At the height of election season, Andrew Yang’s wife, Evelyn Yang, has stepped forward to share a powerful store about sexual abuse. In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Yang details her experience being violated by her OBGYN while she was pregnant with her first child, and why she is sharing her story now.
While pregnant with her first child in 2012, Yang began going to Dr. Robert Hadden, an OBGYN who worked at Columbia University and seemed to have a good reputation. During routine doctor’s appointments for her pregnancy, everything seemed normal for the first few months.
Then, Yang recalled receiving inappropriate questions from the doctor about how intimate she was with her husband and her sexual activity. While there seemed to be no premise for the questioning, she explained that she felt she could live with having a doctor who seemed a little "perverted." But, just the idea of changing doctors mid-pregnancy was overwhelming. Yang describes feeling overwhelmed, defenseless, and vulnerable going back to Dr. Hadden.
Following the inappropriate questions, her doctor began to schedule appointments for longer, more frequent visits. “I suppose I just need to trust him,” she explained of her decision to continue with Dr. Hadden. And it wasn't until the seventh month of pregnancy that Hadden assaulted her.
"I was in the exam room, and I was dressed and ready to go. Then, at the last minute, he kind of made up an excuse. He said something about, 'I think you might need a C-section,' and he proceeded to grab me over to him and undress me and examine me internally, ungloved. I knew it was wrong. I knew I was being assaulted," she said.
While Yang always imagined herself as someone who would fight back in such a situation, she said she froze like a deer in headlights, unsure of what to do and trying to wait for it to be over. She never returned to that doctor again.
Like many survivors of sexual abuse, Yang's immediate thoughts involved some level of self-blame and an attempt to understand her assault. It's why, she said, that she decided to stay quiet, not even sharing the assault with her husband or family.
When she found out, months later, that Dr. Hadden had left the practice and had been accused of assaulting others, she felt relief knowing that she wasn’t alone. In 2019, it was reported that Dr. Hadden had assaulted more than 30 women over the course of decades. In December of 2019, huge reports on an ex-UCLA doctor who had assaulted and exploited patients came to light as well.
But it wasn't until she headed on the campaign trail with her husband who is running for president in 2020 that she felt empowered to use her platform to share her truth. “Not everyone has the audience or platform to tell their story, and I actually feel like I'm in this very privileged position to be able to do that,” she said. Not that she decided to come forward, she's received an outpouring of support, particularly from her husband.
"I'm extraordinarily proud of Evelyn for telling her story, and my heart breaks every time I think of what she had to experience," Andrew Yang told CNN. "She is my best friend and the bravest woman I know."
Unfortunately, this story is one of many like it. According to reports and statistics, it’s fairly common for women and people visiting doctors to be sexually assaulted. During the waves of #MeToo stories that have been told since 2017, stories about assault from OBGYNs and doctors became more prevalent. In a comprehensive report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2016, it was found that there were thousands of cases of sexual abuse from doctors in many states in America.
Now, Evelyn Yang is one of 32 women who are now suing Columbia University, affiliates, and Dr. Hadden for abuse.