Clare Crawley is opening up about a past relationship. The 39-year-old Bachelorette appeared on the latest episode of the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast and revealed that she was in an abusive relationship before appearing on Juan Pablo Galavis' season of The Bachelor in 2014.
"There's so much more background that I have never even talked about, even on that season of The Bachelor, that I had held inside, that I didn't share with the world," she said. "I didn't even share with my friends. Some of my family knew about it. I had just gone through a really, really abusive relationship going into Juan Pablo's season."
"At one point I was living in my car for three months. I barely had a job making minimum wage as a hair stylist assistant when I first started in hair. I was in an abusive relationship. I just had lost my dad too," she added. "So I was at the lowest of lows."
Crawley became instantly iconic in Bachelor Nation after telling off Galavis in the season finale, something that, in retrospect, she's surprised she was able to do.
"It just broke me down, I hear it in my voice the whole time of just trying to be strong, and trying to be empowered, but then at the very end, having enough in me to be like, 'You know what? No. That's not OK. You don't treat somebody like that. You don't disrespect somebody like that,'" she recalled. "I hadn't fully convinced myself of that yet. And so it took me time right after that to sit and process that and go, 'What just happened? What do I need to work on? Why did that shake me?'"
"I'm glad it shook me, but I was just starting to do the work," Crawley continued. "I was just starting to crack myself open and kind of find out all about me and why I had had that moment, but even more so, all the stuff leading up to it that I had to still process."
After being the runner-up on The Bachelor, Crawley went on to appear on Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Winter Games, all of which were experiences that have prepared her to be the Bachelorette.
"I grew up having no self-confidence. And, because of a lot of things that happened in my life, not believing in myself, not feeling worthy of a lot of stuff," she said. "I was weak. I didn't know who I was. I just wasn't self-aware."
"And now coming from there and doing all the work in my 30s, I'm an empowered woman now and a strong woman... I'm a courageous woman now," she continued. "Even when I'm weak, I still have the courage within myself to do hard things, and it's something I'm proud of now."
That strength, Crawley believes, will allow her to "start attracting the right kind of man" on her season of The Bachelorette.
"I picked a lot of wrong guys for me... There was a lot that I had gone through that just really tore me down emotionally inside," she said. "I wore all those feelings... [with] a lot of shame, a lot of embarrassment. I didn't want to be a victim. I didn't want somebody to not like that about me... It was almost like I hid it inside and it wasn't until the last year that I really felt like... I want to be able to let down my guard down."
"I want the man of my dreams to see the worst of me, and to know the worst of me... There was a lot that I went through. I want them to know the hard, ugly, embarrassing struggles of my life to appreciate the woman that I am today," she continued. " I want a man to love me for that, and not just for the easy makeup and hair, that type of stuff. Anybody can love you for the easy fun times, the smiles and the laughs... I want somebody to love me for all the hard stuff that I've been through."
Crawley added that her experience is something that she's "hidden for so many years," but now she's "owned that part" of her life.
"[I've] looked not at the stuff I've been through as shame, but as my superpower," she said. "These are the things that have made the woman that I am today. That's what I bring to the table."
As for what she's hoping her potential partner will bring to the table, Crawley said height, pheromones and openness are all important to her, while "somebody who's very guarded" would be a deal breaker.
Crawley is set to meet her men in person soon, after filming of her season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. She's been taking this time to Google the men who were previously announced to be her suitors, though some of them may no longer appear on the show due to the delay.
"You can kind of tell people's lifestyles like from Instagram stories, and I see some that I'm like, 'That's not really my vibe,' and others where I look at them and I'm like, 'Oh, that's hot. I can't wait to meet that guy. I hope he's on the season,'" she shared.
In addition to a chance to preemptively check out her men, Crawley has taken the unexpected delay to contemplate the message she wants to share with the world as the Bachelorette.
"Only recently did I share with producers, saying, 'This is my healing journey that I've gone through and how I got to where I am today.' If I can do it, literally anybody can do it. It just takes those steps," she said. "To kind of plan what I'm going to share and how I'm going to share this stuff with everybody [was helpful]."
Watch the video below for more on Crawley.