‘GMA3’ exclusive: Evelyn Yang reveals her sexual assault experience

The wife of NYC mayoral candidate Andrew Yang opens up about another instance of sexual assault when she was a small child.
8:30 | 04/05/21

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Transcript for ‘GMA3’ exclusive: Evelyn Yang reveals her sexual assault experience
We will turn now on "Gma3," to an important topic. April, did you know, is national sexual assault awareness and prevention month and the statistics for sexual violence in America are pretty staggering, especially when it comes to children. Our next guest, somebody you talked to, a wife, a mom and a victim of sexual assault, and she's trying now to change the dialogue we're having about kids on this particular topic. Yeah, and it is a tough topic, but sometimes we have to get uncomfortable to make that change. Evelyn yang, wife of New York City mayoral candidate Andrew yang, is releasing a new children's book to help parents and educators start that conversation with kids about sexual abuse. Evelyn revealed last year she was sexually abused in 2012 by her ob/gyn and I sat down with her recently to talk about how that experience drove her to write this book and then how it triggered another very painful memory that she had repressed for more than 30 years. Take a look. You revealed last year that you had been sexually abused by your doctor, by your ob/gyn, back in 2012. Right. What made you come forward last year? Obviously, it's a difficult scary thing to do to go public. But why? Well, at the time, my husband was running for president, and I suddenly had this national platform, and women started to open up to me and share their stories about being sexually harassed, being sexually assaulted, and every time I would get a letter, I would think to myself, you are so brave, I hear you, and I also have this experience. I felt like I needed to share what happened to me so that other women would feel empowered to come forward as well. Sexual abuse is not a comfortable subject, and so you wrote a children's book, it's called "A kid's book about sexual abuse." Why is this book so important, why did it need to be written? I was reflecting on how I had just shared an enormous secret with basically the world, and I realized I did not explain to my own children what sexual abuse even is. One in four girls and one in six boys will be abused before they're 18. And given how shocking those numbers are, we should be having this conversation with our children much earlier. But I also know that it's incredibly difficult to approach the subject. Even for me, as a survivor, I struggled with how do I present this information in a way that was going to be not scary or overwhelming for kids. Not only are you a survivor, but you're a mother, and so the education needs to start young, so kids don't feel that fear or even that shame. Talk about why kids need to learn about this at an early age. I think my book is about abuse as much as it is about empowerment. The way we approach the subject almost all the time is reactive. We don't talk about it until something terrible happens. And then that's a lot to unpack in the moment. So to be able to get in front of it in a more positive way should be the goal. When you shared your story and relieved your story, it triggered another memory, and I know you haven't spoken about this, but you remembered another instance of sexual abuse as a child. Can you give us an idea of what happened to you as a young girl? So the assault itself did trigger some memories, but what was interesting about that memory is I didn't make the connection fully until I testified against my doctor before a grand jury. It was in that moment on the stand that I suddenly felt like a small, terrified, paralyzed child, and I realized I've been here before. 93% of the time with children, it's someone you know. For me, it was a stranger and it was at school. I had an instinct that this was something off before the assault. He was being very friendly. And I think I was a little bit off guard because it was at school. And I distinctly remember telling myself, don't be rude, I don't want to hurt his feelings. I was very lucky that a teacher or adult staff member discovered us and intervened. So he was arrested and prosecuted, and I was called upon to testify against him. You're revealing for the first time about this childhood abuse, this childhood incident. What was the reaction from your friends and family? How many people actually even know about what happened to you? I haven't told anyone really. I haven't talked about it. I don't think I -- I think probably a handful of people know. What do you think their reaction is going to be? You know, I'm curious if it's been a repressed memory for others in my family as well. Nobody talked about it? No, no, and I think it's an uncomfortable topic. So I remember leaving the courthouse and not really talking about it again. It's remarkable actually and documented, so you know it happened. Yes. I think it also speaks to the trauma that people carry when they experience something like this. It's so powerful that your mind works to bury it basically. It's incredibly difficult and overwhelming to talk about this subject. It's one of the reasons why I was inspired to write a book, to help families process whether it happened or not, we should be talking about it, but it's so difficult, it's such a sensitive topic, and when parents and educators don't have tools, then you're much less likely to engage. What would your book have done for you had there been one like it when you were young? I think about sometimes if I hadn't been that lucky and a teacher hadn't intervened and would I have told? I'm not sure. And that sends chills up my spine, because to carry that burden, like so many people do, so many people are walking around with this burden of sexual abuse and sexual violence, and they haven't talked about it. Have you read the book with your sons? I haven't. They know that I've been working on a book, and as a result, we talk about sexual abuse in our family all the time. You're talking about it. Yes, I think this is the goal. We need to be normalizing these conversations around sexual abuse at a much earlier age. We're taught how to cross the street safely, how to say no to drugs, what to do in the event of a house fire, and statistically, children are more likely to be sexually abused than to be in a house fire, but yet we don't talk about it until it happens. Powerful, powerful story there. Evelyn yang's debut children's book "A kid's book about sexual abuse" is now on pre-order and all profits will benefit rain, the rape abuse and incest national network, so if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, free confidential 24/7 support is available at 800-656-hope, or the online chat at online.rainn.org. We should make sure we put those resources up on our social media channels as well. But that's remarkable. All the things that we prepare kids for are less likely to happen to them than sexual abuse sometimes. It gives me chills to think about what we are not preparing our kids for. Great for her. Great conversation. Robes, thanks for that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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