Former Arizona Sen. Martha McSally said she was sexually assaulted on Wednesday while running along the Missouri River on the Iowa-Nebraska border. 

McSally, who has previously spoken about being a rape survivor, detailed the ordeal in an Instagram video. She said she was running along the river when a man came from behind her and “engulfed me.” She noted that she was slated to speak in Omaha, Nebraska, about “courage and heart, and how to be a brave heart.”

“And I just had it put to the test,” she said. “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.”


“I was in a fight-flight-or-freeze, and I chose to fight,” she added. “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.”

The former Republican senator said she was OK.

The incident occurred just before 10:55 a.m. in Council Bluffs, Iowa, near the Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park by the Interstate 480 overpass, the Council Bluff’s Police Department said. 

Responding officers did not find any suspects. The attacker was described as a White or Hispanic man, between 25 to 40 years old with a stocky build. 

McSally previously spoke about being raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force. She made the disclosure during a 2019 Senate hearing on sexual assault allegations in the military.

“My drive to fight against sexual assault in the ranks is not from the outside looking in,” she said at the time. “And it is deeply personal.”

McSally served several terms in Congress before being appointed to the Senate after the passing of John McCain. She was defeated in a 2020 special election by Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut.

Following the attack, McSally said she “still has a lot to process.”

“I will do that in time,” she said. “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.”

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