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During an emotional Monday Instagram Live session during which she discussed the Capitol riot, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed that she is a survivor of sexual assault — which she has not often talked about, she said.
The Democratic representative went live on Instagram on Monday night for a video that she captioned, “What happened at the Capitol.” During the January 6 riot, which led to the deaths of five people, she feared at first that she was going to die, she explained.
After she heard “violent bangs” on her door, she hid in a bathroom, not knowing what was going on and fearing that someone had made his way into the office to kill her. She and a staffer later evacuated to a different building, where they barricaded themselves with California Rep. Katie Porter, for hours.
Ocasio-Cortez stated that, in the days leading up to the riot, she’d received warnings that she should be careful, implying that something bad was going to happen that week. While discussing the trauma of January 6, she grew emotional and explained that the riot and the aftermath was in line with her own experiences as a survivor of sexual assault.
“The reason I say this and 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,” she said early in the video.
“And 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,” she added. “And so, whether you had a negligent or a neglectful parent, 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."
Ocasio-Cortez also called out politicians who have been pushing to move away from discussions of the riot, describing them as “using the same tactics of every other abuser who tells you to move on.”
“This is not about a difference of political opinion, this is about basic humanity, and that’s what these people don’t get, because they have shown… [they] knew that violence was expected on the 6th,” she said.
The New York Congresswoman then called for accountability of politicians who spread the lie that the results of the election were fraudulent, remarking, “We are not safe with people who hold positions of power who are willing to endanger the lives of others if they think it will score them a political point.”
Monday night’s live stream, which lasted for more than an hour, has been viewed more than 3.5 million times as of Tuesday.
In the weeks since the riot, numerous individuals who participated in the violence have been publicly identified and arrested. Calls for justice have been ongoing.
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