Former Arizona Senator Martha McSally said she was sexually assaulted while running along the Missouri River in Iowa on Wednesday ahead of a speaking event to talk about “courage and heart”, she said in a video message uploaded to social media.
“I’m still in an adrenaline state,” the Republican continued. “I am ok.”
Council Bluffs Police Department Officers responded to Ms McSally’s 911 call after the incident, in which she said an unidentified male “came up behind me… and engulfed me in a bear hug” before he “molested and followed me until I fought him off.”
Ms McSally said after the incident she entered a state of fight, flight or freeze, which occurs when the body responds to something it perceives as threatening.
In this instance, the former senator said she chose to “fight.”
“I ran after him. I threw my water bottle at him,” she said. “I called 911 and waited for the police to come.”
On Thursday, the Council Bluffs Police Department said it responded to an assault at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park around 10.53 am.
“The investigation revealed that a male assaulted Matha McSally as she was jogging on the River’s Edge Service Road South of 1-480 bridge underpass,” authorities said in a written statement.
“Ms McSally lost sight of the suspect prior to the officers arriving,” the statement continued. Police were unable to locate the suspect, who they believe to be a man aged between 25 to 40 years old with a stocky build.
Ms McSally was in the area for a speaking engagement on Wednesday night with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
The investigation into the attack remains ongoing.
The former senator said the incident triggered memories of other sexual abuses she’s faced in the past.
At a Senate hearing in 2019, Ms McSally revealed that she was preyed upon and raped by a superior officer during her time in the air force. While speaking to The Wall Street Journal in 2018, she said she was sexually abused by her high school coach as a teen.
“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,” Ms McSally said in the video message of the recent incident. “I’m safe and I’m glad I did that.”