Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a 90-minute Instagram live video on Monday night where she detailed, for the first time, her experience during the attempted insurrection on January 6. At one point, she feared for her life while hiding in a bathroom when she heard a man yelling, “Where is she?” on the other side of the door. “I’m a spiritual person,” Ocasio-Cortez recounted as her eyes welled up. “And I thought, if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from here.”
As it turned out, the man was a police officer instructing her and an aide to move to a secure location as an armed, violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in a riot that left several people dead and maimed. But that was just the beginning of a tense day for AOC and her colleagues as they hid from insurrectionists roaming the halls of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., many of them convinced that an anti-Trump coalition of Democrats and Republicans had conspired to steal the election from former President Donald Trump. On Instagram Live, Ocasio-Cortez condemned the words of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who she said inflamed tensions by casting baseless aspersions on the integrity of the election and subsequently downplaying the seriousness of what happened on January 6.
Ocasio-Cortez also discussed trauma, revealing for the first time that she is a survivor of sexual assault. “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,” she said.
“I haven’t told many people that in my life,” she continued. “But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”
With her off-the-cuff, conversational style and outspoken advocacy, Ocasio-Cortez has received a lot of attention since her upset win in 2018. While often celebrated on the left, she’s become a villain among many Republicans who view her as emblematic of Democratic Party extremism. This has led to death threats from far-right conspiracy theorists. One alleged Capitol rioter has been charged for tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”
A little over 20 percent of American women have reported surviving sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.