“This entire process leading up to this year has been a self-discovery journey,” the former pageant queen, 28, exclusively told Us Weekly on Wednesday, March 1. “I think there’s a misconception, like, ‘Oh, Raquel must have been so scared to be so silenced, and James must have had that effect on her.'”
The California native went on to say that she’s always had difficulty speaking up for herself.
“That silence is something that I’ve struggled with my entire life, and I’ve always challenged myself to push myself outside of my comfort zone because I knew that if I was able to overcome that challenge, that I would have the confidence that I’ve always wanted,” the SURver continued. “So, I feel like we’re there. And if all of these things had to have happened for me to learn my own lessons and for me to find my own worth, I’m just thankful for all of it.”
The Vanderpump Rules star and ex-fiancé Kennedy, 31, called it quits in December 2021 after five years of dating. “We love each other very much, but we aren’t in love anymore,” the duo wrote in a joint Instagram statement at the time. “We want nothing but the best for each other so please keep any thoughts positive.”
Earlier this month, Us confirmed that Sandoval, 39, and longtime girlfriend Ariana Madix split after the TomTom co-owner had an affair with Leviss. The musician and the Fancy AF Cocktails coauthor, 37, had been dating since 2014.
“They were having problems for a while,” an insider exclusively told Us of the former couple last week, adding that things “only came to a breaking point” on Thursday, March 2.
Leviss, for her part, hasn’t publicly addressed the cheating scandal, but Sandoval apologized for the situation in a lengthy statement shared via Instagram on Saturday, March 4.
“Hey, I fully understand an deserve ur anger & disappointment towards me, but please leave [Tom] Schwartz, my friends and family out of this situation,” the Tom Sandoval & The Most Extras frontman wrote. “Schwartz specifically only found out about this very recently, and most definitely did not condone my actions. This was a very personal thing.”
Leviss was previously linked to Schwartz, 40, after the duo hooked up at Scheana Shay‘s August 2022 wedding to Brock Davies, but the pair have since maintained that they’re just friends. Schwartz and Sandoval co-own the restaurant Schwartz & Sandy’s, which was inundated with negative online reviews after news of the scandal broke last week.
“I’m so sorry that my partners, Greg, Brett, and Schwartz and our employees have to suffer for my actions,” Sandoval continued in his statement on Saturday. “I will be taking a step back & taking a hiatus out of respect for my employees & partners.”
Kennedy, meanwhile, slammed his ex-fiancée and Sandoval via social media. “Hope you all feel as sick as I do,” he wrote via Instagram on Friday alongside a screenshot of an article about the affair. “This explains everything.”
When one social media user called Sandoval and Leviss the “most vile subhumans” they’ve ever met, the DJ replied, “CORRECT.”
The U.K. native also called out Sandoval for failing to address Madix in his apology message. “Where’s Ariana Madix mentioned?” Kennedy wrote in a since-deleted Instagram message that included a screenshot of Sandoval’s post. “Make sure y’all unfollow this clown RIGHT NOW GO.”