Congress members in the Capitol during Jan. 6 attack rely on support group to address trauma

During the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Congresswoman Norma Torres hid and then crawled on the floor of the balcony in the House chamber. At one point, an officer helped her put on a gas mask.

Torres was supposed to travel to Washington D.C. to mark the one year anniversary of the insurrection, but says she couldn't do it.

"I found myself checking in yesterday to my flight and this morning and I, honestly, I just can't be there tomorrow... It's just too much," said Torres, who represents parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

The trauma of surviving that day continues to haunt Torres.

The Department of Justice has arrested and charged more than 725 defendants across the country for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack, but Torres says it's not enough. Some members of Congress, former White House staff and President Trump haven't stopped questioning the results of the 2020 election.

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Without mentioning Trump by name, Biden blamed him over and over again for the violence that erupted at the Capitol last year.



"It's really difficult still this day to believe that American citizens could be so nave to believe that their election, that their vote had been stolen. They know that their behavior, that their words is wrong, but they continue to blow that whistle of hate because it benefits their campaign. Honestly, no campaign is more important than our democracy," said Torres.

Congressman Jimmy Gomez, who represents a large chunk of L.A. County including Koreatown and downtown Los Angeles, also hid from rioters in the Capitol one year ago.

"I always believed that we would lose our individual liberties first and then we would lose our government. I never thought it could happen the other way around where you lose your government and then you lose your individual liberties and I think on January 6th, we came close to losing that government," said Gomez.

Gomez says he suffers from PTSD because of Jan. 6 and continues to be triggered by the attack.

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The U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, has been described as the worst attack on American democracy since the Civil War.



One thing that's helped Gomez and Torres is the formation of a support group they call The Gallery Group - members of Congress who hid on the balcony during the insurrection, now bonded forever.

"They just get it and we can always lean on each other without any judgement," said Gomez.

"Through text messages, participating in group therapy sessions and just being there for each other when any one of us needed a hug, a nice word, or just to vent," said Torres.

Congressman Gomez hasn't been back to the balcony since the attack and had planned to go Thursday on the anniversary to help him heal, but is quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19.



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A year after the Jan. 6 insurrection, some of the lawmakers who were trapped in the upper House balcony that day are still recovering from lingering trauma.

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