sit down together. Caelynn reveals to Colton that she was sexually assaulted in college. Perhaps because Colton makes her feel safe, she is perfectly comfortable describing the assault in detail: the party sophomore year in October 2014, the laughter and the photographs and the Snapchats, the “shame” and “guilt” she expresses feeling then, the pain she continues to experience now, and the justice she was so adamant about receiving. That she was turned away from a hospital after her assault was so harrowing to hear. It did seem like Colton was really listening and attempting to connect with her, but his response of (hopefully unintentionally?) outing an ex as a survivor of sexual violence was not great.

Lisa: I was totally blown away by Caelynn and Colton’s conversation, one of the most genuinely emotional moments I can remember in all my history of watching The Bachelor. As someone who has continuously struggled with if, when, and how to reveal the details of my sexual assault to a partner, I commend Caelynn’s ability to reveal her truth at this early stage. Initially it did seem like Colton was listening, but while I understand that he wanted to show Caelynn he could understand her situation, it felt a little bit like he was trying to claim his ex’s assault story as his own. He goes on to relate her assault story to his virginity, which feels even more irrelevant and a bit too self-serving. But I agree that Caelynn obviously felt safe with him, and how she feels about his reception of her news is really all that matters. Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised by how gracefully the show handled the scene, cutting to a card with RAINN’s info on it before going to commercial.

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Maria: Absolutely. As we discussed in our group chat, I felt Colton was being self-serving as well. I do think there’s some merit in at least trying to articulate how intimacy can change after assault, though he’s not the one to do it. Like, he’d do better to listen and not attempt to empathize?

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After all that, Caelynn entered the cocktail party before the rose ceremony, pulled Hannah B. aside and tried to resolve their conflict. Unfortunately Demi and Courtney couldn’t do the same, and it led to Courtney getting sent home. Well, that, and the fact that she was unable to approach Colton in most date settings.

Lisa: At this point, I don’t really understand how Caelynn didn’t win Miss USA completely. That class!

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Both of Demi’s enemies, Courtney and Tracy, got sent home last night. While I won’t miss Courtney, mainly because I didn’t know who she was until this week and it seems like neither did Colton, I was sad to see Tracy go. That was until I Googled her right after the episode ended and learned that she, like last season’s winner Garrett, needs to stay off Twitter. Maybe that’s good advice for all of us.

Meanwhile, the preview for next week looks absolutely crazy. Heather seems to have her “first” kiss ever, and some shit goes down with our favorite Alaskan cougar, Elyse. Will this be the episode from the season trailer where an exasperated Colton jumps over the fence to escape his fate? Boy, I hope so.

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Screenshot: The Bachelor/ABC

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About the author

Maria Sherman

this is my day job: senior writer at jezebel