Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Jason Crow (D-Colo.), who lived through the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last month, spoke out about how stigma toward survivors discussing their trauma is “killing people.”
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez, a survivor of sexual assault, spoke about the power of trauma survivors “telling our stories and retelling it.” It is a “really important part to healing and getting through it,” she said.
Crow, who served in the U.S. Army in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, noted that survivors of trauma, “whether its combat trauma or other kinds of trauma,” are “impacted in different ways.”
“The stigma that is put on survivors, that prevents survivors from actually coming forward and getting the help that they need — it’s killing people,” he said, noting that an average of over17 veterans die by suicide per day in the U.S.
Crow described being in the gallery of the House on Jan. 6 and receiving notifications that the Capitol had been overrun and that “rioters were everywhere.”
That day, after Trump again lied about the legitimacy of the U.S. election, an armed mob of his supporters descended on the Capitol as lawmakers were certifying the election results. Five people died in the violence, including a Capitol Police officer.
Crow said he’d never imagined he’d be back in a situation where he’d be “fearful for my life,” as he had been in the Army.
Earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez gave a play-by-play of the moments she thought she was going to die during the insurrection. Asked by CBS why she chose to share that she is a survivor of sexual assault in her recounting, she said that people bring their “whole selves” when they “encounter such a terrifying moment” as the storming of the Capitol.
“We respond with the entirety of our life experience,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And so I felt that for transparency to people, to understand why I was responding in the way that I did on the sixth, I had to share what I was bringing with me.”
On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez organized a “special order” hour for lawmakers to speak on the House floor about their own experiences of surviving the riots. Nearly a dozen Democratic lawmakers gave emotional testimonies, several of them through tears.
As for Republican colleagues who have dismissed Ocasio-Cortez’s story in recent days, Crow did not mince words:
“It’s just horrific,” he said. “This revictimization and this minimization of survivors — this is a big part of the problem, and it has to stop.”