Former Rep. Katie Hill on resigning after sex scandal: 'I made the right call'

Hill continues to deny allegations that she had a sexual relationship with a congressional staffer and said her bisexuality played a part in "sensationalizing" the scandal.
8:03 | 02/21/20

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Transcript for Former Rep. Katie Hill on resigning after sex scandal: 'I made the right call'
I had what was once my life. Now none of it exists. It is pretty much unfathomable how much can change in a year. Reporter: Katie hill knows what a fall from grace can feel like. She was part of a democratic wave of women elected in the midterms. That boosted hill's rising but within a year it all came crashing down. The California congresswoman under fire. Katie hill is finding herself in the center of a scandal. Reporter: Intimate photos of her and another woman, a former campaign staffer published online. Hill said she was devastated. Facing an ethics investigation. Calls it a divorce from an abusive husband. Reporter: The 32-year-old lawmaker decided to resign. This is the last speech that I will give from this floor as a member of congress. Reporter: But refused to go I'm leaving because of a misogynistic culture. Reporter: Your story exploded, but how much of it is tied to the fact that you're bisexual? I think a lot of it is. Part of it is because I'm a woman. We haven't seen a lot of sex scandals with women. The headlines are much better than oh, congresswoman has affair with former campaign staffer, right? So it's, ours was, our headlines were much more scandalous. Reporter: The relationship included hill, her husband Kenny Haslip and a staffer. Her husband she says leaked the photos in the midst of a nasty divorce. You said you're still grappling with the reality of what happened to you. Are you coming to terms with it? I don't know that there is a coming to terms with it. It's horrifying. Especially when you're talking about nudes that were published without your permission. It's like a private piece of you that you can't ever get back. Reporter: You said you didn't even know these pictures had been taken? Right. I don't think we should ever blame women or men for sharing nudes. I think that's part of the fabric of society now, and it's not changing. And I don't think anyone should be shamed for that. Reporter: Hill said everything that happened was consensual but admits she was conflicted. Was the biggest mistake having a relationship with a campaign staffer? It never felt like an employee-employer relationship. I saw them as peers, and that's probably the biggest mistake that I made. I needed to see them in the way every other employee who worked with me. I knew the risks, and I knew that I, that I guess I shouldn't be doing it, right? Reporter: It sounds like you don't think you crossed an ethical line there. At the time it certainly did not feel that way. But I also was very aware of how it could be perceived. Reporter: Is it fair to say you were trapped in a relationship with your husband? Yes. Reporter: What happened? First of all, I met him when I was 16 years old. I had dealt with sexual assault prior to that. It was sort of a setup, not intentionally, but it was a setup for something that could become toxic, and over time it certainly did. Reporter: She tried to leave her husband multiple times, including before the 2018 election. Felt bad enough that I was like, I can't do this for the rest of the campaign. For the rest of my life. That's when I left the house, and I packed up my things and kind of snuck out. Reporter: And hill says when her husband found out, he exploded. He said if you don't come back I'll ruin you. So I always had that kind of hanging over my head, and I knew what he meant. Reporter: The couple kept up a happy face in public. Haslip was there when she was sworn in, but that changed during the divorce. Reporter: And you truly believe he made good or tried to make good on that promise? Oh, absolutely. The more we learn the more convinced I am of that. There's a criminal investigation and a civil case that we're pursuing. Reporter: Haslip's lawyers sent a statement, saying Ms. Hill made no allegations of abuse in her petition for dissolution. The parties are currently in the process of negotiating aimicable relationship. It was the allegation that she was involved in a new relationship that triggered a house investigation. You were accused not only of a relationship with a campaign staffer but with someone on your congressional staff, which obviously would cross all kinds of ethical lines. Mm-hm. That accusation came from my ex-husband. Reporter: It's not true? No, especially the person he was accusing me was the first hire. We were friends. Reporter: Hill said she felt like a distraction to colleagues and the upcoming impeachment inquiry and the threat of more leaks. We knew from the people who had obtained the photos that there were hundreds more images and text messages out there. I did not want to be a liability to my colleagues. Reporter: And how much do you regret the decision to actually resign? Any part of you think you should have stayed and fought? No, I strongly feel I maid made the right call. I'm leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip. It's shameful that she's been exposed to public humiliation by a cyber exploitation. Reporter: Hill returned to California but stayed in the spotlight. She started a political group supporting women candidates and wrote an op Ed about her experience. When you're talking about a woman being a victim of something like the photos or cyber exploitation or revenge porn or whatever you want to call it. Reporter: What do you want to call it? There's a term problem with the term revenge porn, that the woman maybe did something wrong in the first place, and pornography could imply it was consensual, and it's not. Cyber exploitation is probably the best. Reporter: The last few months have been rough on hill. Her mother had to have brain surgery. And in January her younger brother died. You wrote it was very close to suicide. Yeah, it's a lot. Reporter: What stopped you from taking that final, fatal step? It was my family, and I knew of all the girls and young women who looked up to me who saw this happen to me, whose parents probably had to explain it to them, the ultimate outcome was that this destroyed me and I committed suicide, then what does that tell them? That couldn't be my final story. Reporter: You're only 32 years old, creating a brand-new Yeah. Reporter: Can you imagine running again? Certainly not anytime soon, but I'm not going to say never. Reporter: You mentioned the young girls who you met on the campaign trail were inspired by your campaign. What do you want them to take away from this story? First of all, people do make mistakes, and that you shouldn't let that define who you are. That we deserve the opportunity to improve ourselves. I also hope that they can take away a sense of resiliency, that you can get through trauma, and even when you've been beaten down you can stand back up.

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

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