State Sen. Biaggi shares painful chapter in childhood involving underage sex abuse
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi spoke to News 12 in her first sit-down interview since the scandal erupted involving her former boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In a two-hour, wide-ranging interview, Tara Rosenblum asked the Westchester Democrat to take News 12 behind the curtain of her time spent working in the Cuomo administration.
Sen. Biaggi also discusses a painful chapter during her childhood that involved underage sex abuse.
Rosenblum: One of the first votes that you cast as a state senator was in favor of the Child Victims Act , extending the statute of limitations of abuse survivors to file charges against their abusers. That vote was extremely personal for you.
Rosenblum: Do you feel comfortable to share some of the details of the abuse that you endured as a child?
Biaggi: Sure. So I had not spoken about the abuse that happened to me until I was about 31 years old. And so this happened when I was very little. I was in my early years of life and I was sexually abused as a child. And it went on for more than a year. And it's something that I did not even remember until I was a teenager. And that is a very common now understanding about trauma, understanding abuse, going through a lot of not only healing, but therapy about it. I understand that trauma survivors, abuse survivors, are people who repress things.
And most people not only repress it, but some people don't even remember it until even much later in their life. I remembered it when I was a teenager, but I was absolutely determined to take that with me to my grave. I was never going to tell anybody about it.
Rosenblum: Why not?
Biaggi: I felt ashamed of it. And I felt like maybe there was something that I did that caused this to happen to me. And there was a moment in my life, even though I had gone through therapy, had shared it with my therapist, there was a moment in my life again. And the timing of this really matters because this was 2017. It was September. I was in a room of people where it was like a professional development environment and people were getting up and sharing their own stories and talking about things that had happened to them. At this very point in time, there were about eight or nine women and men who got up to the microphone to share, and every single one of them was either a rape survivor, an abuse survivor. Their dad raped them, their uncle, their boyfriend, their friend. And I sat in the chair in the room and I frankly was in awe because up until that moment, I always felt alone in it. And in that moment I didn't. And I don't know what it was, but that sharing signaled to me like it's time to share what happened to you. I saw it as an opening. And so that's what I did.
And I told my family, and it was not easy. And it was probably one of the most painful experiences that I have ever gone through. But it was also simultaneously one of the most empowering experiences, because that was the thing in my life that I was most ashamed of. That was the thing that I was hellbent on hiding from everybody. It's the thing that caused me to have an eating disorder for 15 years, which I only understood later as to why it made me have an eating disorder. I now know that people who have been abused, they they engage and have all kinds of reactions.
Sen. Biaggi on working with Gov. Cuomo:
Rosenblum: You worked for the governor for just under a year back in 2017. Did you ever experience any of the treatment or behavior that was outlined in the report?
Biaggi: I didn't experience sexual harassment directly, although there are two stories I'm happy to share with you about my direct experience with the governor. But I think that overall, it's important to paint the picture for your viewers it was a place that was very dark. I think it's important to continue to focus on that because people go into public service and enter the executive chamber where the governor's main office is to really do meaningful work. And when we entered into that office, almost instantly, it was a place that wasn't like other offices, and so things like yelling at people and berating people regularly.
Biaggi is one of a handful of Democrats who have already publicly announced they're considering joining the governor's race next year. Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul said last week that she expects to run as well.