It’s not just Sen. Martha McSally. MeToo and more women in Congress mean more stories like hers

It’s not just Sen. Martha McSally. MeToo and more women in Congress mean more stories like hers .

Tears ran down California Rep. Katie Porter’s face last month as she listened to Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell describe on the House floor the impact of growing up in a household with an abusive father.

Porter wasn’t sure she would be able to tell her own story of domestic abuse in such a public way.

But the freshman lawmaker stepped up to the lectern at a news conference Thursday where lawmakers were pushing for renewal of federal legislation to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

She knew Dingell would be there supporting her, as would Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, another survivor of domestic violence.

And when Porter did choke up as she described the unhelpful response she received after calling the police, Dingell rubbed her back.

“It’s strength in numbers,” Porter told USA TODAY afterward about why she decided to face the cameras.

In the first few weeks of the new Congress, female lawmakers have been speaking out about their personal experiences, a consequence of both the record number of women in Congress and the continued reverberations of the #MeToo movement.

“I think it helps. I hope it helps inspire others – to get through their own dark times,” Arizona Sen. Martha McSally told CBS “This Morning” about her dramatic disclosure at a Senate hearing Wednesday that she was raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force.

In January, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst disclosed that she was raped in college, an emotionally wrenching story she decided to share after her separate allegations of assault by her then-husband inadvertently became public in divorce proceedings.

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