(The Hill) — Former Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said she was sexually assaulted Wednesday during a run along the Missouri River on the border of Nebraska and Iowa.
“I am okay,” McSally said in a video shared to Instagram after the run, while she was “still in an adrenaline state.”
“A man came up behind me, and he engulfed me in a bear hug, and he molested and fondled me until I fought him off,” she continued, describing the event. “I then chased him down. I said a lot of swear words.”
“In this moment, I was in a ‘fight, flight or freeze,’ and I chose to fight. I ran after him. I threw my water bottle at him. And I chased him into the brush, where he was then hiding, as I called 911 and waited for the police to come,” McSally added. “I don’t think they found him. And I’m okay.”
The former Arizona senator, who has openly discussed her experience in the Air Force after being sexually assaulted by a superior, said she still had much to process about the experience.
“I know it’s tapped into a nerve of other sexual abuse and assault that I’ve been through in the past, which I’ve healed from as much as I feel can be done,” she said. “But in this case, I felt like I took my power back.”
“He tried to take power from me, but I turned it on him, and he was running from me, instead of the other way around,” McSally continued, noting that she was “not giving anyone advice on how to respond in situations like this.”
She added, “It wasn’t really even a decision. I just sprung into action.”
McSally served in both the House and the Senate — replacing the late Sen. John McCain (R). She is a frequent speaker on “how to overcome fear, build exceptional teams, and be agile and resilient in a turbulent world,” according to her website.
She was giving remarks in Omaha, Nebraska, on Wednesday night “about courage and heart and how to be a brave heart.” The former senator said she just “had it put to the test.”
“I still have a lot to process. And I will do that in time. But I am committed to ensuring that I settle myself down, neurologically,” she said. “And I process this through in a very healthy way, which is what I teach other people to do as well.”