IT WAS NOT OKAY

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Guest Post: Content Warning–description of nonphysical abuse. If this may be triggering to you, please read with caution.
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[I was at a vulnerable time in my life when I met Chad (name changed). I was graduating from college with a bachelor’s of psychology and had no idea what was next. We met at a bar one night through mutual friends and from there the relationship raced forward at full speed. We said I love you in two weeks and started spending all of our time together.

Some might find this to be a cute love story. I now see the red flags, Hind sight is 20/20. Chad was love-bombing me or trying to get me hooked into the relationship before I really knew him or even knew what I wanted. I was so happy to start a new relationship that I didn’t keep up with my friends and family and through this isolation I didn’t really get to see him for who he was. I ignored the red flags like him not having a car, the fact that he dropped out of college and lived with friends (and wasn’t paying rent). He seemed like he had it together after all. He had a job at a warehouse making over $20 an hour.  I didn’t know the car he was driving was his friends. I didn’t know anything about his family or his past. He didn’t try to get to know my family.

These are all things I can look back on now and identify as problems. However, in the moment I didn’t see any of it…

We continued dating and because I didn’t know where to live and didn’t want to run home to Mom and Dad, I moved in with Chad. This is when the financial abuse started to creep in. He didn’t have a car so I drove him to work. He was always stressed about life and working so much that he turned to gambling in hopes his winnings would turn his life around. When the money ran out he would beg me to take out cash. And I did because I didn’t want him to be mad at me. Not giving him the money would lead to a blow up.

This pattern continued. My college graduation day was finally here and Chad was, of course, out of town for work. He said he would come but somehow managed to get out of meeting my family (as usual). He would sugar coat this by saying things like they won’t think I’m good enough to make me feel guilty. So I played along.

I then flew out to Colorado where Chad was working and he took me on a week-long vacation telling me how much he loved the area. I did too; I had always dreamed of moving to another state. After we returned from the trip, Chad said he wanted to move to Colorado. He promised that he would save money and help pay to get an apartment there. This lead to him going out of state more for work. Of course, Chad didn’t save the money, in fact, he called me asking for money all the time as he continued to gamble. I was worried about him so I would send the cash. He would swear it was for food or gas and then 10 min later call back asking for more because he just spent it at the casino.

Chad drove back from New York on fumes, stopping at casinos along the way to win enough gas money to get back. Chad was clearly demonstrating how reckless he was willing to be with his own life and I didn’t see it. I wanted to leave him then but I couldn’t. I now know that it often takes women an average of 7 times to leave an abusive partner. I was confused at the time and didn’t have the knowledge I have now to know that this was abuse. I thought because he wasn’t hitting me that everything was ok. IT WAS NOT OK. No one deserved to be abused financially, verbally, physically emotionally or in any form.

I spent two years in Colorado living with Chad and I wish I could say things got better but they didn’t. He continued to follow a pattern that I now know to be the cycle of abuse. He would use me for money, be reckless, and financially rely on me. Then he would work really hard for a week and take me to dinner or do something nice to make up for it. Then he would take my credit card and pay all his bills. Then he would be sorry and would take me hiking. Then he would max out my credit card. Then he would find money to buy me dog to show he was sorry. This relationship emotionally drained me until one day I couldn’t do it anymore. I had been so isolated that the idea of returning home to my parents was scary. I was so isolated that I thought they wouldn’t help me get home. I quit talking to all of my friends because he told me to. I felt completely alone. This is what he wanted: for me to be so isolated that I didn’t have a way out.

One day after not hearing from me, my Dad called crying. He had flown to Colorado with my Mom. I was so nervous to see them and embarrassed to admit that I had no money and needed help. I told them I was fine and that they could go home. I wanted to leave him but I had too much pride at this point and didn’t want to admit that moving with him was a mistake, so I stayed.

Finally a week later I realized I was harming myself for the sake of my pride and it was time to come home. Chad got physical for the first time ever. He fought me for the possessions he thought he could get money for and when that didn’t work, he cried. I left him most of my things.

I moved home with what little possessions I had in my vehicle, a maxed out credit card, and various other debts that were now drowning me. My parents helped pay for me to start seeing a counselor and we worked on rebuilding our relationship. I then got an attorney and found out filing bankruptcy was my best option. All of this took months and months but I can finally say I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I looked up Chad once. He went home, starting living with someone else right away, and got a new girlfriend. This didn’t affect him. However the damage it did to myself and my family will last a lifetime. Because of Safe Passage I have gained the knowledge and support to truly identify what was going on in my relationship and it has helped me to move on. I thank this organization so much for the work they do because I know just how important it is.]

If you’ve experienced abuse, it is not your fault and you are not alone. Safe Passage is available 24/7 at 815-756-5228 or text us 24/7 at 815-393-1995.

Will You Accept This Rant? March 2

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Hello and welcome to all our ranters, readers, and people who just weren’t getting enough yelling from the Democratic debates!

Welcome to the Women Tell All recap! This episode is a chance for the women of the season to share their side of the story, explain themselves, and question the lead.  It can be illuminating and interesting as heck!  Last night, however, it was mostly just exhausting. But if you love people screaming over one another and a breakdown in basic civility, read on!

Women Tell All Abc GIF by The Bachelor
All right, let’s dive in.

Like always,

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Unlike most WTA episodes, we started with the rose ceremony that wrapped up Fantasy Suite week.  Peter gave the first rose to Hannah Ann and then the second to Madi. Two things from this…Peter CLEARLY is so into Madi and so worried about if she’ll stick around to be his final choice.  It was so uncomfortable for Hannah Ann (and all of us watching from the comfort of our sofas) to see how obviously in love with Madi he is.  It almost felt heartless or at least clueless for him to so obviously be ignoring Hannah Ann’s presence during these moments with Madi.

Second thing…Victoria F went home!  A lot of people were celebrating last night and with good reason. We genuinely hope that she has learned from this experience, can look back on her actions and attitudes, and grow into healthier relationships in the future.  She’s got some HEAVY baggage to unpack, but if there is one thing we know, it is that people can change. No one is born abusive.  No one is inherently bad.  We are all taught healthier or less healthy ways of navigating the world. I hope this experience taught Victoria to take some responsibility and work on herself before she jumps into her next jOuRNeY to fInd LOve.

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I’m sure we’ll see you in Paradise, Victoria.

As we moved into the actual Women Tell All portion of the evening, there were two HUGE themes that landed for us: accountability and growth (or the lack thereof) and bullying. We’re going to talk about both so STRAP IN!

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We’ll miss these airplane puns next season.

No one came out of this season smelling like a rose.  Even Madison, a long-time favorite, is being dragged in the press by Chris Harrison for her “not-an-ultimatum”.  There were moments for all the girls that I’m sure they wish they could take back.  The difference we saw last night was that some of the girls seemed to be ready to apologize and move forward and some seemed ready to double-down.

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Same, Tammy.  Same.

Victoria P kicked off the gas-lighting, trying to reframe her experience with Alayah as a “weird” personality quirk, rather than an attempt to throw her competition under the bus. Tammy continued the trend, trying to rewrite Bachelor history.  She wasn’t rude or hurtful.  She was concerned.  She wasn’t spreading rumors; she was looking out for her housemates!  She didn’t call Kelsey an alcoholic; she said she had “alcoholic tendencies”.

This is a really problematic trend you often see in abusive behaviors.  Abusers will often rewrite history, even to the point of believing it themselves, to prop up their belief that they aren’t the bad one. They aren’t the bad guy.  Maybe even they are the VICTIM! When mentally abusive relationships go on long enough, you can almost start to feel like you are going crazy.  You don’t even know if you can trust yourself because you are getting SUCH mixed messages from a person you care about as they do everything they can to avoid accountability.

On the other end of the spectrum, you had people like Alayah, Kelsey, and even Victoria F, admitting that they screwed up. Alayah apologized to the other girls for “word vomiting” and speaking without thinking. Kelsey apologized for being WAY too over the top about ChampagneGate.

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One last time.

Even Peter acknowledged that he is getting a lot of criticism for how he handled his season and that he is taking that criticism as an opportunity to grow.  That is really what life is all about.  None of us are perfect.  We all make mistakes.  We all were raised in environments and systems that set us up for failure in relationships.  We can’t expect perfection, but what we can expect from ourselves and our partners is accountability and growth.  Our responsibility is to know that no one, no matter how much they love us, is required to put up with abuse AND our responsibility is to listen when people call us out and take that as an opportunity to change and grow.

We saw a lot of growth from a lot of women (and a little from Peter) this season.  That is a step in the right direction.  That is an airplane at the right gate.  That is a flight that is on-time out of O’Hare.  Whatever the metaphor, you get it.

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That brings us to the last thing we HAVE to address. Bachelor Nation is a mess, y’all.  There is so much racism, misogyny, and hatred in this community. We can’t let this be normalized.  Kudos to Chris and TPTB for opening up the conversation and thank you SO MUCH to Rachel for her courage in leading such a difficult and necessary conversation.

ALL (I think I can feel confident saying all.  Idk, maybe not Josh…he’s too scary) or nearly ALL members of Bachelor/Bachelorette/BIP/etc. casts get messages of hate.  They are called horrible names.  People attack their character.  People attack their children.  People send hateful messages to their family and friends, people who never signed up for this! It has to stop.  No matter what someone did on this show, they do not deserve to be bullied or harassed.  Just because it happens online does not make it any less scary.  Many Bachelor contestants have been harassed out of a job or have had concerns about their safety.  I don’t care how annoying Tammy was this season, she shouldn’t be harassed.  I don’t care if Victoria F slept with 100 married men, she shouldn’t be harassed.  I don’t care if Alayah is literally a snake who transfigured herself into the shape of a woman to sow chaos in the Bachelor Mansion, she shouldn’t be harassed.

And we HAVE to admit that happens on a way deeper level and a much more violent scale for people of color in Bachelor Nation.  It is racism, plain and simple. Just like our work, Bachelor Nation doesn’t exist in a bubble outside the racism that is built into the American system.  We don’t do our clients any favors by ignoring the fact that it is SO MUCH HARDER for survivors of color to access justice. We have to admit and examine the ways that race has intersected with violence and oppression throughout the entire history of the world.  This is not just about one type of violence.  This is not just about online bullying and harassment.  This is about admitting that the system is broken and that we all MUST do better.

Like the women on Peter’s season, we can bury our heads in the sand and double-down on pretending like everything is fine.  Or we can admit that we’ve all made mistakes and we can put in the work to grow, change, and be better.

If we do that, we’ll make a safer, healthier, and better world for all of us.

 

Will You Accept This Rant? February 17

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Hello hello hello to all our returning readers, our ranters, and to Victoria F’s dog, Buxton!


We had a similar reaction to this week’s episode.

As always, here’s a reminder about what we’re up to:

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV) As a fun bonus this week, our video is sideways on Facebook and someone accidentally gets hit in the face with a rose!

This week was all about the drama, so let’s not wait one more second!


Who wants drama?  Nobody.  Us.

We’ll start with a quick recap off all the hometown dates in the order shown by production before we dive into the drama:

  • Knoxville, TN: Hannah Ann
    Hannah Ann takes Peter ax-throwing so he can prove that he’s a “tough guy” to Hannah Ann’s father who works in forestry. Cool.  When meeting Dad later on that evening, he seems wholly unimpressed, so this might not have worked out as planned.
  • Des Moines, IA: Kelsey
    Kelsey and Peter foot-stomp some grapes into a signature wine.  She tells him she loves him and they drink the Toe Pinot. That’s really all there is to report.
  • Auburn, AL: Madi
    Madi takes Peter to explore Auburn University and trounces him in a friendly game of HORSE. Charles Barkley tells him to treat Madi right and Madi’s family obsesses over whether she’s told Peter that she’s a virgin.
  • Virginia Beach, CA: Victoria F
    DRAMA. Victoria meets Peter on a beach and almost loses her dog while making out with Peter. They take some old-timey pictures and dance to a live country-music performance that’s just a little too on-the-nose with lyrics like “I don’t want easy; I want crazy.” Before leaving, Peter is caught by an old ex, Merisa, who warns him that Victoria isn’t a good fit for him.  Merisa tells him Victoria has a reputation for ruining relationships, a negative personality, and just generally not the right fit for a guy like him. Peter brings this up to Victoria before meeting her family and all hell breaks loose. Peter heads back to his hotel room rather than sit through what would have been THE MOST AWKWARD FAMILY DINNER EVER.

The episode ended with a rose ceremony.  Peter sent Kelsey back home to Des Moines.  Next week is the fantasy suites and the previews show we’re not done with the drama yet!


We’ll miss you, Kelsey!

Of course, we have to talk about the Victoria F situation and we’ll get to that, but we want to take a minute to address a few other more subtle things that happened this episode.

First, the idea that Peter has to be some kind of “tough guy” to impress Hannah Ann’s dad. We see this time and time again that just as girls are expected to look and behave a certain way to be accepted, guys get forced into their own box too. Tony Porter calls this the “Man Box” (Watch his Ted Talk!) and Jackson Katz calls it the “Tough Guise”. Men are expected to be unemotional, providers, physically intimidating, and even violent.  Men aren’t often told that it is okay to have feelings and to be empathetic and kind. Peter doesn’t strike us as the ax-throwing type and that is completely fine.  Everyone should be free to be who they are, not feel forced to live out a stereotype based on their gender.

The other subtle attitude that popped up was the idea that the highest ideal a woman can strive for is a relationship with a man.  You might be able to guess it from our ranting last week, but this came up in Madi’s family.  We talked last week about purity culture, so I won’t rehash that except to say that staying a virgin until marriage is a CHOICE.  It is a totally great choice to make if it feels empowering or important to you, but it is not an inherently better or safer choice than choosing to have sex with another adult who is enthusiastically consenting.  “Saving yourself for marriage” is totally cool; you do you! But choosing to have sex (or being a victim of sexual assault or abuse) does not make you any less valuable.  You are not broken.  You matter.

Click this link and watch this video right now.  

OKAY.

Getting off our soapbox there and climbing onto another soapbox…

Madi’s dad, Chad, mentions that he and Madi’s mom have been praying for Madi’s husband since Madi was an infant.  Do I think that this makes Chad and his wife bad people?  Do I think they had bad intentions or wanted to hurt their daughter?  Absolutely not.  Do I think this attitude props up our patriarchal system that harms women, even if unintentionally?  Absolutely yes. 

What if Madi realized growing up that she was bisexual or a lesbian?  What if she fell in love with a woman or someone who was nonbinary? Would she feel safe to come out to her family, knowing that they’d been praying for her husband since she’d been born?
OR
What if Madi met a man, fell in love, got married, and then started getting abused?  Would she feel confident and safe to leave that relationship, knowing that her family would always support her?  Or would she worry that she had “failed” in the most important aspect of her life, her relationship?

If you are the praying type, pray for your daughter to be kind.  Pray for your daughter to be brave.  Pray for your daughter to be smart, to be empathetic, to be a leader, to be a world-changing woman.  Pray for her to be so much more than “just” a wife. Make sure your daughters know that the most important thing isn’t if or who they marry.  They are so much more than that.


Thank you Hasan Minaj.

Okay…onto the main event. VICTORIA F!

In our ABC book of Abusive Behaviors, G stands for GASLIGHTING! And underneath G for Gaslighting?  A big ol’ picture of Victoria F. Funny enough, she’s pictured under M for Manipulation as well.

When things are going her way, Victoria is happy as a clam.
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Sorry not sorry

But as soon as things aren’t going her way, Victoria pulls out all the stops to manipulate Peter until she gets what she wants. Last night, Peter had some concerning information brought to him by an ex-girlfriend.  He very reasonably wanted to sit down with Victoria and discuss what he heard.  He wasn’t accusing her of anything or calling her names, but just looking to have a much-needed conversation. But just like all the other “tough conversations” they had, as soon as Victoria felt the power shift away from her, she went into defensive mode.

  • Victoria said that it was “unfair” that Peter brought this up.  (Wouldn’t it be more unfair for him to continue to blindly pursue this relationship without giving her a chance to air her side of the story?)
  • Victoria made herself seem like the victim, flipping the narrative that this was Peter’s fault for bringing this up at a bad time. (“You decided that what Merissa told you is more important than meeting my entire family.”-Victoria making it seem like PETER is at fault for bringing this up. When were you supposed to talk about this?  Should he just ignore all the problems and red flags so that it doesn’t inconvenience you?)
  • “I’m trying really  hard.  I’ve never tried this hard in a relationship.” (Again rough quote from last night, but Victoria claiming that she is putting in the work without showing any of the receipts.  What have we seen that shows she is trying?  You can’t just say that you are doing things.  You have to actually do them.)
  • Peter tries to talk things out and make sense of the situation.  Victoria’s response: “You just came in here to act like that…are you kidding me?” “I like adore you. I was going to tell you tonight that I’m falling in love with you.  How am I supposed to do that now?” “I had high hopes for you to meet my family and I’m just so disappointed.” (She’s blaming him and hoping to make him feel guilty, so he ignores his gut feeling about her being the wrong person.)

And Peter ends up apologizing to her. He apologizes if she felt like he was attacking or accusing her.  He apologizes for ruining the evening.

He had a TOTALLY normal reaction to getting some disturbing news about a love interest he is really just starting to get to know.  His reaction was reasonable and rational.  He tried to get to the bottom of things.  But Victoria F’s manipulation and turning-the-tables confused him until he couldn’t trust his gut or his heart and he ends up keeping her around for another week.

Our Rose for this week goes to Merisa for being the friend who would reach out and let someone know that they might not be seeing all sides of the situation.  This wasn’t just messy gossip or sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.  This was a chance to be a positive bystander, check-in on a friend, and let them know they may be stuck in a relationship that is hurting them.  Be there for your friends.  Reach out.  Let them know they aren’t alone and that they deserve a love that doesn’t gaslight or manipulate.  They deserve a relationship that doesn’t hurt all the time.

If you’re that friend and you need advice on how to get through, give us a call.  We’re always here.  815-756-5228.

Will You Accept This Rant? February 11

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Hello again to all our readers and fellow ranters!  And a special hello to everyone who knows the difference between alpacas and llamas!

Image outlining the differences between llamas and alpacasWe’re Team Llama over here and we hope you are too.

Per usual, here’s a reminder about what we’re up to:

We’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Love is really starting to take flight, folks!  Here we go!

Lima, Peru:

  • Madi’s Second 1-on-1
    Madi and Peter went fishing and caught some feelings! Over dinner, Madi shared how important faith is to her and Peter told her he was falling in love.

    Madi hit a slam dunk with this relationship! (Did we do sports right?)

  • Natasha’s First 1-on-1
    Peter and Natasha explore the city and Peter sends Natasha home at dinner.  Raise your hand if you were surprised?  Anyone?
  • Kelsey’s Second 1-on-1
    Kelsey and Peter explore the countryside on ATV (as if Peter isn’t the biggest accident-prone goofball who just healed from cutting his head open in a golf cart accident), do some cardio up a mountainside, and talk about their futures.
  • 3-on-1 date with Kelley, Victoria F, Hannah Ann (and Peter)
    The three women head to a park to talk with Peter. We are tricked for a few minutes into thinking Peter might do the right thing and send notoriously messy Victoria home, but no.  Hannah Ann and Victoria F get roses and Kelley heads home after enjoying a few weeks of all-inclusive vacationing.

    Gone but not forgotten: our chill queen Kelley

 

We don’t even have time to unpack everything that went on this week.  Oh wait…that is the entire point of us doing this?  Okay.  Barstool Trent, roll that suitcase back on in here.  We’ve got some unpacking to do!

We feel like we FINALLY got to see some genuine connection-building this episode instead of just drama on drama on drama.  We really got to see the relationships that are forming.  Since next week is hometown dates, we can only say, it’s about darn time!

Peter and Madison’s date showed that they continue to have one of the strongest connections here. Peter talked about the close friendship he feels with Madi and potential for that friendship to turn into love. It is easy to see when watching them that this relationship has some legs to it.

Peter gets WAY too into looking for a relationship that is hard or emotional or challenging.  He chases Victoria F because he thinks that the problems they are having signal a deep relationship, rather than an unhealthy one. He thought that Hannah Ann crying meant that she was invested in the relationship. He sent home the two most level-headed women left (RIP Natasha and Kelley) because they used words like “fun and easy” to describe their connection. Peter is too obsessed with the romcom trope that relationships have to be hard to be real; that you have to fight for the one you love.

The only exception to this seems to be his relationship with Madi.  We get to see them having fun, being goofy, AND building their connection. It is an important reminder to not just look for a partner who isn’t abusive, but actively look for a relationship (and BE a partner) that makes you better. You deserve more than to just not be hurt.  You deserve to be loved, challenged, encouraged, and supported. Look for the green flags, not just the red ones.

We also saw Peter and Madi tackle some tougher conversation topics over dinner. We’ve gotten past the standard Bachelor sob stories and now they are finally getting to talk about the things that help you know if you really can build a life with someone outside the Bachelor Bubble.

Peter and Madi discuss their religious beliefs and how important it is to Madi to have a partner who values faith the way she does. We’re not sure yet if Peter is on the same page with her or not (our guess is not), but it was good that they had that conversation instead of just assuming. You know what happens when you assume.

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Kelsey and Peter continued this trend by having a conversation about kids and family.  And not just the standard “do you want kids?” conversation, but Kelsey opened up what a work/life balance would look like for her as a future mom. Again, you can’t assume that you and your partner are on the same page or that you will be able to change their mind about something so important. And if you can’t have those kinds of important conversations with a partner, it might be worth asking if this relationship is worth investing in. That is a pretty big red flag.

As we look forward to next week, we’ll be heading to hometown dates. This might be my favorite week of the season as you really get a chance to see where someone came from and how that might be shaping who they are as a person.  From the preview it looks like we’ll see more drama with Victoria F and a peak into how Madi’s faith (and her virginity) might cause some turbulence on her journey.

We also have to give our reminder, because we’re sure the producers are going to lean HARD into this tired Bachelor trope, but being a Christian is not synonymous with being a virgin.  We saw SO MUCH of the shaming, manipulative, abusive, toxic purity culture with Luke P and we’re over it.  You can have sex or not have sex.  It is your body and your choice.  The choice that you make cannot and will not impact who you are as a person or your value.  Virginity is a social construct, not a moral or religious imperative. This idea has been used for millenia to police women and shame and silence survivors of sexual assault.  We’re fed up with it and we’re not going to tolerate it.  So get ready for more ranting.

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When one llama gif isn’t enough to fully express our frustration at toxic purity culture

Our thorn for this week goes to *drumroll* Victoria F!  Congratulations Victoria on being a multi-thorn winner this season!  Her gaslighting and manipulation of Peter are getting a BIG THUMBS DOWN from us.

Our rose this week goes, of course, to our confident queens: Natasha and Kelley.  You know your worth and you didn’t let Peter get you down. We’ll miss you next week but we’re glad your out of this mess.

See you next week, Ranters!

Will You Accept This Rant? January 27

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Welcome back to all of you who love Bachelor Nation, hate Bachelor Nation, or love to hate Bachelor Nation!  All are welcome in our tiny corner of this vast and complicated universe of tears, roses, and prematurely popped Champagne bottles.

If you haven’t been following along yet, we’re working to examine and call out our culture of relationships that we see under a microscope in the petri dish that is Bachelor Nation.  Check out our weekly Facebook Live video (clink this link!) to hear all our thoughts and let us know what you’re thinking about this week! Don’t forget, you can always follow along with us on Twitter too! (@Safe_PassageDV)

Strap in, folx!

This week’s drama:

  • Peter’s first one-on-one date with Victoria F: a flight (because Peter is a pilot, remember?!), Cedar Point Amusement Park all to themselves, a private country-music concert, and a romantic dinner.
  • THE PRIVATE COUNTRY MUSIC CONCERT WAS BY VICTORIA F’S EX-BOYFRIEND!

    Or maybe just her one-time hookup but still…well done, producers!
  • Full-tackle football group date: yellow versus pink teams, everybody tied.  I cared almost as much as I do about regular football. Go team.
  • Group date cocktail party: the return of Alayah!  Alayah comes back much to the frustration of literally everyone else but Peter and the ABC execs. (insert dollar eyes emoji here)
  • Post-group date drama: Alayah isn’t happy with having a beef with just ONE Victoria.  She spills the tea (from the internet–Hi Reddit!) on Chase Rice and Victoria F and starts a two-Victoria feud.
  • Second one-on-one date: Peter has a romantic and refreshingly drama-free date with Kelsey in romantic Cleveland, OH.
  • Pre-rose ceremony cocktail party: everyone but Alayah is pissed at Peter and they do not hold back.
  • To be continued: the episode ends with Peter and Victoria P having a conversation about Alayah and it looks like this drama will follow us into next week’s rose ceremony.

We’ve got a whole suitcase to unpack with all this drama but the major revelation for one of our WYATR hosts is that ABC likes to leave you on a cliff-hanger instead of getting down to the rose ceremony each episode. Get used to it, Kendal!

Our main takeaways from this week were:

  • Relationships end and we’re shaped by  our history.
  • Women and femmes are defined by so much more than our appearance.
  • Emotional manipulation is very serious and far too common.
  • Roller-coasters are for amusement parks, not relationships.

Victoria F was SHOOK to see her ex, Chase Rice, was the surprise performer at her date with Peter. TBF, Chase Rice seemed to be pretty surprised to see her as well. She went into a pretty full meltdown over how she would tell Peter that they were just serenaded by her ex. If we are honest about the nature of relationships, the vast vast majority of us will have an ex in our history. Very few of us meet one person and stay with them for the rest of our lives and very few healthy relationships are built that way.  It is completely normal to date someone, enjoy your time together, and eventually move on from that relationship. We all have relationships (romantic, platonic, physical, familial, or otherwise) that have shaped us into who we are today.  For better or for worse, we’re impacted by the people we’ve known and especially by the people we’ve loved. If your partner is too jealous to acknowledge your past or is threatened by your past to the point where they would be angry at a reminder of your previous relationships, that romantic connection is headed nowhere good. We were so happy to see Peter’s healthy and silly reaction to Victoria’s news showing none of the possessiveness or control a jealous partner might have.


He wasn’t mad, just a little slow to figure it out.

Staying on the same date, we were floored to hear Victoria’s toast to their future kids who would have “hot moms and successful dads.”  This throwaway moment in the episode highlights how often women are told, in obvious and in subtle ways, that the most important thing they offer to the world, to their families, to their communities is their beauty. Women can be conventionally attractive and that’s fine.  Wear make-up, wear heels, dress up, go high-femme by ALL means. But just know that this doesn’t make you a better or worse person; it doesn’t define you at all.  I hope Victoria knows that she can be so much more to her partner and her children than just a MILF. I also hope young boys watching know that their worth isn’t measured by their career success.  Just like women are put in a box of being judged by our appearance, men are often taught that their value lies solely in being a “provider”. None of us should be raised in a box and all of us should use all our strength to break down those binaries and stereotypes at every opportunity!


My face every time someone reinforces gender stereotypes.

From one Victoria to the next, a main theme of this episode was whether or not Peter could or should trust Victoria P.  Her conflict with Alayah from last week continued (helped by the producers manufacturing Alayah’s return, kudos on that drama guys!) and Peter was forced to decide if he trusted Alayah’s story or Victoria P’s. While I’m no hardcore #TeamAlayah stan, I have to say that she laid out her case to Peter with facts and receipts.  Victoria P’s ongoing conversations with Peter seemed to rely wholly on her telling him to trust her because of their connection and trust her because she’s been vulnerable with him.  She’s not telling him to trust her because she’s been honest or trust her because she cares for him.  She’s almost threatening to punish him for not trusting her, with or without evidence. She’s almost saying that him even questioning her is hurting their connection. This is subtle gaslighting but it is definitely gaslighting or if we’re being generous, gaslighting-adjacent.  Trust is important in relationships but trust should never be weaponized. Your partner should never bully you or punish you for being concerned by the facts that are in front of you.  “You should trust me no matter what.” “I can’t believe you would question me even though I’ve done X, Y, and Z for you.” “If you really loved me, you would believe me, not her.”  Those are the calling cards of a gaslighter. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, your partner should want you to get to the bottom of that, not punish you for being concerned.  We saw a lot of emotional manipulation out of Victoria P tonight and that is often overlooked or ignored in relationships.  This can be one of the early signs that something is really wrong.  Trust your gut and reach out for support. Sometimes we need someone else on the outside looking in (or an entire country watching on our TVs) to help us confirm that, yah, something pretty messed up is going on.

Finally, we just wanted to reiterate that relationships shouldn’t be a roller coaster.  We’ve talked in our videos about the cycle of violence and thinking of that cycle as a roller coaster is another way to recognize that you might be ignoring the lows because the highs have been so good. Abuse isn’t often constant.  It’s not usually a 24/7 battle with the person who is hurting you.  Most abusive relationships will have high highs and low lows. It is easy from the outside to focus on the lows you see in a friend’s relationship and wonder why they won’t “just leave”.  It is easy from the inside to focus on the highs and think that maybe if you just try harder you can make the highs last. We want you to know that you deserve better than that. Healthy relationships are not always honeymoons and Valentine’s day, but there shouldn’t be abuse. You deserve better and better is out there.  If you notice you’re caught in a roller coaster relationship, you’re not alone.  There is help.

Finally our roses for the week:

Our rose this week goes to all the girls in the house for sticking up for themselves.  We heard some real emotions this week being shared not just with each other but with Peter.  We’ve never gotten to see something like this before where contestants told the lead that they felt disrespected or hurt by his decisions and we’re so happy to see that play out on our screens. We need more examples of women speaking up for themselves and putting the emotional labor back on the person who really should be handling it. We can be kind and compassionate without being doormats and we were thrilled to see the women live that out this week.

Our dead rose this week goes to Alayah for some sneaky internet bullying.  We’re not here to say Alayah is awful or should go home, but she clearly brought up gossip about Victoria F and Chase to try to hurt Victoria’s relationship with Peter or with the other girls.  Two thumbs way way down to that type of bullying.

Maybe we should end next week with our good rose to go out on a high note; let us know what you think!  Check us out on Facebook and Twitter, share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s keep this conversation going!