Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky has said her affair with former president Bill Clinton was not sexual assault, but “constituted a gross abuse of power”.
In an article for the Vanity Fair magazine, the 44-year-old wrote that the #MeToo movement has made her rethink whether she could consent to the relationship.
Lewinsky was 22 when she became involved with the then president, who was 27 years her senior.
She also revealed that she was diagnosed with PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder after the scandal, the BBC reports.
The condition was caused by being "publicly ousted and ostracised" as the affair unravelled in the press and courts, she says.
Lauding the #MeToo movement for providing “the safety that comes from solidarity” in the article, she wrote, “There are many more women and men whose voices and stories need to be heard before mine.”
She writes that she was moved to tears after being contacted by one of the leaders of the #MeToo movement, who expressed sympathy that Lewinsky was "so alone" during the affair.
News of their relationship dominated the US news agenda in the late 1990s, after Clinton initially denied it before admitting to "inappropriate intimate physical contact" with the former White House intern.
“Now, at 44, I’m beginning … to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern,” Lewinsky said in the article.
Lewinsky says she had "limited understanding of the consequences" at the time, and regrets the affair daily.
"There are even some people who feel my White House experiences don't have a place in this movement, as what transpired between Bill Clinton and myself was not sexual assault, although we now recognise that it constituted a gross abuse of power."
The scandal was triggered after a friend of Lewinsky recorded their conversations detailing the affair.
House Republicans then started impeachment proceedings against the president, arguing he had lied to federal investigators. That effort eventually failed, and Clinton remained in power until 2001.
“He was my boss. He was the most powerful man on the planet. He was 27 years my senior, with enough life experience to know better. He was, at the time, at the pinnacle of his career, while I was in my first job out of college,” she said.
Lewinsky added that “none of the above excuses me for my responsibility for what happened. I meet regret every day.”
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