Journalist Connie Chung penned an open letter supporting Christine Blasey Ford, while for the first time publicly sharing her own experience with sexual assault.
Chung addresses the letter, published Wednesday in the Washington Post, to Ford, who gave testimony on Thursday to the Senate that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in 1982. While Ford's assault happened 36 years ago, Chung says her trusted family doctor molested her 50 years ago and she "kept my dirty little secret to myself."
"The exact date and year are fuzzy. But details of the event are vivid -- forever seared in my memory," Chung writes. "Am I sure who did it? Oh yes, 100 percent."
She says the assault happened in the 1960s when she was in college, when she went to the doctor for birth-control pills, an IUD, or a diaphragm. What started as a routine gynecological examination -- Chung recalls getting on the examination table and feeling the cold iron stirrups -- became traumatizing.
"While I stared at the ceiling, his right index finger massaged my clitoris. With his right middle finger inserted in my vagina, he moved both fingers rhythmically. He coached me verbally in a soft voice, 'Just breathe. Ah-ah,'" mimicking the sound of soft breathing. 'You're doing fine,' he assured me," Chung says. "Suddenly, to my shock, I had an orgasm for the first time in my life. My body jerked several times. Then he leaned over, kissed me, a peck on my lips, and slipped behind the curtain to his office area."
Chung recounts that she couldn't even look at him, and quickly dressed and went home. She says she isn't sure if she told one of her sisters, but she definitely did not report the incident to her parents or the authorities. It was years later that she told her husband.
"It never crossed my mind to protect other women. Please understand, I was actually embarrassed about my sexual naivete," Chung says. "I was in my 20s and knew nothing about sex. All I wanted to do was bury the incident in my mind and protect my family."
The doctor died almost 30 years ago in his 80s, Chung writes. Yet, she refused to look at his home when she drove past it many times; she "freaked out" when she saw the address on Google Maps. However, when recent stories in the New Yorker and the New York Times broke the levee of sexual harassment accusations, they gave Chung the courage to share her story. "My dirty little secret reared its ugly head and I told anyone who would listen," she says.
It was far from easy for Chung -- "Christine, I, too, am terrified as I reveal this publicly. I can't sleep. I can't eat. Can you? If you can't, I understand. I am frightened, I am scared, I can't even cry," she writes.
However, even though she's worried her "30-plus years" in journalism will be reduced to a "She Too" story, Chung says it's precisely her reporting background that makes her want to come forward.
"I don't want to tell the truth. I must tell the truth. As a reporter, the truth has ruled my life, my thinking. It's what I searched for on a daily working basis," Chung says. Her words echo those of Ford, who during her Senate testimony on Thursday said she was present not because she wanted to be, but because she felt it was her "civic duty" to tell the truth about Kavanaugh.
Chung's letter comes a day after another reporter, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, said she felt compelled by Ford to share her own sexual assault that occurred when she was 15.
"Bravo, Christine, for telling the truth," Chung writes, closing the letter.
Chung herself received support from fellow journalists as well as men and women in the entertainment industry after her essay was published.
© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.