Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Reveals She’s A Survivor Of Sexual Assault While Sharing Her Experience Of Capitol Attack
[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
The aftermath of the attempted coup at the Capitol is still being felt.
Many of the perpetrators of the attack have not been held accountable, and our own government officials who helped incite the violence have encouraged the country to simply “move on.” Progressive representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the voices calling for accountability. It makes sense, particularly because she’d previously hinted at a “close encounter” where she thought she was going to die on that day.
On Monday, the 31-year-old took to Instagram Live to recount her entire experience of the siege for her followers. In reliving the trauma of the attack, AOC also revealed another personal trauma — the experience of sexual assault.
“The reason I’m getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize, these are the same tactics of abusers. I’m a survivor of sexual assault, and I haven’t told many people that in my life.”
Sadly, surviving sexual assault in one form or another is a reality for too many women. (Those who work in the service industry, as Alexandria did as a bartender, are particularly vulnerable; in fact, a recent report showed over 40% of workers have seen an increase in sexual harassment during the pandemic.)
The Bronx native continued:
“When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other, and so whether you had a neglectful parent or whether you had someone who was verbally abusive to you, whether you are a survivor of abuse, whether you experienced any sort of trauma in your life, small to large, these episodes can compound on one another.”
Elsewhere on the livestream, the congresswoman recalled the “close encounter” she had alluded to previously. When her office appeared to be breached, she remembered:
“I just start to hear these yells of ‘Where is she? Where is she?’ This was the moment where I thought everything was over. And the weird thing about moments like these is that you lose all sense of time. In retrospect, maybe it was four seconds… maybe it was one second, I don’t know. It felt like… my brain was able to have so many thoughts in that moment, between these screams and these yells of ‘Where is she? Where is she?’”
She went on:
“I mean, I thought I was going to die. I had a lot of thoughts — you have a lot of thoughts, I think, when you’re in a situation like that. And also one of those thoughts that I had — you know, I just happen to be a spiritual person, and be raised in that context — and I really just felt, you know, if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from here. I had a lot of thoughts, but that was the thought I had about you all. I felt that if this was the journey my life was taking, that I felt that things were going to be OK, and that, you know, I had fulfilled my purpose.”
AOC described peeking through door hinges to see a “white man in a black beanie” barge into her personal office. He eventually identified himself as a Capitol police officer, but she felt “things weren’t adding up” because the officer had no partner and was so aggressive. She remarked:
“It didn’t feel right because he was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility. …The situation did not feel okay.”
As we now know, there were Capitol police officers who appeared to collude with the terrorists, or at very least allowed them to pass through unharmed, so the young elected official’s concerns were warranted. This particular officer sent them to a different building with no clear instructions or secure destination. (He did not accompany Alexandria and her staffer.)
In a panic, the representative from New York frantically rushed through the building (on a street-level floor) before seeking shelter with Representative Katie Porter. (You can see Rep. Porter’s account below.) They sheltered together for many hours, and it wasn’t until much later that they felt safe and secure.
Alexandria wrapped up her account by saying:
“My story is not the only story, nor is it the central story. It’s one of many stories of what these people did in creating this environment. These folks who are just trying to tell us to move on are…using the same tactics of every other abuser who just tells you to move on.”
What happened on January 6 was devastating for the country, but we can’t imagine what it was like to experience personally — especially for AOC, who has been targeted specifically by dangerous and violent rhetoric. We hope her story increases the demand for accountability, because these treasonous actions must be reckoned with.
We highly recommend viewing her full account, below:
[Image via WENN/Instar & Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/Instagram]