During an hour-long Instagram Live on Monday, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared that she’d experienced sexual assault though she didn’t go into details. According to Sexual Assault Among Latinas
(SALAS) 2010 study report, 17.2 percent of Latinas experienced sexual victimization in their lifetime, and 87.5 percent experienced another form of victimization. AOC not only shared that she’d been sexually assaulted, but she also went into more detail about the Capitol riot on Jan.6. She’d previously shared on IG Live that she genuinely feared for her life and now we have a better understanding as to why.
“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 said on Monday during the Live. She later tweeted, “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.”
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 2, 2021
With more than 150,000 people tuning in she shared the fear she felt as she hid in the bathroom and later in the office of California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter. The trauma she experienced, she said, was comparable to what she went through as a survivor of sexual assault and she vowed she wasn’t “going to let it happen again.”
She recounted running to the legislative director’s office where she hid in the bathroom. “I just started to hear these yells of, ‘Where is she? Where is she?'” AOC recalled. “I have never been quieter in my entire life. I held my breath,” adding, “This was the moment where I thought everything was over.” The 31-year-old then said the man was a Capitol police officer who didn’t identify himself and that she felt something wasn’t right. “Things weren’t adding up,” she added, saying she felt like he was looking at her with “anger and hostility.”
They did as the officer instructed and left the office but, since his only instruction was to go to another unnamed building, they had to search for a place to take cover. That’s when they found Porter’s office which staffers barricaded and she changed into casual clothing in case she needed to flee and blend in more to escape. AOC estimated she was in Porter’s office for about five hours until it was safe for members to finish certifying the election results.
“All these crazy thoughts go through your mind,” she said. “Are some offices safer than others because they have White sounding names? Or male sounding names?” AOC, who is Puerto Rican, then said she ended up staying with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a fellow member of The Squad, until about 4 a.m. EST.
She shared that she received text messages to be careful from members of Congress the week before the insurrection saying they knew violence was expected on Wednesday, Jan.6.
“On Monday we were already, as members of Congress, having heightened interactions with these people,” she said. “And so, anyone who tells you that we couldn’t have seen this coming is lying to you. Anyone who’s gone on the record and said that there was no indication of violence has lied. There were so many indications of this leading up to that moment. They were there on Monday.”
AOC’s candor about not only the events of that day but of her sexual assault will undoubtedly raise awareness and hopefully will inspire other women, especially Latinas, to report assault and seek help if they need it. Cases of sexual violence among Latinas are underreported and only about 10 percent of women sought help from a social service agency, according to the SALAS study from 2010 on sexual assault against Latinas. AOC was adamant about not forcing those who experienced the riot to move on.
“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 am a survivor of sexual assault and I haven’t told many people that in my life,” she said.