On Monday evening, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram Live for more than one hour to share more of her personal experience during the pro-Trump insurgency at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol less than a month ago, but with the current news cycle, time can feel both suspended and eerily fast. Even still, Ocasio-Cortez’s emotional, brave, and moving discussion about her experience brings viewers right back to the day we watched the violence unfold. If you missed her first Instagram Live on her experience, that one is well worth checking out, too.
“I thought I was going to die,” the New York representative stated to more than 100,000 viewers. In the video captioned “What Happened at the Capitol,” Ocasio-Cortez also talked about being a survivor of sexual assault, compound traumas, spirituality, her belief that being told to “forget what’s happened” without even an apology is the same tactic abusers use, and that these stakes are about more than just a difference of opinion; it’s about “basic humanity.” Let’s check out more quotes and video clips below.
Ocasio-Cortez recalls someone yelling, “Where is she? Where is she?” as she hid in the bathroom of her legislative office during the start of the pro-Trump riot. “And this,” she recounted, “was the moment where I thought everything was over.” That person turned out to be a police officer trying to get her to a secure location, according to Ocasio-Cortez, but the moment was just one of many that were both disorienting and terrifying.
You can listen to her describe that harrowing experience below.
When it comes to the real terror of the riots and how the nation can actually unify and heal in the aftermath, Ocasio-Cortez smoothly and smartly weaves in psychology and the potential long-term effects of the pro-Trump violence.
“These folks that 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 as abusers,” Ocasio-Cortez pointed out. Here she referenced being a survivor of sexual assault, and, as examples of other forms of abuse, brought up that other survivors of trauma may have survived a neglectful parent, verbal abuse, or “small to large” forms of trauma throughout their lives. She stressed there’s not just “one really big thing happening to you.”
The progressive Democrat explained that “trauma compounds on each other” and that “most people live with trauma.” She continued, “There is a community of so many people that can understand,” and stressed that many people are survivors of some degree of trauma, which is not to diminish anyone’s trauma, but rather to connect individuals. She also pointed out we still don’t know how many people will come out of the insurgency with PTSD down the road.
“This is not about a difference of political opinion,” she argued in reference to accountability. “This is about basic humanity.”
Ocasio-Cortez compared Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to abusers who try to silence and dismiss survivors in their continued efforts to downplay the riots. She added that she still believes both Cruz and Hawley “need to resign,” as well as many other Republican legislators.
Perhaps the biggest one-line takeaway we can all carry into the future: “All of these people who want to tell us to move on are doing so at their own convenience,” said Ocasio-Cortez. That’s a sentiment that works for pretty much any scenario—especially when it comes to Trump lackeys trying to clear their names and weasel back into positions of politics and power.
Here are five free mental health resources, and, as always, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255, 24/7, and it is both free and confidential.
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