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Describing Capitol riot, Ocasio-Cortez says she survived past sexual assault

Lawmaker recounts hiding in bathroom during January 6 siege as a man repeatedly yelled ‘Where is she?’; Democrat says ‘trauma compounds on each other’

In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asks questions during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asks questions during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, on Monday recounted hiding in her office bathroom as a man repeatedly yelled “Where is she?” during the insurrection at the US Capitol, and also revealed a sexual assault in her past as she talked about trauma.

The remembered terror of the day made Ocasio-Cortez get emotional as she spoke during an Instagram live video, and she chastised those she said wanted Americans to put the day behind them and not recognize the lingering impact of such an event.

“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,” she said.

She went on to say, “I’m a survivor of sexual assault…. When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.” She didn’t say anything else about that experience.

Ocasio-Cortez said the atmosphere around the Capitol and Washington had started to feel more tense and volatile in the days before the insurrection.

On that day, she said she was in her office when she heard repeated bangs on the door, sounding like someone was trying to get in. Her legislative director told her to hide, and she went into the bathroom.

That was when she heard a man yelling and trying to find her. “I have never been quieter in my life,” she said.

She came out shortly after when her legislative director told her to, and saw a Capitol police officer in the office. She said the officer told them to go to another building, but didn’t say specifically where or escort them, leaving her feeling unsafe.

“You don’t know if that person was actually trying to protect you or not,” she said.

In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Several Capitol officers have been suspended and around a dozen are being investigated after reports of taking selfies with the mob and videos which seem to show them allowing protesters into the building.

In 2006, the FBI published a report on infiltration of law enforcement by white supremacist groups, and in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about infiltration in the military. Both times, the warnings largely fell on deaf ears.

Overall, federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege.

At the urging of then-US president Donald Trump, thousands of the protesters streamed to the Capitol on January 6. Some then stormed it, temporarily disrupting Congress’ certification of Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory over the Republican Trump in the November election.

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