This post contains spoilers from Monday's episode of The Bachelor.
The women of Matt James' season got their turn to speak out on Monday's Women Tell All episode.
Fifteen of Matt's rejected Bachelor suitors joined host Chris Harrison to look back on the season and offer their insights on how things played out. ABC provided a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode that the Women Tell All special taped on Feb. 4, prior to Chris announcing he'd be temporarily stepping away from the show amid controversy surrounding his response to contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's past racist actions.
Chris started by asking Jessenia if she still considered MJ to be one of the season's mean girls who targeted the five latecomers. "I would say it was just kind of adding onto making them feel uncomfortable, more so," Jessenia said. "It was the fact that she wouldn't necessarily own up to it to Matt."
Matt ultimately sent MJ home after a two-on-one confrontation with the hairstylist and Jessenia. MJ's roommate, Mari, defended her, and MJ explained, "I do have a strong personality and that should not be misconstrued as mean."
Still, Jessenia didn't have any remorse about dropping MJ's name to Matt. "If I'm honest, I don't really regret doing that in any way," she concluded.
Victoria said “sorry” to Katie
On the topic of bullying, dancer Ryan, one of the season's five late additions, shared how being name-called for her profession by "queen" Victoria was hurtful. "It's hard to hear yourself called a ho on national television," Ryan said.
Victoria accused Ryan of being a "super sensitive person." "The extent of your upsetness at it is like, are you just an emotional person?" Victoria asked, adding that she hasn't taken online criticism of her exposed bra and swollen eyes personally.
Ryan clarified, "You chose to act the way you did and say the things that you did."
Chris checked in to see how Katie felt about that since she confronted Victoria about her attitude during the season. "It does suck to watch it and hear you call me 'disgusting' over and over again," Katie said to Victoria.
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Victoria deemed the name-calling "unacceptable," but said, "We're all getting backlash for however we handled anything and I think it's important to remember we all did the best we can do. Life is a learning experience as is this journey and we're just getting to watch it back. So again, I'm just so sorry."
Katie accepted Victoria's apology and said she felt "ready to move on from this experience." She also called anyone receiving backlash for their actions on the show "karma." However, "death threats are unacceptable," she continued. "I think body shaming is unacceptable. But we all said what we said. No one made you say anything."
The women came for Katie
Chelsea told Katie that in her opinion, the bank marketing manager created the negative atmosphere in the house. "The house was not toxic until you made it toxic by bringing the situation up to Matt and then causing the domino effect that led to every single drama in the house," Chelsea asserted.
Serena C. claimed that Katie spoke with Matt "to light a flame and start a fire," and Pieper asked Katie how doing so benefited her relationship with the Bachelor.
"I didn't look at it as a way to help my relationship with him. I was just being who I believe I am. I am very outspoken. I'm going to speak my mind and for me it was just kind of like, my last straw," Katie responded. "We have to live in this house for up to two months and what I was experiencing personally, it sucked. And so for me, I feel like I owed it to Matt and to myself and to the environment to let him know my opinions."
Khaylah chimed in to say that the women "owed it a dialogue" among themselves before going to Matt. But Jessenia defended Katie. "I don't believe it was Katie's goal in any way to somehow improve her relationship with Matt," Jessenia said. "I do feel that she probably felt like, 'Okay, this is a conversation that probably needed to be had,' especially since at the time we were aware of a rumor that was going on that obviously was false."
Anna apologized to Brittany
Chris brought Brittany into the hotseat to discuss that rumor, which he called "one of the craziest rumors that I have heard in the 20 years of doing this show."
"I never felt so low like that in my entire life and I was completely shocked," Brittany said of Anna telling other women she worked as an escort back in Chicago. "That was just defeating."
After returning home, Brittany said she didn't want to be around her family or talk to friends.
"It's embarrassing because when you Google my name now, the first 20 results is, 'The Bachelor contestant Brittany Galvin accused of being an escort.' It's nothing wrong with that industry, but it's not me," she said. "So after that moment, it was just hard because I didn't sign up to get bullied. I didn't sign up to get my name slandered."
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Brittany just wanted to find love. "I came here to find my person and this is forever going to have to be an association to my name, which is kind of unfair," she continued. "It's just really f—– that I have to constantly defend my name from now on. Although I received an apology, it's just like, then when the episode aired I … she's had weeks to reach out to me and say, 'Hey look, I just want to see how you're doing or anything,' but I didn't get any of that."
Anna admitted, "Everything in this situation I did was wrong."
"Nothing I can say can justify what I did," she said. "Honestly, there is no reason ever to take down another woman. Without ever thinking of the consequences, especially in that moment, it was awful. And I am still like, after watching the aftermath, I am 100 times more sorry. Just because I know I'm getting a little glimmer of it. And I can't even imagine what it's like to be you. It just sucks that I did that to someone else."
Anna claimed she told people Brittany was an escort — information she supposedly received via messages from Brittany's ex-boyfriends and former classmates — because of her own insecurities.
"I can't justify anything," Anna said. "I was insecure. I lashed out. It all stemmed from my own insecurities. I was insecure about myself. I was insecure about my time with Matt and I was insecure even being next to these amazing women in the house. There wasn't a motive."
Brittany hoped viewers learned from this situation that "words can really affect you."
"I don't want people to feel bad for me and I don't want Anna to get hated on," Brittany concluded. "People make mistakes and then I also want to address people that are in the sex working industry. It's just like, don't let somebody tear you down for that. I believe that everyone deserves love and nobody's life is worth more or means less based on occupation."
Fan favorites reflected on being sent home
Katie said of her elimination that she "didn't see it coming."
"Watching it, I get it. I get where he was at and why he made the decision he did," she said. "It sucks because timing's everything and when I watch the show back and I see his date with Michelle or with Rachael, I don't know that I actually stood a chance timing-wise. It looked like he was already getting there with other women."
But Katie remained optimistic about still finding love. "Matt was the first person I was able to be 110 percent myself with and it didn't work out, so that's tough," she continued. "But I just have to remain hopeful that my person's still out there."
Abigail, who received Matt's first impression rose, also wished she spent more time with him. "If we had that much attraction with how little time we had, what if we had a whole day together? Could I have been up there with kind of the frontrunners?" she wondered. "It's just a lot of questions."
Abigail admitted she was on her "way to falling in love" with Matt. "He had all the qualities I was hoping for," the client financial manager added.
She, too, stayed hopefully about connecting with a special someone down the line and said in the meantime, the support she received for representing the Deaf community has been "incredible."
Pieper confessed that she probably felt more strongly about Matt than she let on. "I was definitely in love with Matt I think by the time I got to my one-on-one," she told Chris. "I told Matt that I was falling in love with him but I think by that point I was in love with him."
The grad student didn't ultimately know if Matt had been "100 percent honest" with her about how he felt.
"There was the date where he told me how he felt about me and told me we were on the same page and I think that we were in completely different books at that point," Pieper said. "But Matt has this amazing ability to make everybody feel really special and I think all the women here can relate to that. And in the moment, I really went for it. But everything I thought was wrong. I was absolutely heartbroken, soul crushed."
Serena P. opened up about walking away
Chris pointed out that usually, if a contestant leaves on their own, it happens long before hometowns. But Serena P. bowed out of the competition after she and Matt met with her family.
"I really wanted it to work out with Matt and I. But talking to my mom, I mean all of those feelings just kind of boiled over onto the surface," Serena P. said. "I wasn't sitting there 100 percent that Matt is my person and he is the one I'm going to spend the rest of my life with, and they could tell something for me was off. And that seed of doubt really grew from hearing that."
The Canada native hoped she didn't hurt Matt. "I care about him still so much and the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt him," she said. "And losing him was one thing but knowing I could be hurting him in the process was just the cherry on top of it all."
Matt confronted his exes
When Matt came out, rocking a beard the ladies likened to NBA star James Harden's, he commented on watching some of the moments he didn't see while filming, such as the Jessenia-MJ situation.
"That's never how you want to see someone's time come to an end that you're having a great connection with," Matt said of MJ. "I wish that we could've gotten more time to explore what that relationship could've looked like but at the end of the day I'm dealing with these things as they come at me. I just had to make that decision for myself."
He also gave Anna the benefit of the doubt. "I knew that that wasn't your character and who you were and it was just a lapse in judgment," the North Carolina native said. "What a lot of us are understanding is that there comes a point in time where you have to be accountable for things and as tough as that is, better now I feel like than down the road."
Victoria took the opportunity to open up to Matt about what she learned from her time on the show.
"It's been hard watching the show back because yes, I was involved in drama and that was a really hard learning experience because I do feel like I could've had a shot at more of a romance," she said. "With my exit, it kind of just hurt my feelings how I saw you said like, I need to self-reflect and 'I have no words for her' because I felt like I had done my best to open up. I just have tremendous fear of rejection, so that was why my exit was just a little dramatic. I was going through like, just levels of pain at that time."
Matt apologized if he hurt Victoria's feelings. "When people ask me about you, I have nothing but good things to say about you," he said. "I know that, again, I've never been in your situation, not only from being on the other side of the rose but just your life experiences, so I apologize if you felt offended that night."
Chris also asked Matt a question that's been on Bachelor Nation's mind for a while: why does he kiss with his eyes open?
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"To be honest with you, I didn't know that that was like a no-no," the former Wake Forest football player confessed. "I didn't know you were supposed to have your eyes closed. This is news to me. But when I'm watching it back I'm like, that's kind of weird. So, I'm doing self-reflection. Like, I should probably start kissing with my eyes closed."
So at least one important lesson was learned this season.
The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
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