Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's disclosure empowers other sexual assault survivors

"The testimony of AOC was extraordinary. She gave us a gift."

LOS ANGELES - That's how Patti Giggans Executive Director of Peace Over Violence describes the disclosure made by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram Monday night. 

Giggans have worked in the trenches helping survivors of sexual assault to heal from their attacks for decades. She knows their painful journey. So when AOC revealed the insurrection at the Capitol had brought back her own trauma from a sexual assault in her past, rape treatment leaders were listening with great interest.

"This was a true testimony," said Giggans. "She was connecting the dots from hiding in order to save her life..... to what it's like being a sexual assault survivor."

Giggans added that " New trauma triggers old trauma."

In an emotional post viewed by more than 4 million people at the time of this article, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez choked back tears as she described her crippling fear as she heard the mob in the U.S. Capitol, and hid out for hours in a colleague's office.

AOC said, "I thought I was gonna die."

In the post, she apologizes to those close to her, who were hearing for the first time she had been sexually assaulted years ago. The congresswoman described in detail what it felt like to have the Jan. 6 riot trigger a wound from her past, the pain of a rape survivor.

Giggans says AOC's words will encourage other survivors to tell their story; which she said is key to their healing. Their stories don't have to appear on Instagram or television, just tell a trusted friend she advised.

"It's that inward spiral in your head. Air it. You have to share it," Giggans said.