Monica Lewinsky says there is no question her boss - Bill Clinton - "took advantage" of her when he was US president.
But she says their affair was consensual and if there was any abuse involved, it came afterward, when Clinton's inner circle tried to discredit her and the president's opponents used her as a political pawn.
Monica Lewinsky details 'consensual relationship'
Monica Lewinsky speaks about her affair with former President Bill Clinton in an exclusive essay penned for Vanity Fair.
The former White House intern, now 40, writes about her life in the next issue of Vanity Fair magazine, out this month. In released excerpts, she says she is perhaps the first internet era scapegoat and wants to speak out on behalf of other victims of online humiliation.
Her willingness to step forward may come at an inopportune time as former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton considers running for president. Republicans have signalled they don't consider her husband's scandal from the late 1990s out of bounds in the realm of 2016-style political dialogue.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a likely GOP presidential contender, answered criticisms of the Republican record on women's issues by saying in January that the last Democratic president engaged in "predatory behaviour" with a woman, Lewinsky, who was 22 when her liaisons with Clinton began in 1995.
Clinton's lies about the relationship contributed to his impeachment by the House in 1998; the Senate acquitted him.
Lewinsky writes that she deeply regrets the affair and made a point of staying silent through several presidential campaigns to avoid becoming a distraction.
Now, she writes, it's 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.)”
Invoking her headwear from endlessly repeated TV clips and the stained garment considered as evidence against Clinton, she writes: "It's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress."
She also says: “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”
Lewinsky writes that she is still recognised every day, and her name shows up daily in media and pop-culture references.
By sharing her story, Lewinsky says she hopes she can help others "in their darkest moments of humiliation". Lewinsky also reveals she had strong suicidal temptations during the investigation into her relationship with Clinton.
Sure, my boss took advantage of me. But I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath.
Lewinsky says not only was she arguably the most humiliated person in the world, but, “thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet”.
Her 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.”
These aren't her first public words on the scandal. Lewinsky broke her silence in 1999 with a blockbuster interview with Barbara Walters, gave several subsequent interviews and cooperated with author Andrew Morton on his book the same year, entitled Monica's Story.
"Sure, my boss took advantage of me," she writes. "But I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position."
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
AP with smh.com.au