The former 'Vanderpump Rules' star shares that what initially "attracted" her to Sandoval, with whom she had a months-long affair, is now the reason she realizes he was being an "a--hole"
The 29-year-old former pageant queen answered fan questions on Friday’s episode of her Rachel Goes Rogue podcast, specifically addressing claims she was mostly "emotionless" during the season 10 reunion. According to Leviss, she'd been coached by Sandoval, 41, about “sticking to the story” he'd crafted to mitigated the fallout of their secret relationship, which ended his nine-year relationship with her costar and friend Ariana Madix.
That said, during a one-on-one interview aired at the end of the interview, Leviss allowed some of her conflicting emotions to show through — a vulnerability she worried would be perceived by Sandoval as a betrayal.
"The last five minutes of season 10, you see me break down because I want to come clean and I’m still holding things back because I don’t want to betray Tom because he is the one person I have left,” she said. “In my world, it seemed like he was the only person. He got me. He understood me. He was there for me in all of this time — or so I believed.”
Soon after the reunion filming, Leviss entered a mental health treatment facility, where therapy brought some of her negative patterns with Sandoval into focus.
She recalls telling her therapist she “betrayed Tom by telling this truth," adding, "And my therapist was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa — but didn’t Tom betray you first?'"
Over time, she realized that Sandoval had “asked me to lie when he knew that I wasn’t a good liar and I expressed to him that I don’t like lying. He put me in a really bad position with my friendships, and this placement of being on this international reality TV show [meant] that my reputation was on the line.”
“He knew I was going through this heartbreak, and I’ve heard him say on his interviews ‘Oh, Raquel really was coming into her own.’ And that’s what attracted him to me," she says. But now, "I’m like, 'You a--hole. You could have just let me be. Like, let me live. Why can’t you cheer me on as a friend?'"
It's part of an alleged pattern of "manipulative" behavior she now sees — one that she acknowledges also impacted Madix, 38.
“I think that Tom uses Ariana’s mental health against her, and it’s very manipulative and messed up,” Leviss said. “I think he could have gone about [our relationship and their breakup] in a much more mature way. But who knows if he’s even capable of that.”
The “biggest way” Leviss says Sandoval betrayed her, though, was “filming me without my consent.” This comment comes nearly one year after Madix found an intimate video on her then-boyfriend's phone — one that Leviss has since said was screen-recorded without her knowledge. The discovery prompted Madix to immediately end their relationship. VPR cameras resumed filming, despite having concluded production for season 10 months before, and the rest is Emmy-nominated history.
Now Leviss sums up, “I can see the impact the show had on my decisions, the impact that my trauma and my connection with Tom had on those decisions, and my trust in him and betraying myself in that process. I’ve been able to see a lot clearer now. That’s what I needed. I needed that space to gain that clarity.”
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Vanderpump Rules season 11 premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.
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