Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has opened up about why she decided to share her experience as a sexual assault survivor.
On Friday morning, the New York congresswoman appeared on CBS This Morning alongside her colleague, Representative Jason Crow of Colorado, and shed light on her decision to come forward as a survivor earlier this week while recounting her experience during the Capitol insurrection.
"As I was reflecting and telling the story, that backdrop and context is something I kept revisiting, and I think for all of us that were there at the Capitol — and Jason is a combat veteran — we all bring our whole selves and we bring our full experiences, and when we encounter such a terrifying moment, we respond with the entirety of our experience," she said. "And so I felt that for transparency to people to understand why I was responding in the way that I did on the 6th, I had to share what I was bringing with me, part of what I was bringing with me that day."
During an Instagram live on Monday night recounting her day at the Capitol during the attack, describing how she hid while fearing for her life, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez disclosed publicly for the first time that she is a sexual assault survivor, connecting the trauma of that experience with that of the Capitol attack, telling followers, "when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other."
Last night, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Crow, along with fellow Democratic lawmakers, shared their stories from the assault on the Capitol on the House floor. Democratic representatives are pushing Republicans to take action regarding the riots, including holding some GOP members accountable for inciting the attacks. Immediately following the events of Jan. 6, Rep. Cori Bush introduced a resolution to hold those responsible to account.
"Telling our stories and retelling it, especially right after the events transpired, is a really important part to healing and getting through it, so once we tell that story — and this applies to survivors of trauma all across the country — telling that story as many times as possible and giving that account, allowing yourself to move through that emotion, allowing yourself to revisit that fear and process it and move past it is important," she told CBS This Morning.
"There's anger at folks who attacked our nation's Capitol…there's also determination for us to never allow this to happen again," she said.
In the days since coming forward with her experiences, Ocasio-Cortez has faced attacks from those who accused her of lying; those claims have been debunked by the Associated Press and CNN, who reported that the congresswoman did not lie about her location during the attacks.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted earlier this week that she initially "wrestled" with telling her story, but decided to come forward after her colleague in the Senate, Alessandra Biaggi, helped her see the "importance" of sharing her story about her trauma.
"To survivors of any trauma who worry about being believed, or that their situation wasn't 'bad' enough or 'too' bad, or fear being branded or deemed 'manipulative' for telling the truth: I see you," she tweeted. "Community is here for you. You are safe with me, & with all of us. You are loved!"
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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