Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Opens Up About Sexual Assault Trauma

Ata Owaji Victor
·5-min read
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

From ELLE

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has revealed that she is a survivor of sexual assault.

In a video posted to the US Democratic politician's Instagram account on Monday, the 31-year-old recalled the the events at the US Capitol on January 6, when hundreds of supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the federal legislature building in Washington D.C. as a joint session of Congress affirmed the votes for President Joe Biden’s election victory last November.

In the clip, Ocasio-Cortez denounced Republicans who have deflected blame and others who have called for her and others present at the Capitol that day to 'move on', likening their statements to tactics used by sexual assault abusers.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is the youngest woman in history to be elected to the US House of Representatives, stated: 'I'm a survivor of sexual assault. 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, you know, a neglectful parents and, 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.'

The politician continued, criticising those who have demanded she apologise to conservative Republicans after she suggested they have a responsibility for the events at the Capitol last month.

'These are the tactics of abusers,' she said, adding, 'Or rather, these are the tactics that abusers use 'And so when I see this happen, how I feel, how I felt was: "Not again." I'm not going to let this happen again. I'm not going to let it happen to me again. I'm not going to let it happen to the other people who've been victimised by this situation again. And I'm not going to let this happen to our country. We're not going to let it happen.'

Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez continued, recalling a moment during the attack when she hid in her bathroom at her office and heard someone enter her office shouting 'Where is she?'

'This was the moment I thought everything was over,' she noted. 'I thought I was going to die.'

At one point, a visibly distraught Ocasio-Cortez wiped away tears before continuing with her message. 'I start to look through the door hinge to see if I can see anything,' she recalled of her actions on January 6. 'I see this white man in a black beanie and yell again. I have never been quieter in my entire life.'

Photo credit: Samuel Corum - Getty Images
Photo credit: Samuel Corum - Getty Images

The congresswoman for New York’s 14th congressional district said that she eventually managed to vacate her office after a fellow staffer told her it was safe to do so and a police officer was present.

After finishing her harrowing account of the insurrection, Ocasio-Cortez stated: 'We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability. All these people telling us to move on are doing so at their own convenience.

'The folks who are saying, "We should move on", "We shouldn't have accountability", et cetera, are saying: "Can you just forget about this so we can, you know, do it again?"'

Her emotional message came to powerful conclusion when she explained why the insurrection and the words of others since are close to her heart.

Photo credit: Rick Loomis - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rick Loomis - Getty Images

'For so many people out there if you have experienced any sort of trauma, like just the fact of recognising that and admitting it is already a huge step. Especially in a world where people are constantly trying to tell you that you didn't experience what you experienced or that you're lying,' she added.

'Or that, you know, those are additional traumas on top of what you've already experienced, right, if you're a survivor of abuse, of neglect, of verbal abuse, of sexual assault, you know, et cetera, there's the trauma of going through what you went through.'

The congresswoman noted that she was prepared for criticism after sharing her experience of sexual assault, adding: ' People are going to say that, "Oh, she's just trying to make it about her"

'And, like, all of those normal, nagging thoughts. And, like I said, all of your traumas can intersect and interact.'

Ocasio-Cortez later tweeted about her video: 'My story isn’t the only story, nor is it the central story of what happened on Jan 6th. It is just one story of many of those whose lives were endangered at the Capitol by the lies, threats, and violence fanned by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain above democracy.

'Thanks for making the space for me, and hope we can all make space for others to tell their stories in the weeks to come.And to those who wish to paper over their misdeeds by rushing us to all "move on" - we can move on when the individuals responsible are held to account. [sic]'

If you have experienced any form of sexual assault or harassment here are some support links you can reach out to.


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