While discussing sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, CNN host Don Lemon teared up during his Monday show as he revealed he recently learned a family member of his also was sexually assaulted.
The discussion of sexual abuse is a touchy subject for Lemon. Eight years ago the CNN host admitted on national television that he was molested when he was younger. In the midst of discussing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations of attempted sexual assault against Kavanaugh, Lemon mentioned how people often ask why abuse survivors take so long to speak out.
“Why is it so hard to talk about? Well, part of it is fear,” Lemon explained. “And part of it is doubt. Will I be believed? Will I be blamed? Will I have evidence? Do I have to relive what happened? Will everyone judge me? And if I speak out, will it even matter? I’ve been open about my experience with sexual assault, and I know firsthand that no one ever wants to come forward. Even to family, friends, or loved ones, let alone the entire country.”
Lemon said while he was on vacation, his trip was interrupted by a text message from a close family member. She texted Lemon saying she believed Kavanaugh’s accusers and that she too was a victim of sexual assault by a former boyfriend.
“I texted right back and I said, ‘What? No way. Why didn’t you say anything?’ And she replied, ‘Shame. I thought he loved me,'” Lemon said while tearing up. “Even though it happened then, there is still pain now. … And it still matters now.”
He added, “In my life, it hasn’t mattered if the person was 17 or 70 — the pain and the damage are real, and it never goes away.”
The CNN host explained he’s not taking sides and doesn’t know whether Kavanaugh’s accusers are telling the truth, but the survivors’ stories deserve to be heard.
“Are we interested in truth, are we interested in healing, or is there, as there always seems to be these days, a political game being played with people’s lives?” Lemon asked.
The 52-year-old said he never opened up about his sexual abuse to his family until he was 30 years old.
“It’s tough,” said Lemon. “I did later write about it in my book, and I’ve talked about it since. But it’s never easy.”
Watch more in the clip below: