Opening up in a big way.
Tonight’s all-new Total Bellas kicked off what’s guaranteed to be an eventful season, and while fans were surely grateful to have the (very pregnant!) Bella Twins back on their screens, much of the episode was difficult to watch, as Nikki Bella and her fiancé Artem Chigvintsev received scary news about their son’s heart.
Even worse, the couple couldn’t get the answers they needed right away, and in the meantime, Nikki was preparing to tell the world—including her mother, Kathy Colace—something extremely upsetting from her past.
The former WWE star made the painful revelation in Incomparable, her joint memoir with Brie Bella, that was preparing to hit shelves at the time.
“I was raped twice in high school,” Nikki said in a confessional. “This happened to me when I was 16 and 17. For over 20 years, I have held so much guilt and shame and blamed myself. It’s, like, even hard to say the word ‘rape.’ It’s just still really hard for me to say that or talk about it.”
“I have not told my mom,” Nikki added, noting that when the rapes occurred, her parents were getting a divorce. “And now the whole world’s gonna know.”
Ultimately though, Nikki knew she was doing the right thing by telling her story—especially if it meant others would be encouraged to do the same.
“We all feel like if we hide something so deep down that it’s just gonna go away, but it doesn’t,” she explained. “I felt like if I never spoke of it again, it didn’t happen. But it did.”
She continued, “As a teenage girl when I had a chance to go to the cops, I just didn’t because I was scared. It’s weird when you’re in those situations—you’re almost scared that you’re gonna get in trouble…I thought maybe if other girls or women hear my story, then they’ll speak about it. They won’t hold onto it for over 20 years like I did.”
Though Nikki warned her mom that she would be learning a few things for the first time while reading Incomparable, nothing could’ve prepared Kathy for what she discovered.
“I have so many emotions right now,” Kathy told Brie on the phone as Nikki listened. “It’s just crazy to read these headlines and to think that she’s been carrying this for so long and that I was no help at all.”
Brie defended her sister, explaining that she just recently got the courage to speak out.
Their conversation didn’t last very long since Kathy hadn’t read everything yet, but once she got through the difficult portion of the memoir, the Bellas’ mom reached out to Nikki and the two had an emotional exchange.
“To read what you went through, it breaks my heart,” Kathy began before she started to cry.
In a confessional, she continued, “How can I be reading a chapter that is, like, something horrible that happened to a young woman, and that young woman’s my daughter?”
“I just wish I could change it for you,” Kathy then told Nikki, who reassured her mom that it wasn’t her fault.
“It’s not that it was ever hard to go to you,” Nikki responded. “You just feel ashamed of yourself. You don’t know what to do.”
The two continued to open up to each other, and before the conversation came to a close, Kathy praised Nikki for her bravery and added, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you. But I’m here now.”
Nikki had a message for those watching, too.
“For young girls and women, don’t let an experience like this define you,” she told the Total Bellas cameras. “Don’t let it change your life. Don’t let it take you down a path you didn’t want for yourself. It’s hard to see but you have to talk about it. There was nothing that you did to cause this.”
Thankfully, the latest Total Bellas delivered some good news toward the end of the episode: Nikki and Artem’s baby boy Matteo was healthy after all.
After Nikki was alerted that Matteo had a speck on his heart, she and Artem decided to travel from Phoenix—where they’d been temporary living amid the coronavirus pandemic so they could be with Brie, her husband Daniel Bryan and their daughter Birdie—to Los Angeles to get a second opinion.
“This is a natural thing,” Nikki recalled her doctor telling them. “80 percent of babies have this. Some things with the baby will grow faster than overs. They catch up. Not to worry, this is 100 percent normal. And Artem and I right now just feel so much relief.”
The couple was extremely grateful, and even got a glimpse at their healthy baby via sonogram before heading back to Phoenix.
Speaking of the Phoenix-L.A. debacle, Brie was determined to get Nikki and Artem to make Arizona their permanent home—especially since that would mean they could give birth and raise their babies together.
Watch the above Total Bellas recap video to find out how everything went down!