LOS ANGELES - At this time in 2019, Katie Hill was a rising star in the Democratic party.
Having just flipped California’s 25th district for the first time since 1993, Hill, at 32 years old, had assignments on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Oversight Committee. She had also been chosen, alongside Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse, to represent the 116th House Freshman class.
Then, in October, following the release of private photos, and the revelation she was having an affair with a campaign staffer, Hill announced her resignation.
“The decision to step down was obviously the hardest,” Hill told FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson during an exclusive interview on The Issue Is.
“I didn’t want to put [House Democrats] in the position of either having to defend me or denounce me, and I didn’t want my mistakes to really cast a shadow on all of them, so it felt like the right thing to do, and the only choice I really had at the time,” she said, despite adding that Speaker of the House Pelosi had encouraged her to not resign, saying she had the support of the caucus.
It’s personal insights and stories like these that Hill recounts in her new book She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality, an exploration of her experience in politics, as well as the plight, generally, of women who enter the political arena.
Among other anecdotes in the book, Hill emotionally describes not one, but two instances in which she contemplated suicide.
The first instance came just prior to the 2018 midterm, when Hill’s marriage was at its most volatile.
“During that whole episode, when it was just a couple weeks before the election, that was when he first said he’d ruin me if I left,” Hill said. “So I ended up going back to him and hoping that we could just finish this thing out, and then maybe once I left for DC, and was not around as much, it would be better.”
Hill continued that it was roughly six months into her tenure as a Congresswoman that she garnered the courage to leave her husband, after which he allegedly began circulating the photos.
The second contemplation of suicide came after her resignation, Hill recounting in She Will Rise a moment in which she sat in her bathtub considering whether it was all worth it.
“This is a really devastating statistic, but more than half of victims of cyber-exploitation contemplate suicide in the aftermath, and that’s even higher than the number of victims of rape,” Hill said, describing the experience of having her private photos released into the public sphere.
Ultimately, Hill said that the scandal is one that she knows she’ll have to live with, and despite its awfulness, and the knowing looks from people she meets who have seen the naked photos, the untimely death of her brother put her plight into perspective.
“It became clear to me that suicide is never going to be on the table again,” she admitted, “because I could never do that to my parents, I could never do that to my mom.”
Nearly a year removed from the experience, Michaelson pressed Hill on what she’s learned through reflection.
Hill admitted that she displayed “poor judgement” when it came to her relationship with a campaign staffer, saying that the intensity of her campaign, her marital trouble, and a host of other issues led to a “perfect storm” that she will forever regret.
“The bottom line is that there isn’t a space for this kind of thing,” Hill said. “And when somebody’s in power, it’s our responsibility to take the extra steps necessary to ensure that we aren’t doing anything that can be construed as an abuse of power.”
Still though, Hill questioned the double standards witnessed in her case as opposed to others, saying President Donald Trump, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and others have not been held to the same standard.
“You can’t help but wonder if the double-standard there has to do with the fact that I’m a woman, or the fact that I’m a Democrat, or both.”
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Hill also discussed her excitement over the selection of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, her unexpected friendship with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, and her advice for women in politics.
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