This week, U.S. Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez shared her own personal, traumatic experiences as they took place during the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. In a video on Instagram, she was vulnerable and honest. She recounted the terrorizing details of the day and referenced difficult forms of abuse she has survived in the past.
Her stories are challenging, and she revealed a great deal of strength in talking about them. She discussed the ways that trauma impacts both personal and collective experiences of safety.
I want to uplift this statement that she voiced:
“The accountability is not about revenge. It’s about creating safety. And we are not safe with people who hold positions of power who are willing to endanger the lives of others if they think it will score them a political point.”
So often, we think that accountability is about punishment. So we avoid it to protect those in power, or we dig in with revenge. Both of those pathways are different, as they don’t have the same footing when it comes to power. But in their respective ways, both can create more harm.
Accountability is about safety. And it’s necessary. None of us are safe if we keep empowering or protecting people who inflict violence. None of us are safe if we keep empowering or protecting those who are determined to condone it.