Following the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) logged onto Instagram and told her truth-a truth that she had not told many people about before that moment. AOC disclosed that she is a sexual assault survivor.
Survivors of sexual assault experience Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). PTSD can present itself in many different ways and affects every person differently. Some people may have few triggers, some may experience triggers daily. Trauma manifests in many ways at any time. Traumatic events can trigger past traumas as well, so being in a riot could easily trigger someone’s PTSD.
AOC recounted her experience during the siege, detailing the panic she felt, and that she thought she was going to die. She discussed her experiences with Katie Porter, who helped her in the moment as well as an unsettling moment with a Capitol police officer. AOC then went on to explain that people who were telling her to “just move on” from this traumatic experience were no different than the tactics used by abusers.
Some of the feedback AOC has received after telling her truth has been vile and disturbing. News articles shared on Facebook have laugh reactions on them, and the comments section are full of people commenting horrific things. People are calling her a liar, saying if she is telling the truth then she is not fit to be in a position of power, and saying she is using her assault to play the victim. Many comments say she is only saying it now for political gain. Others call her a liar because she “doesn’t seem like a victim,” and the more horrific ones make jokes about her assault. Some people have gone so far as to post pictures of her when she was younger, and victim blame her for what she was wearing and how she was behaving among friends. Which, by the way, none of those things lead to sexual assault.
The only thing that leads to sexual assault is rapists, therefore nothing AOC, or anyone, has done, worn, or anything is the cause of that. Victim blaming negatively impacts the survivor and is a big reason why survivors do not come forward about their assault or even report it. Also, sexual assault is not funny, it is not something that anyone should laugh at, especially when a survivor is coming forward about it. Some of the things said in the comments were so vile I don’t even feel comfortable repeating them. Some people even go as far as to make jokes about the assault and side with the rapist.
AOC may or may not see those comments, which I hope she does not because the things people are saying about her are despicable. However, other survivors are seeing them. These people leaving these comments are harming people they know, family members, friends, siblings, children, anyone they know that has been assaulted that may or may not have come forward. Survivors choose not to report for many reasons and saying that if she did not have evidence it did not happen, or questioning her honesty because it has been so long since the assault, is harming those around them who have gone through the same thing.
Laughing about this is truly abhorrent, whether you like someone or not there are lines that should never be crossed and laughing about someone’s sexual assault just because you do not like them is crossing it.