Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with CNN that while she hid barricaded inside her office during the Capitol attack on Jan. 6 and heard people banging on her doors, she not only feared that mob would kill her, but that she would be raped as well.
The New York Democrat said in the interview that aired on Monday that “one of the reasons why the impact was so double that day is because of the misogyny and the racism that is so deeply rooted and animated in that attack on the Capitol. White supremacy and patriarchy are very linked in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of sexualizing of that violence.”
Ocasio-Cortez then stressed that “I didn’t think that I was just going to be killed. I thought other things were going to happen to me as well.”
When asked by CNN to clarify if she was worried that she would be raped, Ocasio-Cortez responded in the affirmative.
She added that “Survivors have a very strong set of skills. And the skills that are required as a survivor, the tools that you build for resilience, they come back in right away. And for me, I felt like those skills were coming right back so that I could survive.”
Ocasio-Cortez first shared in February in an Instagram Live video that she had been sexually assaulted years earlier when she was in her early 20s. The congresswoman described in the video, just a month after the violent protest at the Capitol, that while being locked in the bathroom in her office and listening to banging on doors, she heard a voice demand, “Where is she?”
Ocasio-Cortez did not know then that the voice was of a Capitol Police officer because, she said, the policeman did not identify himself.
“There’s no way that a person in that situation would have even thought that that was law enforcement,” she told CNN. “That’s not how we’re kind of trained into thinking.”
She said the decision to tell her earlier story of sexual assault had not been “a conscious one,” explaining that “You don’t say, ‘This is the moment. I’m going to do this now.’ It feels like something happens in the circumstances that almost propels you to, and almost forces you in a way to come forward. Because I think a lot of survivors would rather never talk about what happened ever again.”