Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She's a Survivor of Sexual Assault

The congresswoman opened up about trauma while recounting her experience during the Capitol attack.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram Live on Monday evening that she is a survivor of sexual assault.

The Democratic congresswoman made the disclosure for the first time publicly while candidly discussing the trauma she went through on Jan. 6 during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"I'm a survivor of sexual assault," she said. "And I haven't told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other. And so, whether you had a negligent or a neglectful parent, and — or whether you had someone who was verbally abusive to you, whether you are a survivor of abuse, whether you experience any sort of trauma in your life, small to large — these episodes can compound on one another."

Speaking to an audience of more than 150,000 for much of the Instagram live, Ocasio-Cortez walked her followers through her day at the Capitol during the attack. One of the most harrowing moments the congresswoman described was one in which she was forced to hide when a man came into her office unannounced, banged on the doors, and yelled, "Where is she?"

"I hear huge violent bangs on my door and then every door going into my office," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Like someone was trying to break the door down. And there were no voices. There were no yells. No one saying who they were, nobody identifying themselves."

"I have never been quieter in my entire life," she said. "I held my breath. This was the moment where I thought everything was over."

A few moments later, a staffer told Ocasio-Cortez it was safe to come out, at which point she realized the man was a Capitol police officer who she said looked at her with "a tremendous amount of anger and hostility."

She also recalled taking shelter in Rep. Katie Porter's office, recalling that she had already thought twice that day "that I was going to die."

"I felt that if this was the journey that my life was taking, that, I felt that things were going to be OK, and that, you know, I had fulfilled my purpose," she said, her voice breaking.

Ocasio-Cortez added that those who've expressed the desire to move on from the events of the day are "using the same tactics of every other abuser who just tells you to move on," the same tactics of "that man who touched you inappropriately at work, telling you to move on."

"Are they going to believe you?" she said. "Or the adult who, you know, if they hurt you when you were a child and you grow up and you confront them about it, and they try to tell you that what happened never happened."

"This is not about a difference of political opinion," she added. "This is about basic humanity."

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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