Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knew during the Capitol insurrection that she was a target. She knew this because ever since she took office, white supremacists, both in and outside of Congress, couldn’t keep her name out of their mouths.
During an Instagram Live broadcast Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez revealed that she’s also a survivor of another traumatic experience.
“The reason I say this and 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, um, I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” Ocasio-Cortez said, CNN reports.
“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 negligent or a neglectful parent, and—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.”
CNN notes that this is one of the first times she’s spoken publicly about being a survivor of sexual assault and it was done so that dumb-ass Republicans might possibly stop and think about how the Jan. 6 attempted coup by white supremacists might’ve traumatized people who were actually targeted.
During the more than one-hour broadcast, Ocasio-Cortez explained the moment during the violent insurrection where she thought she was going to die. According to Ocasio-Cortez, she heard banging on her office door and then heard someone yelling, “Where is she?” She thought that voice belonged to an insurrectionist but it was a Capitol Hill police officer.
“I thought I was going to die,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Recounting her experience, Ocasio-Cortez said she had just returned to her office from getting the second dose of her Covid-19 vaccine when she and her legislative director, her only staffer with her at the time, heard loud bangs on doors in the hallway. Ocasio-Cortez said it was about 1:01 p.m. ET because she said she had just gotten off the phone with her chief of staff.
“I hear huge violent bangs on my door and then every door going into my office,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Like someone was trying to break the door down. And there were no voices. There were no yells. No one saying who they were, nobody identifying themselves.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she ran into her legislative director’s office, who then told her to hide. She at first hid in the office’s bathroom before attempting to move across the room into a closet. Ultimately, she decided to stay in the bathroom after she felt it was too late to move.
“I just started to hear these yells of, ‘Where is she? Where is she?’” Ocasio-Cortez recalled during the Instagram Live broadcast.
Ocasio-Cortez said at that point she was hiding behind the bathroom’s door, and was able to see the officer — who she says had not identified himself — moving through her office, including opening the door to her personal office.
“I have never been quieter in my entire life,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I held my breath,” adding, “This was the moment where I thought everything was over.”
It wasn’t until a few moments later when a staffer told her it was OK to come out that she realized the man was a Capitol Police officer.
Despite the man being a Capitol Police officer, Ocasio-Cortez noted that something still “didn’t feel right.” It didn’t help matters that he was dressed in black and never identified himself.
“Things weren’t adding up,” she added, saying she believed he was looking at her with “anger and hostility,” CNN reports.
The police officer told her and a staffer to “go down” to “this other building” that Ocasio-Cortez purposefully didn’t name.
“The situation felt so volatile with this officer that I run over, I grabbed my bag and we just start running over to that building,” she said.
Once they arrived at the building, it was then that Ocasio-Cortez and the staff member realized that they’d not been told where to go.
Both Ocasio-Cortez and her legislative aide began looking for a place to hide as they could hear rioters who were coming closer to storming the building. Ocasio-Cortez says they knocked on several doors on multiple floors until they finally found “Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat, walking through the hallway with a cup of coffee,” CNN reports.
They hid in Porter’s office and barricaded the door. Ocasio-Cortez even changed into different shoes hoping that in a worst-case scenario she could be more mobile should she need to escape.
“All these crazy thoughts go 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 male-sounding names?”
Ocasio-Cortez said that she knew something was up, had an uneasy feeling leading up to Jan. 6. and even had her staff draw up a security plan if something happened.
“The week prior to the insurrection, I started to get text messages that I needed to be careful, and that in particular, I needed to be careful about (January 6),” she said, CNN reports. “Those text messages came from other members of Congress. They were not threats, but they were other members, saying that they knew, and that they were hearing—even from Trump people and Republicans that they knew in their life—that there was violence expected on Wednesday.”
Ocasio-Cortez added that in days leading up to the riot, she had been encountering these assholes with their “Stop the Steal” bullshit.
“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.”
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted shortly after her Instagram Live ended that her “story isn’t the only story, nor is it the central story of what happened on Jan 6th.”
“It is just one story of many of those whose lives were endangered at the Capitol by the lies, threats, and violence fanned by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain above democracy,” she said.
“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,” she wrote.