WASHINGTON, D.C. — While recounting her experience at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed Monday night that she’s a survivor of sexual assault.
The 31-year-old congresswoman said she hasn’t told many people in her life and like many other survivors, she’s struggled with the idea of being believed.
“As a survivor, I struggle with the idea of being believed and what’s odd is that I’m in a job where people are constantly calling me untruthful or that I’m exaggerating, etc. So, there’s a great irony in that,” she said during an Instagram live video that spanned an hour and a half.
Through teary eyes, Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that being told to “move on” from the insurrection at the Capitol reminded her of the tactics used by abusers.
“The reason I say this and the reason I’m getting emotional is because these folks that tell us to move on and 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,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez said she wants to hold the people behind the storming of the Capitol accountable, because if they aren’t, she believes they’ll do it again.
“The folks that are saying we should move on, we shouldn’t have accountability, etc. are saying, 'can you just forget about this, so we can do it again,'” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez said the atmosphere around the Capitol and Washington had started to feel more tense and volatile in the days before the insurrection.
And on that day, the lawmaker from New York City says she was in her office when she heard “huge, violent” bangs on her door, like someone was trying to break it down. So, she ran to her bathroom to hide, where she heard a man yelling "where is she?"
“This was the moment where I thought everything was over,” said Ocasio-Cortez, adding that she’s never been quieter in her entire life.
She then described being so afraid that she lost all sense of time and thought she was going to die.
Eventually, Ocasio-Cortez says a staffer of hers told her to come out and that it was safe. When she came out, she says a Capitol police officer was there, but he didn’t announce himself as such and she was offput but his “angry” demeanor.
“We couldn’t tell, we couldn’t read if this was a good situation or a bad situation,” she said. “The situation did not feel OK.”
She says the officer told her to go to another building, but he didn’t advise her what room to go to. In the end, she wandered the halls for a bit before finding Rep. Katie Porter’s office, where she sheltered.
You can watch Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram video here: