AOC’s Recount of her Traumatic Insurrection Experience was an Act of Bravery that I want to See More Of

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“It is not an exaggeration to say that many members of the House were nearly assassinated,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)  said recounting the insurrection at the capitol over Instagram live, Jan 12.

Trump supporters infiltrated the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Many stories are still coming out about what took place on that day, and we’re seeing a detailed account being presented by House Impeachment Managers in the trial of former President Donald Trump. One of the most detailed and vulnerable stories we heard was from a member of congress, came from Ocasio-Cortez on her Instagram Live on Feb. 1.

Ocasio-Cortez and her legislative director Geraldo Bonilla-Chavez, who she calls G, were in her office at noon on Jan 6, one hour before insurrectionists breached the capitol, according to reports. At around 1 p.m. Ocasio-Cortez and Bonilla-Chavez hear pounding on her office doors and no voice identifying itself. 

The two quickly hid. Ocasio-Cortez hid in her office bathroom, but quickly realized it was not a secure space. They then tried to hide in the nearby closet, when she heard a masculine voice shouting, “Where is she? Where is she?” Ocasio-Cortez recounts.

There she was, pressed up against the wall hiding, she could see a white man in a black beanie through the crack in the door. She believed she was going to die. 

“If this is the plan for me,” Ocasio-Cortez told the Instagram Live audience, “then people will be able to take it from here. I had fulfilled my purpose.”

Seconds or minutes later, she said that time seemed to lose meaning and context, her staffer G called out, “It’s okay, come out.” 

Reluctantly, Ocasio-Cortez stepped out to see an angry capitol police officer who told her to run to an undisclosed building. She and her staffer ran.

What Ocasio-Cortez, and many others working in the Capitol Building, experienced was trauma. And, as she said in her Instagram Live, “Trauma compounds.”

At the beginning of her Instagram Live, Ocasio Cortez came out as a survivor of sexual assault. She compared the reaction to the insurrection from conservatives to the reaction that sexual assault survivors experience receive from abusers or others. 

They don’t believe you and then they try to deny your experiences. Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) had the audacity to demand an apology on twitter from Ocasio-Cortez for making her experience public 

I am thankful Ocasio-Cortez shared her story. It was an act of truth telling, bravery and vulnerability. 

In a society where truth telling from public officials has not been the norm, In a society where Republicans bend the knee in cowardice to Trump and his violent mob of supporters, In a society where expressing emotions on a public platform is scrutinized, Ocasio-Cortez is breaking the norms.

I, like Ocasio-Cortez, have experienced those same feelings of impending doom. To see her, only 31-years-old, explain this traumatic experience in front of thousands of live viewers and later over one million, is inspiring.

Ocasio-Cortez understands what it means to be a leader. She understands that she has a job legislatively, but of equal importance, she has a job to lead people into a better future.

By recounting this difficult story, and tearing up many times during the video, she has shown that talking about emotions brings people together and we need each other now more than ever.

At one point during her Instagram live, Ocasio-Cortez said most people live with trauma and there is a community of people like you who can understand your experience. Trauma affects people of all political beliefs, and it doesn’t need to be an isolating experience.  

 

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