The Bella Twins on the red carpet

The following article includes mentions of domestic violence, depression, and rape.

The Bella Twins seem to have it all. Gorgeous, strong, and talented siblings Nikki Bella and Brie Bella have the world at their feet with beautiful families and hugely successful careers. It’s no surprise then that they’re such fan favorites, and it’s equally no surprise so many fans think they know literally everything there is to know about the twins after they put their lives on reality TV via E!’s "Total Divas" and its spin-off "Total Bellas" for so many years.

"We all told ourselves we had to be an open book. If you’re going to do reality [TV], you need to do the good and the bad," Brie explained of why they’re so candid and open while speaking to SI in 2018. "I think that’s why so many people love Nicole and me. We’re real and honest. There are some really intimate conversations between Nicole and John. I think my sister is just like, ‘Other women go through this,’ and she wants them to feel like they’re not alone."

That seems to be a mantra the sisters have carried into several different aspects of their lives, as the duo has been extremely candid about a multitude of trials and tribulations they’ve experienced over the years — and, looking back on their many hardships, it’s safe to say the Bella Twins have certainly been through a lot.

Brie Bella’s high school boyfriend died when she was just 18

Brie Bella on the red carpet

When Brie Bella was just 18 years old, she experienced unimaginable tragedy when her 17-year-old boyfriend — who she would go on to describe as her first love — died suddenly. Referring to him only as Bear, Brie opened up about the tragedy and how she found out about his sudden passing in her and Nikki Bella’s memoir, "Incomparable," and told Hollywood Life in 2020 about how difficult it was to go back to that dark time. "We were so in love, and we had all these plans, like what we were going to do outside of high school. I thought of myself at a young age, going through that, and it made me sad when I had to retell that story," she said. "I literally felt my world collapse on my shoulders … He was such a special human," she added. Brie also spoke about the deep impact Bear’s death had on her to People, telling the outlet, "Death is such a profound thing that can happen to people. People come into your lives, and they change you, and he did that. He changed me, spiritually."

Brie actually got a tattoo of two bear claws in Bear’s memory, which she showed off during an episode of E!’s "Hollywood Medium," in which Tyler Henry claimed to have contacted him. In a sweet moment during the episode, Henry also told Brie that her late boyfriend approved of her husband, Bryan Danielson.

The Bella Twins had a rough childhood

The Bella Twins when they were children

Nikki Bella and Brie Bella have gotten pretty honest about the difficult childhood they had, sharing how much their parent’s divorce — and all the tension that was in the house before they decided to go their separate ways –- really affected them. "My parents were kids trying to raise kids. The situation wasn’t easy, but we did feel like it was important to tell that story because we know there [are] a lot of kids in our situation, who don’t have the most pleasant childhood, and it can either make or break you," Brie explained to Hollywood Life in 2020, referring to her and Nikki Bella telling much more about their difficult childhood in their memoir, "Incomparable."

In the book, the twins spoke openly about their dysfunctional family and how they began to realize by visiting friends’ homes when they got a little older that their life at home wasn’t normal. "A lot of what happened to us was borderline acceptable, hotly debated but not officially labeled as abuse; it was certainly not as stigmatized as it is now," they wrote. The twosome also recalled their father Jon Garcia’s troubles when they were kids, claiming he found it difficult to control his temper. "It wouldn’t take much, sometimes just a day that was too hot — but he would get worked up and angry to the point of blacking out," the sisters shared.

Nikki Bella’s relationship with her father caused a fear of commitment

John Cena and Nikki Bella on the red carpet

Jon Garcia’s erratic behavior growing up had such a profound effect on his daughter, Nikki Bella, that she found it difficult to trust men and developed a fear of commitment. During an April 2020 episode of "Total Bellas," Nikki reflected on why she never married her former fiancé John Cena, despite dating him for around six years before their 2018 split. "All I’ve ever thought of is it would be so amazing to walk down the aisle, but then I get close, and I can’t even breathe," she confessed (via Hollywood Life). "I’m like … am I just going to be stuck in something that I don’t want to be in? And I just carry that with me because that’s how [mom was] for so long — stuck. And I think that’s just what I learned." She shared a similar take to People the month after the episode aired, telling the outlet, "Because of how my father was when we were young and what happened to me, it made me hate men."

But, thankfully, Nikki (who married Artem Chigvinstev in August 2022) has worked on her issues, something she told Us Weekly was helped by being able to see her behavior play out. "A huge plus of being on reality TV is you get to see your flaws and how you react to situations and figure out the root of where it comes from," she explained.

Nikki Bella opened up about her harrowing rape ordeal

Nikki Bella posing

In another very candid admission, Nikki Bella got extremely candid about two of the darkest times in her life after being raped twice as a teenager. Writing in her and Brie Bella’s memoir, "Incomparable," Nikki recalled being taken advantage of by someone she trusted and considered a friend when she was aged 15. The second time Nikki was sexually assaulted, she explained she was 16 years old and was drugged by an older man. "There is the horrible offense in the moment, and then the shame and blame that follow and feel almost worse than the original pain," the WWE star bravely shared. "When something like this happens to you, you understand the blame-the-victim mentality, how easy it is to feel shame rather than anger, how easy it is to feel like you could have stopped it yourself."

Nikki also spoke out to People in 2020 about the horrific incidents, explaining they had a lasting effect on her romantic relationships because she started to believe she deserved to be treated badly. "I immediately just felt so ashamed and blamed myself, and that’s what made me want to keep it such a secret. And keeping that a secret and blaming myself, I started to lose my confidence. I started to disrespect myself," she shared. "And then the relationships I got into at a young age, I let other people disrespect me and felt like, that’s okay, this is what I deserved."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The Bella Twins lost a beloved family member

Brie Bella with her Uncle Tom

Tragically, the Bella family isn’t immune to a sad loss. In October 2022, Nikki Bella and Brie Bella experienced a tragedy when their Uncle Tom passed away. The latter shared a heartbreaking tribute to Tom on Instagram, posting a series of adorable photos and videos that show him playing with her and Bryan Danielson’s son, Buddy, and their daughter, Birdie. "Heaven gained a beautiful Angel today, my Uncle Tom. He was a strong, sweet, funny, very supportive man," Brie captioned the heartfelt post, as she opened up about how much Tom, who was a veteran, had been a support system for her over the years. "Say hi to Pop-Pop for me, Uncle Tom; I’ll always cherish our memories. Love you," she added.

Brie’s sister Nikki Bella shared her own sadness in the comments section of her sister’s post, posting several emojis, including a crying face and prayer hands to pay tribute to Tom. The sisters’ brother, JJ Garcia, took to the comments section as well, writing, "We lost an amazing man, but heaven got one! See you on the other side Uncle Tom! Love you!"

The Bella Twins got into a physical altercation with their parents

The Bella Twins with their mom

The Bella Twins got into a scary physical altercation with their parents, Jon Garcia and Kathy Colace, while they were in high school, which stemmed from a falling out with their father. Brie Bella and Nikki Bella explained in "Incomparable" that they both refused to speak to their dad after he walked out on them on Christmas Day with another woman — which made him angry. "Nicole and I were furious and would have nothing to do with him, much less continue with the charade that we were a normal family," Brie explained. "From what I recall, my mom got in Nicole’s face, and Nicole pushed her back; my dad hit Nicole in the face, and she fell into the curtains while I jumped on his back to stop him." After that, Brie recalled that her dad picked her and Nikki up and threw both of them out. "Both of my parents were responsible for that," she wrote. After being forced out, the sisters were then essentially homeless for a few days and had to stay at a friend’s house.

Years later, Brie and Nikki decided to reunite with their dad, which was filmed for a 2020 episode of "Total Bellas." Nikki shared she hadn’t seen her dad for five years before they decided to meet up with him, stating (via E! News), "We’ve been in and out of each other’s lives. And it’s just been a rocky relationship."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Nikki Bella ran away from home to get away from her father

The Bella Twins with their dad

Nikki Bella shared in "Incomparable" that it was she who finally pushed her mother, Kathy Colace, to divorce her father, Jon Garcia, after she ran away from home during a particularly difficult time. After noticing she was gone, her parents alerted the police — and Nikki saw it as her opportunity to tell all about her dad’s behavior. "I told the cops I would rather go to juvie than go home to live with my dad again, and they believed me. My mom realized it was over," Nikki recalled of the domino effect her leaving the family home had. "She needed to kick my dad out of the house so I could come home, though she was still upset that I had made the decision for her. I came home and immediately started throwing all of my dad’s s**t into the driveway."

Years later, "Total Bellas" cameras were rolling as Nikki and Brie Bella spoke to their dad about the revelations they made in the book. The father/daughter trio and Nikki’s partner Artem Chigvintsev had a heart-to-heart in the 2020 episode, in which Garcia claimed he was a changed man. "I’ve learned so much, so I promised to my God that I would never hurt another woman again, that I would be a different man," he said. "I accept what I did, I’ve apologized many times, and I’m not ashamed to start from scratch again."

Nikki Bella’s struggle with postpartum depression

Nikki Bella with her husband and son

Following the birth of Nikki Bella and husband Artem Chigvintsev’s son, Matteo, in 2020, Nikki explained during a 2021 episode of "Total Bellas" that she was particularly struggling while Chigvintsev was away due to "Dancing with the Stars" commitments, leaving her home with their son. "It’s been so f***ing hard. I’m trying to keep it together, and I’m about to lose it. I’m about to have a massive breakdown, and I could tell the doctor could tell yesterday," Nikki told Brie Bella (via Daily Mail), sharing the doctor suggested medication, something Nikki refused. She gave further insight into her struggles during a confessional video, saying of Chigvintsev, "It’s really hard doing this all on my own. I think what’s hard is when the person isn’t recognizing what’s going on, like you’re screaming inside, but he’s not hearing it."

But that sadly wasn’t the only time the Bella family struggled with postpartum depression. Brie explained she thought her husband, Bryan Danielson, also experienced the symptoms following the birth of their daughter, Birdie, in 2017. She explained in "Incomparable," they found it difficult to find a balance when they became parents for the first time. "It is actually not uncommon among men — even though it is rarely discussed. I had been on a nine-month physical journey of connecting with Birdie: My body was transforming to accommodate her in real-time. He had nothing physical to attach to," she wrote (via Us Weekly).

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

The Bella Twins’ notorious feud

The Bella Twins posing

We know The Bella Twins are as close as can be now, but there was a time during the earlier days of their WWE career when they were seemingly locked in a feud with some pretty nasty comments being flung back and forth. It all went down in the spring of 2014 in the WWE ring, as Nikki Bella uttered the now notorious one-liner which surely had to hurt Brie Bella (via Game Spot), "As far as I’m concerned, I have no sister. I wish you died in the womb!" Ouch!

That drama only continued, at least in public, with Nikki saying during another match the following month, "Brie has always been conniving, jealous, self-centered." She then accused her twin sister of once stealing her prom date, telling the world (via E! News), "My sister betrayed me!" See, we told you it got pretty nasty. "From the minute we came to WWE, it was supposed to be the Bella Twins against the world. And you know what? It’s never been that way. Brie is so selfish and manipulative, and you know what? Ever since we’ve been kids, it’s always been about Brie! Always!" she added. But while things no doubt got oh so personal between the two, Spotskeeda reported it was all for show, and the hurtful comments were actually part of a script.

Whatever really happened here, though, there’s no doubt The Bella Twins are insanely strong women who will always have one another’s backs.