Monica Lewinsky breaks silence: I want to ‘take back my narrative’

The Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal captivated the nation's attention in 1998 and beyond. Here are the Clinton family's reactions to the scandal, through the years. (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)

Monica Lewinsky, the woman with whom then-President Bill Clinton had an affair that led to his impeachment, is airing her regrets and a side of the story she’s kept to herself for more than 15 years.

Lewinsky, in Vanity Fair magazine, breaks her silence, calling her relationship with Clinton “consensual” though her boss “took advantage.”

Among the highlights:

— Lewinsky confesses she had “suicidal temptations” during the media firestorm surrounding the affair. Her mother stayed by her bed, fearing she would take her life.

— Lewinsky, who got a master’s degree in social psychology at the London School of Economics, has lived in Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, Ore., and has had trouble finding a job because of her scandal-scarred past, she says. “I was never ‘quite right’ for the position,” she says, often because jobs would require her to attend events with the media.

— Why now? Why is Lewinsky talking now, after years of radio silence. She offers a few explanations:

One is simply clearing the air. “I am determined to have a different ending to my story,” she tells the mag. “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.”

In an article for Vanity Fair magazine landing on shelves Thursday, Monica Lewinsky hits back at some of her critics, including Hillary Clinton and Beyoncé. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

“It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.”

And citing the Rutgers freshman who killed himself in 2010 after a video of him kissing another man became public, she says she wants to connect with others whose shame goes public. “Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation,” she said.

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Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Emily Heil · May 5