Bachelor Nation members finally got a break from The Bachelor's beauty queen drama when Colton Underwood selected Miss North Carolina USA, aka Caelynn, for a one-on-one date in the season's first international location of Singapore. Caelynn, a Miss USA runner-up, ran into the Ghost from Pageant Past when Hannah B., Miss Alabama USA, informed the Bachelor of her rocky pageant history with Caelynn. Where you sided on the Miss USA debacle proved unimportant when Colton and Caelynn's conversation on The Bachelor revealed that the 23-year-old is a rape victim.
Fans of The Bachelor are used to the contestants sharing stories of vulnerability to become closer with the lead, but when Caelynn opened up about her past to Colton, it was clear that she was doing so in a move of trust and honesty. Last week, both she and Hannah landed in hot water when Hannah confessed to Colton that she was once friends with Caelynn, her roommate during the Miss USA experience. Instagram photos basically prove that they were indeed friends, but Hannah insisted to Colton that their personalities were so different that if he was attracted to Caelynn, he couldn't be interested in her. Caelynn then claimed that Hannah didn't take well to Caelynn finishing as Miss USA runner-up while the Alabama native didn't even place in a top slot. The details of their feud are still a little unclear, but on this week's date, Caelynn has clearly opened up in a way that sets her apart from her drama with Hannah.
Prior to her date conversation with Colton airing on Jan. 28's Bachelor episode, Caelynn shared her experience with assault with PEOPLE, telling the magazine that she was a college sophomore when several male acquaintances allegedly drugged her and two friends' wine glasses at a party. She told PEOPLE:
My life was flipped upside down. And even though I’ve moved on, it is something I will struggle with forever... I woke up the next morning and I was completely naked in my bed and I knew that something bad had happened... These situations happen when you’re safe. They don’t necessarily happen when you’re walking down a dark alley. It’s when you’re comfortable and when you let your guard down.
In Singapore, Colton first spoiled Caelynn with a shopping spree before the two got to know each other on a more serious level. During the date's night portion, Caelynn prefaced her story by saying that the experience disrupted intimacy in her succeeding in relationships. Speaking of waking up without any memories of the night, Caelynn had a "small memory" of a man in her bed, and her friend then called saying that they were sexually assaulted. While seeking a rape kit, Caelynn was turned away by a hospital, which she explained to PEOPLE was because she was unsure about filing a police report at the time. The second hospital she pursued concluded that her circumstances were inconclusive. Most of the boys tied to the incident were ultimately deemed innocent, but according to Caelynn, one was expelled from school.
As she and her friends all reacted to their trauma differently. Caelynn sought justice, although she initially struggled in telling her family the truth. Understandably, it took her time to be comfortable with men's touches, but she used her platform as Miss North Carolina to speak out about sexual assault. Admitting that she felt safe with Colton, Caelynn's story prompted the former NFL star to open up about a relationship with a woman who was sexually assaulted, which viewers linked to his ex-girlfriend Aly Raisman's accusation of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. To take things full circle, Colton reiterated that Caelynn was safe with him and that his reasons for being a virgin were more complicated than he often explained.
It's not often that The Bachelor takes such a large step into real-world territory, but kudos to Caelynn for bravely discussing such a life-changing experience with both Colton and, consequently, the rest of America. Season 23 of The Bachelor continues on Monday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.