Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez detailed the moment she feared for her life during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, disclosing that she’s the survivor of a past sexual assault to drive home her accusation that some Republicans have been dismissive of her trauma.

The New York Democrat described on Monday her growing fear in the days before the riot as supporters of President Trump gathered in Washington while Congress prepared to certify the results of the electoral college vote.

Invoking her past experiences, she criticized conservatives who downplay the threats to lawmakers and say that she and other Democrats should move on.

“These are the tactics of abusers,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” she added. “I haven’t told many people that in my life.”

One reason she hesitated to “tell that story has to do with that trauma,” she said during an emotional Monday night appearance on Instagram Live. She did not provide details about the assault.

The progressive congresswoman said she decided to share more details about her experience during the riot after several Republican representatives wrote a letter calling on her to apologize for connecting Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to the mob.

 

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She said Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., remain a “present danger” for casting doubt on President Biden’s election, complaints that were echoed by rioters.

Cruz and Hawley led the Senate Republicans who objected to some of the electoral college votes that Congress was certifying when the attack took place. Trump had called his supporters to Washington that day and addressed them shortly before the protest turned violent.

Democrats impeached Trump a week later, charging him with inciting insurrection, and his trial will begin in the Senate next week. Some Democrats have suggested the rioters might have had help from inside the Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week that “the enemy is within the House of Representatives,” and other Democrats have questioned the roles of individual Capitol Police officers or members of Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez pointed to one specific moment during the attack when she thought she was going to die as she was barricaded in her office while the Capitol was being invaded. A man banged on her door asking where she was. He turned out to be Capitol Police officer, but she said “it didn’t feel right because he was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility.”

“Just the very uncertainty that you don’t know if that person is trying to protect you or not is deeply unsettling,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s that lack of trust that creates so much volatility and fear.”

She was strongly critical of what she called the lack of preparation for the angry demonstrators who began gathering two days before the pro-Trump protest planned for Wednesday, Jan. 6.

“On Monday we were already, as members of Congress, having heightened interactions with these people, so anyone who tells you we couldn’t have seen this coming is lying to you,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There were so may indications of this leading up to this moment. They were there on Monday.”

Ocasio-Cortez said other members of Congress told her days in advance that they were aware of specific threats to her safety. More information has since emerged about the people who participated in the attack. One Texas man who was arrested for allegedly storming the Capitol and making violent social media threats previously had tweeted “Assassinate AOC,” according to the Associated Press.

The Capitol attack continues to reverberate in Congress, and has made it difficult for some Democrats to embrace Biden’s calls to seek common ground with Republicans. Ocasio-Cortez last week exchanged angry tweets with Cruz when he said he agreed with her comments about recent stock market volatility.

“I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the Jan. 28 tweet.

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