The Bachelor P*ssed me Off Last Week—Here's Why.

Trigger Warning—Sexual Assault (See what I did there?) 

 

The Bachelor is in my blood. I’m only partially kidding on that one.

I grew up watching Chris Harrison and cocktail parties before I even knew what a cocktail was. This show has always been my Monday nights, cuddled up with my mom and my sister or my best friend and a glass of sparkling cider. It’s cheesy and about as “basic” as it gets, I know, but I truly do love it. The Bachelor gives me something to look forward to each week, a time to just decompress and let loose over something so ridiculous that it’s relaxing.

Last week, though, as I gathered ‘round the television with my gal pals, I got way more than I had bargained for. Caelynn, one of the contestants this season, spoke candidly with Bachelor Colton about her experiences with sexual assault, giving the gruesome details of the event as well as descriptions of how it affected her in her future relationships.

Let me make one thing clear: I’m beyond proud of Caelynn for this. Her bravery is unmatched. Her strength is absolutely dumbfounding.

Yet, as much as I wish that I could support ABC in their decision to air this episode, I just can’t.

I, myself, am a survivor of sexual assault and aggression, and I, too, write and speak openly about my struggles and how I’m overcoming them. Nothing is more important in the reduction of stigma than conversation. But, as I thought everybody knew by now, there’s a certain way to handle this very fragile subject matter. And it’s not by tossing it around between cat fights and rose ceremonies, without a single warning.

There was absolutely no trigger warning, at the beginning of the show or the segment, that would allow those of us with wounds still tender from our own assaults to protect ourselves and our mental health. It isn’t that hard to add a little disclaimer before going on (and on, and on, and on!) about a graphic sexual assault. I wish I had known to step away. I wish I hadn’t missed the next ten minutes of the show trying to regain control of my mind in the bathroom. But I didn’t know, and I did end up struggling with PTSD symptoms because of it.

I want to make it clear that I think that the Bachelor did many things right last week. They nationally broadcasted a survivor’s story and got the truth about the repercussions of rape out to so, so many that might need to develop either understanding of others or the strength to speak their own truths. After the segment, they put up the number of a resource for survivors needing help. All that was missing was the incredibly simple, yet incredibly vital presence of a trigger warning. And for me, honestly, that just about ruined the whole thing.

What ABC did last week was highly irresponsible and shows that as much progress as we’ve made as a society, it simply isn’t enough. Life with PTSD from assault is not easy, and I want to be able to enjoy my favorite show without having to worry about being sent into a spiral. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

As long as we keep disrespecting survivors and their experiences in this way, as if they aren’t worthy of the fragility that they feel, we are doing something very, very wrong.

I've said it before and I’ll say it again: use a damn trigger warning.