Washington: Monica Lewinsky has broken her silence on her 1990s affair with then US president Bill Clinton, saying he took advantage of her even though it was a "consensual relationship" and she became "suicidal" after the scandal became public.
"I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened," the former White House Intern says in an article she has written for the Vanity Fair magazine.
Monica Lewinsky. Photo:AFP
In the article, Lewinsky, 40, says it is time to stop "tiptoeing around my past and other people's futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story." "I've decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. What this will cost me, I will soon find out," she says in the article, excerpts of which were released by the magazine. The full article will be available on May 8. Maintaining that her affair with Clinton was one between two consenting adults, Lewinsky writes that it was the public humiliation she suffered in the wake of the scandal that permanently altered the direction of her life, according to Vanity Fair.
"Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship," she says in the article.
"Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position...The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor's minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power," she writes. Writing for the first time about her affair with Clinton, Lewinsky says, "it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress."
Lewinsky says she was compelled to break her years-long silence about her affair with Clinton following the story of gay Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in 2010 after his Indian-origin roommate spied on his sexual encounter with another man.
In the article, Lewinsky says she too had become suicidal after the news of her affair with Clinton broke in 1998 and reading about Clementi made her "own suffering" take on a "different meaning".
When Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who was secretly streamed via Webcam kissing another man, committed suicide in September 2010, Lewinsky writes, "she was brought to tears, but her mother was especially distraught: 'She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn't let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal."
"The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death," she writes. Lewinsky, however, clarifies in the essay that she has never actually attempted suicide but had strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigations and during one or two periods after that. Lewinsky writes that following Clementi's tragedy "my own suffering took on a different meaning.
Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation." "The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?" she says in the article.
Lewinsky says that when the news of her affair with Clinton broke in 1998 not only was she arguably the most humiliated person in the world, but, "thanks to the Drudge Report" she was also "possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet." Her current goal, she says, "is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums."
Indian-origin student Dharun Ravi was convicted in March 2012 on 15 counts of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy for using a web cam to spy on Clementi's sexual encounter with another man in September 2010.
Clementi had committed suicide days later by jumping off the George Washington bridge after he found out Ravi had spied on him and had told his other friends about his date with another man. Ravi served 20 days of his month long jail term.
Another issue that Lewinsky raises in the essay is that after the controversy she maintained silence giving rise to the speculation that the Clintons might have paid her off. "The buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out? I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth," Lewinsky says.