May 11, 2016 08:00 AM

When Donald Trump publicly attacked Megyn Kelly a day after she moderated the presidential debate last August, the Fox News host had no idea it would last as long as it did.

“I just wanted to stop,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “You’d get past an incident and then it would start again. It was really shocking.”

For months the presidential hopeful spoke out against Kelly, calling her “sick” and “the most overrated person on television.” He encouraged his Twitter followers to boycott her show and just ahead of the Iowa caucus, Trump pulled out of a debate because Fox News executives refused to remove Kelly as a moderator after he felt she not had treated him “fairly.”

Megyn Kelly
Photographs by Douglas Friedman

“The hate can be very ugly and it can be threatening and it can be off-putting when you’re walking around the city with your kids in particular,” she says.

While remaining mostly silent on the matter, Kelly, 45, addressed the attacks on air only once.

“I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism,” she said. “So I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor.”

Then after a rare two weeks of quiet from Trump, the Kelly File host seized her opportunity to reach out.

For more on Megyn Kelly, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Kelly Ripa on the cover of PEOPLE

“I knew all along that if there could be a period of calm on his part, that I could go and approach him and we could get to a better place,” she says.

After a “surreal” initial meeting, Kelly and Trump, 69, sat down once again, this time for her special Megyn Kelly Presents May 17 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox broadcast network.

Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly
Eric Liebowitz/FOX

“I think the most electric moment will be when I ask him about this past year and what’s happened between the two of us,” Kelly says of her first prime time special, which also features interviews with Michael Douglas, Laverne Cox and Robert Shapiro.

And no doubt viewers will be curious to see what goes down between the two.

“It’s one thing to have somebody else ask him about what he’s done and it’s quite another to have me ask him,” she says. “I think people want to see that.”

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