The journalist broke her silence about being sexually assaulted 50 years ago by the family doctor who delivered her as a baby. Chung, 72, detailed the assault by the “monster” in an open letter directed to Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford in the Washington Post.
Chung wrote that she had “kept my dirty little secret to myself” for “five decades.” It took place in the ’60s — when the sexual revolution was in full swing and she was in college. But she wasn’t having sex herself; she was a virgin. She figured sex would come next, so she went to her doctor to get birth control. At his home office, she was given her first gynecological exam — but it was no exam. It was an assault.
While Chung remains fuzzy on the day and year — a point she reiterated more than once to emphasize that Ford isn’t alone in not remembering every detail of her attack — she writes that the assault is forever etched in her mind. With her legs in cold stirrups for the first time, the doctor put a finger inside her and massaged her clitoris. “He moved both fingers rhythmically. He coached me verbally in a soft voice, ‘Just breathe. Ah-ah,’ mimicking the sound of soft breathing,” she wrote. “‘You’re doing fine,’ he assured me. 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 quickly left and “certainly did not tell” her parents or report it. “I think I may have told one of my sisters,” she said. “It never crossed my mind to protect other women. Please understand, I was actually embarrassed about my sexual naiveté. 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.” She told her mother, who couldn’t read or write in English, that the doctor’s office was too far for them to go to again and that they wouldn’t be seeing him anymore, and she never did. The doctor died 30 years ago when he was in his 80s.
Chung says she later told her husband since 1984, Maury Povich. “When did I tell him? What year? What date? I don’t remember,” she wrote, making it clear that the details Ford remembers about her assault and when she mentioned it are more accurate than her own. Chung wrote that Ford’s testimony has brought her own assault back to the surface, and she’s been telling people about it — and reliving it. “I’ve driven past his home/office many times but refused to look at it,” she wrote. “Just yesterday, I found the house on Google Maps. Seeing it again, I freaked out.”
She ended her post by addressing Ford directly. “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 wrote, adding, “Will my legacy as a television journalist for 30-plus years be relegated to a footnote? Will ‘She Too’ be etched on my tombstone instead? 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 added a quote that Povich shared with her from a Rita Mae Brown novel, Six of One: “The advantage of telling the truth is you don’t have to remember what you said.” She wrote, “I wish I could forget this truthful event, but I cannot because it is the truth. I am writing to you because I know that exact dates, exact years are insignificant. We remember exactly what happened to us and who did it to us. We remember the truth forever. Bravo, Christine, for telling the truth.”