Monday, October 25

“I am a survivor of sexual assault”

(CNN) — Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said during an Instagram live broadcast Monday night that she is a survivor of sexual assault.

Ocasio-Cortez made the statement, in what appeared to be one of the first times she had spoken publicly on the matter, in context to the trauma she experienced in the wake of the insurrection on the US Capitol last month. The New York Democrat gave a detailed account of her day on January 6, recounting her experience during the riot.

He found that people in Congress who tell him to “move on”, or even apologize, after the violent uprising on Capitol Hill in January were using “the same tactics as the abusers.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Capitol

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“The reason I say this and the reason I get emotional right now is because these people who tell us to move on, that it’s no big deal, that we should forget what happened, or even that they say we sorry, these are the same tactics of abusers. And, uhm, I’m a survivor of sexual assault, ”Ocasio-Cortez said. The congresswoman did not share details of the assault.

And I haven’t said that to many people in my life. But when we go through trauma, the traumas compound each other. And so if you had a negligent or careless parent, and … or if you had someone who was verbally abusive to you, whether you were a survivor of abuse, whether you experience some kind of trauma in your life, small or large, these episodes can aggravate them. ‘

Throughout an hour-long broadcast on Instagram Live, Ocasio-Cortez shared distressing details about her experience on January 6. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the story was when he recounted when a man entered his office without warning, banged on several doors and yelled, “Where is she?” Ocasio-Cortez said she thought the man was an insurgent, but that he was actually a Capitol police officer.

“I thought I was going to die,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

In recounting her experience, Ocasio-Cortez said she had just returned to her office after receiving the second dose of her Covid-19 vaccine when she and her legislative director, the only member of her staff who was with her at the time. They heard loud knocks on the hallway doors. Ocasio-Cortez said it was around 1:01 p.m. ET because she said she had just gotten off the phone with her chief of staff.

“I hear loud violent knocks on my door and then on all the doors of my office,” Ocasio-Cortez said. Like someone is trying to break down the door. And there were no voices. There were no screams. Nobody said who they were, nobody identified themselves.

Ocasio-Cortez said she ran to the office of her legislative director, who then told her to hide. At first he hid in the office bathroom before trying to cross the room to a closet. In the end, she decided to stay in the bathroom after feeling it was too late to move.

“I had just started hearing these cries of, ‘Where is she? Where is she? ‘”Ocasio-Cortez recalled during the Instagram Live broadcast.

Ocasio-Cortez said at the time that she was hiding behind the bathroom door and was able to see the agent, who she says had not identified herself, move around her office and even open the door to her personal office.

“I’ve never been quieter in my entire life,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I held my breath,” and added, “That was the moment when I thought it was all over.”

It wasn’t until moments later, when a staff member told her it was okay to come out of the closet, that she realized the man was a Capitol police officer.

Ocasio-Cortez communications director Lauren Hitt confirmed to CNN that the man in the black hat who yelled, “Where is she?” across the office, without warning, it was the same Capitol police officer.

The New York Democrat said her encounter with this Capitol police officer “did not feel right” and that she was nervous that he would not identify himself.

“Things didn’t add up,” she added, saying that she believed he was looking at her with “anger and hostility.”

CNN has asked Capitol Police for a comment on Ocasio-Cortez’s account.

She said the police officer told her and her staff member to “come down” and “go to this other building,” adding that he purposely omitted the name of the building for security reasons.

“The situation felt so volatile with this agent that I ran, grabbed my bag and we started running towards that building,” he said.

Running unaccompanied to the other building indicated by the agent, Ocasio-Cortez said they realized they had not been told to go to a specific location.

Without a place to shelter, Ocasio-Cortez said she and her legislative aide were urgently trying to find a place to hide in the building when they began to listen to rioters who were in the process of storming the Capitol. She and her team member went to several different floors and knocked on the doors of various offices before finding Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat from California, walking down the hall with a cup of coffee, Ocasio-Cortez said during the Instagram. Live.

Once inside Porter’s office, Ocasio-Cortez said staff barricaded the door and found casual clothing in an assistant’s backpack that she could put on for camouflage and be able to move around more easily in case she had to escape. Ocasio-Cortez estimated that she was in Porter’s office for about five hours until it was safe for congressmen to finish certifying the election results.

“All these crazy thoughts run through your mind,” Ocasio-Cortez said, sharing what she felt while in Porter’s office. Are some offices safer than others because they have white sounding names? Or names that sound masculine?

Ocasio-Cortez said Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat who is a member of the progressive group called “The Squad,” texted her to “come and eat” and ended up staying in Pressley’s office until 4 a.m. ET.

Ocasio-Cortez said she had felt insecure in the days leading up to the insurrection and had her staff come up with a security plan for January 6, anticipating some kind of incident.

“The week before the insurrection I started receiving text messages that I should be careful, and that I should be careful in particular (on January 6),” he said. “Those text messages came from other members of Congress. They weren’t threats, but they were other members, saying they knew and were hearing, even from Trump and Republican people they knew, that violence was expected by Wednesday.

The progressive congresswoman detailed a tense situation on Capitol Hill in the days leading up to the riot, her encounters with “Stop the Steal” protesters on the way to and from the Capitol and that, by January 5, she did not feel safe leaving.

“By Monday we were already, as members of Congress, having intensified interactions with these people,” he said. So anyone who tells you that we couldn’t have seen this coming is lying to you. Anyone who has spoken publicly and said there was no indication of violence has lied. There were many indications that this would lead to that point. They were already there on Monday.

In a couple of tweets after its transmission, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that her “story is not the only one, nor is it the central story of what happened on January 6.”

“It is just a story of many of those whose lives were in danger on Capitol Hill from lies, threats and violence fueled by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain over democracy,” he said.

And thanking those who heard her story on Instagram Live, the congresswoman again addressed the people who ask members of Congress to “move on.”

“And for those who wish to cover up their misdeeds by rushing to ‘move on’, we will be able to move on when those responsible are held accountable,” he wrote.

CNN’s Sarah Fortinsky contributed to this report.

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