AOC Says Past Sexual Assault Was 'Pivotal in the Trajectory That Led Me to Run for Office'

·2 min read

Cruz Valdez/GQ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that opening up about her sexual assault helped her realize that the incident propelled her to public service, telling GQ in a new interview: "My sexual assault was a pivotal event in the trajectory that led me to run for office."

"I can say that in retrospect, but obviously I didn't know that at the time," she said.

The 32-year-old New York representative first opened up about the assault in the wake of the insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — taking to Instagram Live to share her story of past trauma.

RELATED: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Opens Up About Being Raped in Her 20s: 'I Felt So Alone'

"The reason I'm getting emotional in this moment is because the 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, these are the same tactics of abusers," she said in the Live.

She continued: "I'm a survivor of sexual assault, and I haven't told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other."

Speaking to GQ, the lawmaker said she "could not talk about" Jan. 6 without disclosing the assault, "because it was such a central part of my experience."

RELATED: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Feared She Could Be Sexually Assaulted During the Jan. 6 Insurrection


Cruz Valdez/GQ

"I felt like I could not really adequately communicate what that experience was without giving people the context of what I had lived through and what was being echoed, because so much of it was about resonance and fear of a thing that was not theoretical but a fear of a thing that I had experienced," she added.

Speaking to CNN's Dana Bash in an interview last year, Ocasio-Cortez shared that she feared for her life while hiding from the rioters.

RELATED: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Recounts How a Congressman Once Told Her 'It's a Shame' She Won

"I didn't think that I was just going to be killed. I thought other things were going to happen to me as well," she said.

Asked then if she feared she was going to be sexually assaulted, the New York lawmaker told Bash, "Yeah, yeah. I thought I was."

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Speaking to GQ, Ocasio-Cortez says that her prior experience with assault has also "forced me to confront all of these things that I was taught about my self-worth as a woman."

"I didn't grow up in an explicitly ideological household ... I grew up in a very socially conservative and very deeply religious household with very prescriptive messages about women," she said. "And it's not even sometimes that they're just handed down from your parents, but just from the culture that you live in."