“Bachelorette” alum Mike Johnson opened up for the first time about being sexually abused as a child in his new book, “Making the Love You Want,” available for purchase Friday on Amazon.
The reality star, who emerged as a fan-favorite on Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette” last year, revealed in the book that he was abused at the hands of a babysitter when he was 5 years old and living in Germany with his family.
“When I was five, we lived in Germany, and my babysitter sexually assaulted me. My memories of fighting her off me and exploding out the front door to get away are still vivid,” he writes in the book’s introduction.
He goes on to describe the event as “emotionally and mentally catastrophic,” saying that for years, he never told his mother or any else what happened.
“Although I knew that what happened to me should never happen to any child, I couldn’t help but think something was wrong with me,” he said.
Then comes the central principle of the book: “Loving myself saved me.”
Johnson attributes the recovery of his mental health to fully embracing self-care, and he says he made a point to open up about that deeply personal story in order to show fans that “I practice what I preach,” he told TheWrap.
“If you want to overcome, you gotta go through it,” he said. “I wanted the spine of the book to be about my story and things that I’ve had to overcome as well. People can relate to me more if they have been through that experience.”
“As a Black man, I feel that we’re strong in this fight,” he added. “We can be extremely strong and vulnerable at the same time.”
Johnson also said that before going on “The Bachelorette,” his life wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The reality star said he went through a “major depression” after losing a friend to suicide and watching another struggle with their mental health.
He said writing the book was like doing “emotional homework,” and hopes the volume offers a solution to “the rising pandemic of mental illness.”
Of course, being only weeks out from the premiere of the new season of “The Bachelorette,” we also had to ask him how he feels about “The Bachelor” franchise in light of criticism it’s received for its historic lack of racial diversity.
“In regards to diversity, both of our leads now are people of color, they’re both mixed with Black,” he said. “I feel that we’re not done by any means. I’d like to see more people of color on crew. I want the cast to be representative of America.”
As for whether he has hard feelings about not being chosen as the Bachelor last season, Johnson says it’s all water under the bridge.
“I’m a phenomenal man and I know I don’t need a show to find the love of my life. That’s the entire point of going on the show. The show isn’t about getting clout for 15 minutes,” he said. “I’ve always said whether the first Black Bachelor were me or Matt [James] or whatever, they’re going to do an amazing job.”
The new season of “The Bachelorette” premieres Oct. 13 at 8/7c on ABC.