The Bachelor, 27, praised both women for opening up about their separate sexual assault stories while speaking exclusively to Us Weekly at his season’s Women Tell All event on Friday, February 22.
“I think in regards to my relationship with Caelynn, having that safety to really open up and feel safe and secure in our relationship, to be able to rely on one another, was what was part of our relationship that made it so special, that made it that much harder at the end to say goodbye,” Underwood revealed to Us, noting that it was “hard and devastating” to hear that Caelynn, 23, was sexually assaulted.
The former Miss North Carolina — who was eliminated after her hometown date on February 25 — told the NFL player about what had happened to her during their first one-on-one date on the January 28 episode. Underwood comforted her by explaining that he had “been on the other side of it|” as his “first love,” Raisman, whom he did not name on the show, had also been sexually abused.
“It’s something that’s so much bigger than this television show, so much bigger than that date and, you know, [Caelynn’s] incredibly brave,” he told Us. “Aly’s incredibly brave and anybody who has a voice and a platform and stands up for themselves [is too]. … They’re incredible people and I can’t say enough good things about Caelynn and Aly.”
Underwood dated the Olympic gold medalist, 24, from August 2016 to April 2017. In January 2018, she testified against former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar, who was later sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting multiple women.
The Legacy Foundation owner’s experience supporting Raisman helped him create a safe space for Caelynn. “I’m always scared to open up with anyone about this, whether it be a relationship, whether it be a friendship, just because people do freeze,” the Miss USA runner-up exclusively told Us on Friday. “And I get it. It’s a hard thing, a hard topic to talk about and a hard thing to tackle. But Colton … was warm, he was comforting and he told me, ‘You’re safe with me.’ And that was the most important thing and I think that’s what every survivor needs to hear.”
Caelynn added that she hasn’t “heard from Aly,” but she has “heard from other survivors” after sharing her story.
The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET and the Women Tell All special airs on Tuesday, March 5.