Former Sen. Martha McSally describes sexual assault near Omaha, Neb.

Former U.S. Sen. Martha McSally said she was sexually assaulted Wednesday while running near Omaha, Neb., in an incident in which she said she pursued her fleeing attacker, contacted police and described the ordeal shortly afterward on social media.

McSally, R-Ariz., said in an Instagram post that the attack happened on the day she was scheduled to talk about “courage and heart, and how to be a brave heart. And I just had it put to the test.”

On Wednesday, McSally, looking into the camera and acknowledging she was still feeling adrenaline from the matter, said a man groped her along a trail tracing the Missouri River on the Iowa side of the state lines.

“A man came up behind me and he engulfed me in a bear hug, and he molested and fondled me until I fought him off,” she said. “I then chased him down. I said a lot of swear words in this moment. I was in a fight, flight or freeze, and I chose to fight.

“I ran after him. I threw my water bottle at him, and I chased him into the brush, where he was then hiding as I called 911 and waited for the police to come. I don’t think they found him, and I’m OK. … It could have been much worse. I still have a lot to process and I will do that in time.”

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McSally said she will process the incident in a healthy way, as she tells others to do as well.

“I know it’s tapped into a nerve of other sexual abuse and assault that I’ve been through in the past, which I’ve healed from, as much as I feel can be done,” she said.

“But in this case, I felt like I took my power back. He tried to take power from me, but I turned it on him and he was running from me instead of the other way around. Not giving anyone advice on how to respond in situations like this. It could have been much worse. … But I’m safe and I’m glad that I did that.”

Authorities in Council Bluffs, Iowa, confirmed McSally contacted them about the matter, which is under investigation, police said.

McSally could not be reached for comment. She is listed as a speaker at an event Wednesday with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Nebraska.

The event is billed as “Top Gun lessons for surviving/thriving in ‘combat’ (life and business). From America’s first female combat fighter pilot. How to overcome fear, build exceptional teams, and be agile and resilient in a turbulent world.”

Discussing personal pain in an unusually public forum is nothing new for McSally, who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives for a Tucson-area seat and two years in the Senate.

In 2019, McSally, a former Air Force combat pilot, said in a congressional hearing that she was raped by a superior officer when she was in the service.

“Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways,” McSally said then.

“I stayed silent for many years, but later in my career, as the military grappled with the scandals, and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know I, too, was a survivor. I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences was handled. I almost separated from the Air Force at 18 years of service over my despair. Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again.”

Her words sparked an agency review of sexual abuse but also left some victims’ advocates frustrated that McSally didn’t identify her assailant to press her case more forcefully.

In 2018, McSally said she had been sexually abused in high school.

In 2018, McSally was appointed to the Senate to replace the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after she lost a separate race that year against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. She lost her 2020 election bid to keep that seat to Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and has been out of politics since.

She identifies herself as an executive coach who serves on corporate boards.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Martha McSally reports she was sexually assaulted near Omaha, Neb.