Remember The Starr Report? Monica Lewinsky sure does – but it’s safe to say she wishes she didn’t.
The former White House intern sat down for her first television interview since 2003 and told the National Geographic Channel that the 1998 release of the 445-page report detailing her affair with then-President Bill Clinton took public mortification to a whole new level.
“That was one of the worst days of my life,” Lewinsky, now 40, told the cable channel for its three-part special, The ’90s: The Last Great Decade?, which debuts Sunday and was previewed on Today Tuesday. “I was a virgin to humiliation of that level until that day.”
The new interview comes just two months after Lewinsky published a revealing essay in Vanity Fair, breaking a decade of near silence.
“It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” she wrote, adding that she also needed to stop “tiptoeing around my past and other people’s futures.”
In the TV interview, Lewinsky speaks candidly about the toll that the media coverage took on her psyche when news of the scandal broke.
“To be called stupid, and a slut and a bimbo, and ditzy, and to be taken out of context, it was excruciating,” she says.
Equally excruciating: Being all of 22 and at the center of independent counsel Kenneth Starr‘s investigation into the affair.
“To have my narrative ripped from me, and turned into The Starr Report, and things that were turned over or things they delved out of my computer that I thought were deleted. I mean, it was just violation after violation,” she says.
Friends say the long-reticent Lewinsky recently decided to become more vocal because of two events: the 2010 bullying-related suicide of college student Tyler Clementi (he was publicly humiliated for kissing another man), and her 40th birthday last July.
“It was a life changer,” her close friend tells PEOPLE of her decision to speak out after her landmark birthday. “She realized it was important for her to do something with what she had been through.”