US Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said she is a survivor of sexual assault.
The Bronx congresswoman wept as she revealed her past trauma during an Instagram Live about last month’s Capitol riot.
“I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” she said. “And I haven’t told many people that in my life.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, one of the biggest stars in her party, did not say more about the attack.
Talking of the sexual assault, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said: “When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”
She said that conservatives like Texas Senator Ted Cruz – with whom she has feuded on Twitter – were using “the tactics of abusers” in denying Republican responsibility for the storming of the Capitol complex, which left five people dead.
During Monday night’s Instagram Live, Ms Ocasio-Cortez described hiding in her bathroom at her congressional office during the chaos of the Capitol riot last month.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said as she concealed herself behind the bathroom door, she glimpsed a white man storming into her office, shouting: “Where is she? Where is she?”
The congresswoman said it was a Capitol Police officer, but he looked at her with “anger and hostility” and did not identify himself as a member of law enforcement.
She said she and her staff did not know whether the officer was there to “help us, or hurt us”.
A pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol on 6 January as lawmakers gathered to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory amid challenges from some Republican lawmakers to the results.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said the ensuing mayhem was like a “zombie movie”.
She continued: “For so many people out there if you have experienced any sort of trauma, like just the fact of recognising that and admitting it is already a huge step.
“Especially in a world where people are constantly trying to tell you that you didn’t experience what you experienced or that you’re lying.
“Or that, you know, those are additional traumas on top of what you’ve already experienced, right, if you’re a survivor of abuse, of neglect, of verbal abuse, of sexual assault, you know, et cetera, there’s the trauma of going through what you went through.
“And then there’s the trauma afterwards of people not believing you, or trying to publicly humiliate you, or trying to embarrass you.
“And that also gets internalised, too, because a lot of times you don’t want to believe it either.
“You don’t want to think that that happened to you. You don’t want to think that X person hurt you.
“You don’t want to admit that you were a person who has been abused, assaulted, et cetera, because you don’t want to be ‘a victim’, right?”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she was prepared for criticism after sharing her sexual assault ordeal because it was not directly related to the Capitol riot.
“People are going to say that, ‘Oh, she’s just trying to make it about her,'” she said.
“And, like, all of those normal, nagging thoughts. And, like I said, all of your traumas can intersect and interact.”
She said Congress had made counsellors available for lawmakers, especially those who had encountered rioters, in order to help them process the ordeal.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez added: “Those folks who are just trying to tell us to move on are just like pulling the page, they’re using the same tactics of every other abuser who just tells you to move on.
“That man who touched you inappropriately at work, telling you to move on. Are they going to believe you?
“Or the adult who, you know, if they hurt you when you were a child and you grow up and you confront them about it and they try to tell you that what happened never happened.”