Throughout Arie Luyendyk Jr.‘s season of The Bachelor, there was perhaps no one more controversial than Krystal Nielson. And she wouldn’t disagree — though she’s come to terms with her role as the so-called villain.
“It got to a point where I realized that I can’t control how I’m going to look on the show, so there’s no point exhausting my energy,” the 29-year-old fitness trainer tells PEOPLE. “I’ve made my peace with it.”
And Nielson — who was actually hoping the Bachelor was going to be Peter Kraus — says she now realizes things were never going to work with Luyendyk Jr., 36.
“On the group dates I felt so incredibly disrespected,” she says. “For instance in Tahoe, I was talking with Arie and he grabbed Tia’s hand while having a conversation with me. I felt so disrespected. All the girls were fighting over each other to hold his hand and to kiss him. I was like, ‘This is desperate — I’m not going to do this.’ I would never tolerate that in the real world.”
Ultimately, Nielson says the “breaking point” in their relationship came after the infamous bowling date, when Luyendyk Jr. invited the competition’s runner-ups to join the winners on a coveted date that night.
“I was pissed,” she explains of her breakdown. “I had to get it out.”
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Since the show has been airing, Nielson says she’s been shocked by fan reactions — and some of the particularly offensive comments she’s gotten on social media.
“It’s been gnarly,” she says. “The thing that hurt me the most was talking about how my little brother was right to stay away from me and be on the streets. I can deal with people calling me fat or horse face or I have a big nose or I’m ugly. Whatever — you don’t have a clear television. But to say things about my little brother, that really hit home.”
Now, Nielson says she’s looking forward to moving on.
“Throughout this whole process I felt so misunderstood,” she says. “My intention was never to hurt anybody or put anybody down. I tried so desperately to show who I was, and I couldn’t do that.”
As far as Luyendyk Jr., she adds, “that chapter is closed!”
The Bachelor airs Mondays and the two-hour Women Tell All special airs this Sunday, both at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.