On Monday's Bachelorette, Thurston shared in a group date that she was the victim of a sexual assault 10 years ago, saying she ended up "involved in a situation where there wasn't consent." “I know you see me today as this very sex-positive woman who’s very confident. She hasn’t always been here," Thurston said, adding that she tried to form a relationship with her assaulter out of denial about what happened. “When that didn’t work out, for years I had a very unhealthy relationship with sex,” she said. “... And it’s taken me a very long time to get to where I am now in being open and comfortable talking about it, in loving myself and accepting things that I can no longer control.” The disclosure, says Laura Bradley, was powerful and direly needed for a Bachelor franchise that has had trouble tackling sensitive topics. "The conversation was not unprecedented for The Bachelor, but it was the most substantial the franchise has ever had," says Bradley, who recalled that the 2017 Bachelor in Paradise sexual misconduct controversy involving Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson that resulted in Chris Harrison leading a leading a troubling discussion of consent that essentially boiled down to Bachelor in Paradise: We Are Not Liable. "What transpired that year on Bachelor in Paradise is also worth considering alongside Matt James’ recently-botched season," says Bradley. "As disparate as the two scandals might seem on the surface, they both speak to the franchise’s failures in the past to protect its participants. Contestants of color in the Bachelor-verse have consistently dealt with producer ignorance and outright racism, female contestants have endured misogyny, and as Rachel Lindsay and several of James’s contestants can attest, Black women typically wind up faring worst of all. Within that context, Thurston’s discussion Monday night feels like a step forward for a dating franchise that, ironically, needs to demonstrate its emotional intelligence and empathy." Bradley adds: "The conversation Thurston and her contestants shared Monday night embodies the potential of The Bachelorette and series like it when they embrace empathy and authentic storytelling....A lot is riding on Katie Thurston’s season, and it’s hard not to imagine that producers viewed this story as a chance to earn back some goodwill from fans and critics. Had the execution felt cynical, the episode wouldn’t have worked. Thurston has said that before she agreed to become the next Bachelorette, 'I expressed what I wanted with my journey, and I think I was listened to.' The way this conversation unfolded, and especially the degree of preparation and safety Thurston clearly felt throughout, is an encouraging sign that Thurston’s hints about her season were more than empty platitudes...Still, it would be misguided to assume that producers’ lighter touch in Thurston’s season proves the franchise has absorbed the most salient lessons of James’s season."