Sen. Joni Ernst, just days after details about her allegedly abusive marriage became public, said that she was sexually and physically abused by a man she dated in college.
Ernst talked about the previously undisclosed allegation in an interview with Bloomberg. The Iowa Republican said she knew the person who sexually assaulted her in college.
“I didn’t want to share it with anybody, and in the era of hashtag-MeToo survivors, I always believed that every person is different and they will confront their demons when they’re ready,” Ernst said in the Tuesday interview, according to the report. “And I was not ready.”
She never talked about the incident publicly. Ernst told Bloomberg she was in a relationship with a man who was “very abusive. He was physically and sexually abusive.” She said he sexually assaulted her and then threatened to kill himself if she broke up with him, according to the Bloomberg report.
Ernst said she called the sexual assault counseling center’s hotline at Iowa State University but never filed a police report.
“I was embarrassed,” she said. “I didn’t know how to explain it. I was so humiliated. And I’m a private person, when it comes to those things.”
A man who was friends with Ernst said that she had told him she had been raped shortly after she said it happened, according to Bloomberg.
After her court-filed allegations of abuse by her husband were made public, she addressed the matter with Iowa reporters.
“What I want people to understand is that I am the same person as I was last week. You just know more about what’s inside of me now,” she told reporters Wednesday in Iowa.
In the Bloomberg interview, Ernst went more in-depth about the alleged abuse in her marriage. She said Gail Ernst, her ex-husband, grabbed her by the throat in 2007 or 2008, threw her down on a staircase landing, and began pounding her head into the floor.
“It was very sudden and very violent,” she said. “It scared me.”
The 48-year-old said she is committed to defending her seat in 2020.
“I’m seeking re-election. I’m going to do it as a single woman,” she told Bloomberg. “People know my situation now. What I can do is be honest about what happened. And I can move forward. The problem is now I’ve been outed when I was not ready to talk about it. But now maybe it forces me to talk about it.”
Ernst also discussed her support of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexual assault.
“I do believe she experienced trauma, but the evidence and witnesses presented by her contradicted her story,” Ernst told Bloomberg. “I don’t believe Justice Kavanaugh was the source of her trauma.”
The senator said she can support the president, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, and support victims of sexual assault.
“It’s outrageous to suggest that anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault should therefore be a Hillary Clinton supporter,” Ernst said.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Report: Sen. Joni Ernst says she was sexually assaulted in college, details abuse allegations