Many people were shocked by Matt Lauer’s abrupt firing from the Today show following sexual harassment allegations, especially his former co-anchor, Katie Couric. For the first time since his exit in late November, she’s sharing her feelings on the scandal.

“The whole thing has been very painful for me,” Katie confessed to People magazine in a new interview. “The accounts I’ve read and heard have been disturbing, distressing, and disorienting and it’s completely unacceptable that any woman at the Today show experienced this kind of treatment.”

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Katie and Matt were co-anchors from 1997 until her departure in 2006 (she first joined the talk show in 1991). Even though they sat side-by-side for so long, the 61-year-old was blindsided by the accusations. “I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left,” she shared.

The mother-of-two continued, “I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew. Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It’s still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda [Kotb] and the entire Today show staff have handled a very difficult situation.”

This is the first time Katie is really speaking out on the topic, however, she did break her silence back in early December while responding to an aggressive Instagram user. “It’s incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I’m ready to. Thanks for your interest,” she wrote on the social media platform at the time.

Katie didn’t share whether or not she’s still in touch with Matt today, though she’s a big supporter of Hollywood’s Times Up movement, which brings awareness to sexual harassment and assault. “I think it was really moving to see so many women support each other and demand change, not only for themselves but for mistreated and marginalized women in all kinds of industries,” Katie said. “Clearly we are witnessing a sea change and a long overdue course correction.”

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