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A former U.S. senator and Air Force pilot from Arizona reported a sexual assault while she was jogging near Omaha, Neb., according to reports.
Martha McSally, who lost to former astronaut and retired Navy captain Mark Kelly in 2020, documented the frightening incident in a video posted to her Instagram account.
“I was just sexually assaulted while out running. I am safe. I am ok. It could have been much worse. I have a lot to process. For anyone else who has been assaulted, speak up. Find your power. Process it emotionally, spiritually, neurologically. I am safe,” she said.
“I was just running while I was out running along the Missouri River on the Iowa side. I’m here in Omaha to speak tonight about courage and heart, and how to be a brave heart. And I just had it put to the test,” she added.
“I realize I’m still in an adrenaline state,” she said, adding again that she was fine before going on to explain what happened.
“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 said. “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. I don’t think they found him, and I’m OK,” McSally explained, going on to emphasize the importance of the manner in which she responded.
“But, in this moment, I just wanted to share that I chose to fight and I’m OK right now, in part, because of that. It could have been much worse. I still have a lot to process and I will do that in time,” she said, adding that she will deal with what happened in a “healthy way.”
“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 as she reflected on a past, more harrowing sexual assault.
The former Air Force pilot recounted in 2019 that a superior officer raped her during her time in uniform. “In one case, I was preyed upon and then raped by a superior officer,” she said before reflecting on her most recent experience.
“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. Not giving anyone advice on how to respond in situations like this. It could have been much worse. But I chose, in the moment, it wasn’t really a decision. I just sprung into action to go after him and have him running from me. But I’m safe and I’m glad that I did that,” she said in her video.
It’s not clear if McSally has additional political ambitions, but a Senate seat in her home state of Arizona is up for grabs next year.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent, currently holds the position; she has not yet declared her intention to run for reelection.
U.S. Rep. Reuben Gallego (D-Ariz.) has announced a run, as has 2022 GOP gubernatorial contender Kari Lake, setting up a possible three-way race for a seat in a state that was once solidly red but has trended purple over the past few election cycles and is now a battleground state.