David Hogg, an activist and survivor of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, publicly offered Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) his support Wednesday from one trauma survivor to another.
Ocasio-Cortez revealed Monday that she is a survivor of sexual assault. She described how that trauma was compounded by her experience during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when, she said, she thought she was going to die as she spent hours sheltering in a dark legislative office as rioters tore through the building.
As HuffPost’s Emma Gray wrote in her analysis of the disclosure, “The congresswoman’s story was largely met with support, empathy and gratitude for her conviction that healing, both personal and collective, requires truth and accountability. But for a handful of people — mostly white, mostly male — on the internet, Ocasio-Cortez’s disclosure of her past sexual assault struck a particularly fragile nerve.”
On Wednesday, a cruel hashtag trended on Twitter as right-wingers sought to belittle and invalidate the progressive lawmaker’s traumatic experience on Jan. 6. Ocasio-Cortez did not acknowledge the people going after her but simply noted the statistical likelihood that most people know a survivor of trauma.
“Many decide whether their story is safe with someone by how they respond to other survivors. Don’t push them away,” she tweeted.
Hogg has faced his own share of vitriol since he survived the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three years ago. As a high-profile lobbyist for gun control, he’s been the target of numerous right-wing conspiracy theories and attacks, including from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who was filmed in 2019 berating and harassing Hogg.
“I support you and you are valid,” Hogg wrote to Ocasio-Cortez. ”For what it’s worth, know that the right wingers love to try and convince you that your trauma is invalid and to just suck it up. It’s disgusting and wrong on so many levels but there are many more of us that support you than don’t.”
He also wrote about some of the strategies he leans on to deal with hurtful comments and those who try to detract from his experience.
Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday that she grappled with whether to share her story but ultimately decided to do so after a conversation with another survivor, New York state Sen. Alessandria Biaggi (D), who she said helped her see the importance of sharing her experience.
“To be honest, every step of the way there were affirmers,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, shouting out Biaggi, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Democratic New York state Assemblywomen Yuh-Line Niou and Catalina Cruz for their parts in helping with her decision to speak out.