Legendary broadcast journalist Connie Chung today broke her silence and told her #MeToo story in The Washington Post.
In an open letter to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to come forward with sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Chung details her own assault at the hands of a trusted family doctor when she was in her twenties.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Blasey Ford courageously recalled the night she alleges Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge attempted to rape her in high school. Blasey Ford asserted that she was “100 percent” confident that Kavanaugh was the boy who attacked her, and explained that she vividly remembers the two boys laughing during the assault, but couldn’t recall the date of the party where it occurred or how she eventually got home.
“I am writing to you because I know that exact dates, exact years are insignificant,” Chung declares in the letter. “We remember exactly what happened to us and who did it to us. We remember the truth forever.”
Blasey Ford alleged she was assaulted over 30 years ago. She discussed openly the ways in which she attempted, for decades, to shut it out of her mind—until she found out that Kavanaugh was being considered for a seat on the nation’s highest Court. Motivated by a sense of civic duty, she reached out to her member of Congress, intent on speaking her truth to power.
Chung can relate: Her own assault happened 50 years ago. It is a moment she admits is “forever seared in my memory,” but which she has rarely disclosed. That changed, however, when the mounting allegations against Brett Kavanaugh compelled Chung to publicly share her story.
I don’t remember saying anything to him. I could not even look at him. I quickly dressed and drove home.
At the time, I think I may have told one of my sisters. I certainly did not tell my parents. I did not report him to authorities. It never crossed my mind to protect other women. Please understand, I was actually embarrassed about my sexual naivete. 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.
My mother could not read or write English, let alone drive. From then on, I told her our family doctor lives too far away. We’re not going to see him anymore.
Years later, I told my husband. When did I tell him? What year? What date? I don’t remember.
When the superb reporting of the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and the New York Times’s Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor helped touch off this intimate discussion, my dirty little secret reared its ugly head and I told anyone who would listen.
In the wake of Blasey Ford’s testimony, Senator Jeff Flake called for an FBI investigation into her allegations—a demand feminist leaders had been making in the weeks since she first publicly shared her story in The Washington Post. The White House has since authorized the agency to move forward, but is rumored to be limiting the scope and efficacy of the investigation. Lawmakers and advocates are demanding transparency, and survivors and allies are rallying for Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination.
Since coming forward, Blasey Ford has been forced to relocate with her family in the face of death threats and pervasive harassment. Hackers have gained access to her email accounts and impersonated her online; the President and other national political leaders, and Kavanaugh himself, have attempted to assassinate her character and insinuate that she is a liar and a political pawn.
“Christine, I, too, am terrified as I reveal this publicly,” Chung writes in her letter. “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 admits that, much like Blasey Ford herself, who has declared that she does not want to be remembered as a victim, perceptions of her will change with this new revelation.
“Will my legacy as a television journalist for 30-plus years be relegated to a footnote?” Chung asks. “Will ‘She Too’ be etched on my tombstone instead?” But ultimately, Chung explains, she is driven by the same sense of duty as Blasey Ford—to testify, to speak openly, to shatter silence and instead make room for dialogue and progress.
“I don’t want to tell the truth,” Chung writes. “I must tell the truth.”