On Monday night, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went on Instagram Live to discuss how she is coping with her experience during the Capitol riot, during which she had previously said that a “close encounter” in the attack made her think she was “going to die.”
During the video, the congresswoman explained why calls to “move on” from the event in which five people were killed are inappropriate, saying that the language — “Can you just forget about this so we can do it again?” — parallels that of abusers:
“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.
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. 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 experience any sort of trauma in your life small to large, these episodes can compound on one another.”
Ocasio-Cortez also provided more details surrounding the insurrection, stating that a man broke into her office in Congress on January 6, during which she was hiding in her bathroom. “Where is she? Where is she?” she recalled the man asking. “This is the moment where I thought everything was over … It felt like my brain was able to have so many thoughts in that moment between these screams and these yells. I go down and … I thought I was going to die.”
Looking through the door hinge from the bathroom, Ocasio-Cortez recalled seeing “a white man in a black beanie open the door of my personal office.” Though she says the person did not identify himself, he was a Capitol police officer. “He was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility.” After the encounter, she and a staffer ran to another building to looking for a place to hide, where she found Representative Katie Porter; together they barricaded in Porter’s office for five hours.
The congresswoman, the target of much vitriol from the right, has been standing with sexual-assault survivors since the beginning of her first term, when she brought Ana Maria Archila — one of the women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake during the Kavanaugh nomination hearings — as her guest to the State of the Union in 2019. Last year, she also gave an arresting speech after GOP representative Ted Yoho reportedly berated her on the Capitol steps: “I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they didn’t raise me to accept abuse from men.”