Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday said she was a sexual assault survivor, a disclosure she made during a strikingly personal and harrowing recounting of her experiences during the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol last month.
“I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said during an Instagram Live appearance, her voice wavering with emotion. “And I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.”
Speaking to more than 150,000 viewers — a number that fluctuated up and down through the evening — Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 31, walked viewers through the days leading up to the riot as well as the day of it.
In gripping detail, she described how she had been forced to hide from the violent mob and to navigate a Capitol under siege and how she had heard a man demand, “Where is she?” while at times fearing for her life.
At one point, she appeared to wipe away tears.
Those who argue that it is time to move on from the events of that day, she said, were “using the same tactics of every other abuser who just tells you to move on.”
They were the tactics, she suggested, “of that man who touched you inappropriately at work, telling you to move on.”
“Are they going to believe you?” she said. “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.”
“This,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez added, referring to holding those responsible for what happened on Jan. 6 accountable, is about “basic humanity.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes parts of the Bronx and Queens, has become one of the most prominent progressive leaders in the United States since defeating then-Representative Joseph Crowley in a stunning primary upset in 2018.
She is an influential voice in both city and national politics, and her endorsement is among the most sought-after among progressive candidates, though her positions have at times put her at odds with her party’s more moderate members.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez often draws intense, sometimes vitriolic criticism from those on the right, and she has been a target of derision and attacks from some prominent Republican men in particular, including some of her congressional colleagues. She has not shied away from confrontation.
After Ted Yoho, a Republican congressman from Florida at the time, reportedly used sexist language and expletives to confront her, she received an outpouring of support, including from some Republicans, as she jabbed back on Twitter. Mr. Yoho later apologized on the House floor, though he disputed using some of the language that had been attributed to him.
Just last week, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, suggested on Twitter that he was prepared to work across party lines with the congresswoman on the issue of the online brokerage app Robinhood’s imposing trading limits amid the GameStop frenzy.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s response to Mr. Cruz, who had embraced former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless and false claims of election fraud, made clear that the violent rampage at the Capitol by supporters of Mr. Trump still felt raw.
“I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out,” she replied to Mr. Cruz on Twitter. “Happy to work w/ almost any other G.O.P. that aren’t trying to get me killed.”
Toward the end of her Instagram Live appearance, she lashed out at Mr. Cruz and Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, who had baselessly challenged President Biden’s victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
“We knew that violence was expected,” she said. “We knew that that violence was predicated on someone telling the lie, the big lie, about our elections.”