‘The Bachelorette’s’ Katie Thurston on Her Decision to Open Up About Her Sexual Assault Experience

·4-min read

Katie Thurston is just as ready for “The Bachelorette” finale as Bachelor Nation.

“Since the show ended, I kind of stayed home, under a rock a little bit,” Thurston tells Variety. “I do look forward to the finale airing so that I can move forward with my life and not have to hold back on that.”

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The seventeenth Bachelorette first captured audiences attention when she presented Matt James, “The Bachelor” on Season 25, with her vibrator. Over the course of James’ season and now her own, Thurston has stood out with her self-assured composure and kind nature.

She also has proven to never shy away from speaking her mind, but it still came as a surprise when Thurston opened up about her sexual assault experience during a group date on Episode 3. While discussing honesty and accountability, she described being “involved in a situation where there wasn’t consent” that left her with “a very unhealthy relationship with sex.”

“I just want you guys to know I’ve come a long way from who I was 10 years ago and how important consent is,” Thurston told the men. Looking back on the episode, she says that the conversation came up organically.

“I do think it surprised producers,” she says, “because they did not know and those are the things they want to know going into this.”

“I just felt so supported and comforted by these men and they were so open with sharing their stories that I felt that I owed it, not only to them, but to myself to just kind of start those conversations that are so important, not only for us, but Bachelor Nation, as they watch this,” she continues.

Thurston is also among Bachelor alumni who spoke up about their concerns with former host Chris Harrison. In June, Variety reported she refused to star in the current season if he was to be the host. She sees her actions as just platforming what changes Bachelor Nation alumni want to see.

“What I loved is that the show has been very supportive of those changes that need to be made, and so to have Tayshia [Adams] and Kaitlyn [Bristowe] there to support me, it was a better outcome than I could have expected,” Thurston says.

“I actually loved this format,” she adds. “I don’t know how it’s going to work going forward, but to be able to have previous bachelorettes helping me, I don’t think anyone else could offer me the support and guidance like they could.”

ABC tapped Adams and Bristowe to serve as temporary co-hosts following Harrison’s full departure from the franchise. It’s likely the permanent new host won’t be named until the next season of “The Bachelor,” which starts production in September and will air in January 2022. As of June, there was a possibility the pair could return for “The Bachelorette” Season 18,” which premieres Oct. 19.

“I would be ecstatic and absolutely blessed to have the opportunity to help on Michelle’s season,” Adams says. “I have not been given that information yet, but hopefully it continues on.”

“We bring a whole new perspective to the show where we are two people who have gone through this before, Bristowe adds. “We’re able to have conversations that a normal, traditional host wouldn’t be able to have, able to make Katie or whoever the Bachelorette is a little more comfortable.”

Bachelor Nation will have to wait until Aug. 9 to know Thurston’s fate when it comes to finding love on her season. In the meantime, though, she acknowledges just how emotionally taxing the show’s dating process is.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Did you have fun?’ And I just look at them and want to scream — because it’s very hard,” she says. “You’re forming very strong relationships and you’re breaking people’s hearts and you’re trying to navigate this thing in such a short time and ‘fun’ is not the first word I would use to describe my experience.”

“The Bachelorette” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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