Due to pushes from some lawmakers on the right to move on from the disturbing and deadly events of the day, Ocasio-Cortez shared how that day’s trauma fell in line with and compounded previous experiences she’s had as 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,” she said. “These are the same tactics of abusers. And I’m a survivor of sexual assault. I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”
In her harrowing account of the riots, Ocasio-Cortez said she and a staffer had heard people banging on her door yelling “where is she?” and the panic-stricken moments of searching for a place to hide and accepting that she could very possibly die. She’d previously said, per the Washington Post that she didn’t feel safe going to the extraction point other lawmakers were going to on the day-of, as she wasn’t sure if some colleagues might disclose her locations to rioters. She said how she was “at a 10” when she finally got to the office of her colleague Rep. Katie Porter and began planning for ways for them to stay safe — because her body just kicked into fight or flight mode.
Hypervigilance (feeling tense or on edge, trouble sleeping and difficulty controlling emotions
Avoidance (avoiding people, places and things that remind a person of the trauma and wanting to “zone out ” when confronted with these reminders; in some cases, PTSD sufferers have trouble recalling details of the trauma)
Reexperiencing (flashbacks and nightmares, reliving the fear evoked by the trauma when faced with reminders of the event)
Mood changes (depression and anxiety are common in people with PTSD)
She was visibly emotional recounting the play-by-play of getting from her office to safety on the day of the riots and the sense of discomfort and fear that followed her in the DC in the days leading up to them. And she also gave the reason she didn’t tweet out the common check-in messaging of “I’m safe and okay” (or something to that effect) that public figures use in emergency situations: She didn’t feel safe and she didn’t feel okay.
She went on to call a real acknowledgement of the way the events of January 6 put so many lives at risk — and encouraged Americans to press on for accountability despite people who would dismiss it as political revenge.
“The accountability is not about revenge. It’s about creating safety. And we are not safe with people who hold positions of power who are willing to endanger the lives of others if they think it will score them a political point,” she said. “…This is at a point where it’s not about a difference of political opinion. This is about just basic humanity.”