'The Bachelorette' star Katie Thurston reveals how she crawled out of a deep hole after sexual assault and "hardest part" of sharing her story on TV
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/27/2021
The Bachelorette star Katie Thurston has revealed how long her unhealthy relationship with sex lasted after being sexually assaulted 10 years ago, how she crawled out of that dark hole, and the "hardest part" of sharing her personal story on the show.
Katie appeared on this week's episode of Talking It Out with co-hosts and The Bachelorette alums Mike Johnson and Bryan Abasolo and revealed that her non-consensual sexual encounter while drinking on New Year's Eve a decade ago totally derailed her sex life for a while.
"I think for at least five years after the [incident], I did not enjoy having sex. I just had this really negative relationship with it," Katie revealed.
"But of course, when you're in a relationship, it's important to have this chemistry. It kind of creates this Domino affect of like, 'Well, he has his needs and I want to give him that.' But then you're forcing it, or when you're not having sex, he's angry."
Katie elaborated, "And you're digging this hole deeper and deeper by forcing it or fighting about it."
Katie said she had to learn how to communicate with her partner about sex expectations and "how to set boundaries for each other" in order to not dislike or resent having sex with a man.
"It took time, a lot of time, and a lot of failed relationships," she noted. "A lot of them were centered around sex being an issue... I was in this vicious cycle of failed relationships because of the relationship I had with sex."
Katie then explained how she's progressed over the years into being the sex-positive woman that she is today.
"I want to say it was probably within the last three years that I finally was very firm in my decisions in terms of like, if I did not want to have sex, I said 'no' and I meant it. I was never going to force myself to do anything for a man that I didn't want to do," Katie shared.
"And I think that was probably the first step to building this healthy relationship. If you start forcing yourself to have sex when you don't want to, then your body and your mind, you start to create this negative association with sex in general and you're just setting yourself up for failure."
Katie said she subsequently started to "dig deeper and deeper" into herself and her issues as she got older.
"At 27, 28, 29 [years old], I was like, 'I need to figure my sh-t out! What's wrong?' There's not a book that I read or some documentary I watched. It's just, like, self-reflection," Katie said.
"I think that especially happened in the last year with the pandemic, people are reflecting a lot on their lives and where they're at and what they need to do to make it better."
Katie clarified, "And so for me, it took 10 years of self-reflection and growth to figure out how to have a healthy relationship with myself, with sex, with my future partner."
Katie recalled "the hardest part" of sharing her sexual-assault story during a Bachelorette group date on national television was knowing she'd have to tell her mother some time before the June 21 episode aired.
"In those moments of when it was happening, I didn't have anyone to talk to because you feel ashamed, you feel dirty, you feel like it's your fault. And then moving forward, I have two girlfriends who know about it, and that's it," Katie admitted.
Katie insisted she "didn't even expect" to bring up the incident during that group-date setting and had no idea what type of impact it would have.
"In some ways, it's so liberating to take this negative moment and make it such a positive, and start these conversations and educate people on their resources and know that they are not alone and this has happened to so many men and women but people don't talk about it because they feel ashamed and embarrassed," Katie explained.
"All I hope with, you know, me sharing my story [is] that men and women who have gone through similar experiences can start talking about something they've gone through. Or, you know, parents can talk to their kids about what consent is."
Katie also revealed new details of the sexual assault in an interview with Glamour, including what had happened that night and why she attempted to date the offender shortly after the incident.