Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says she's experienced sexual harassment

Last Updated Dec 5, 2017 3:01 PM EST

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said that she's experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, but she chose not to describe her own "me too" story.

"I think that's a dirty little secret that a lot of women have held for a long time," Chao said Tuesday afternoon during Politico's Women Rule Summit. "Many of us, especially I think in years past, have experienced it. But the environment was very different."

Chao said that she would not share further details, or reveal the name of her harasser, because the individual is "still around." She also opined that it's "not worth" her while to reconsider those events.

"Things change, times change and it's not worth my while to go back and revisit those negative moments," she said.

She cautioned other victims of inappropriate behavior to not let harassment define them and expressed her hope that victims ultimately overcome those negative sexual experiences.


Elaine Chao seen in Nov. 2016


"You will go through difficulties in your life and I hope you will all triumph. And when you triumph you need to help others along the way, but you also must have magnanimity of spirit," Chao said. "I will fight for other women and I will stand up for other women, but of your own, you gotta let it go. Because otherwise it's too corrosive, it's too negative and it does you a double injury because it holds you back."

Chao's comments come in a moment when a number of women in entertainment, politics and other fields are speaking out about their experiences of sexual harassment. Multiple women have come forward with claims that Republican Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with them as teenagers.

Separately, Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, announced Tuesday morning that he will resign from the House. There have been calls by other lawmakers, including the top members of his own party, for him to step down in light of allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

Last week, More than 220 women in national security, at present or in the past, signed a letter saying they have been victims of sexual assault and harassment, or know someone who has.

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