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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has “survivor guilt” from her husband’s attack

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She compared coping with trauma to “survivor’s guilt,” says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying the aftermath of the attack on her husband Paul in October by an assailant searching for her shocked the California Democrat’s family has left behind.

“If he had fallen, slipped on the ice or had an accident and hurt his head it would be horrible, but to have it be an attack on him because they were looking for me is real – they call it ‘survivor guilt.’ or something,” Pelosi said Thursday in her most detailed remarks yet about the aftermath of the attack. “But the traumatic effect on him, this happened in our house.”

“It turned our home into a crime scene,” she added.

Pelosi told reporters that her husband is “doing well” but that he has a long recovery, noting that the trauma extends beyond herself and her husband — her children and grandchildren are also dealing with it.

The speaker, who announced on Thursday that she will not seek a leadership position in the next Congress, also addressed Republicans who mocked her and her family in the wake of the attack.

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“If your partner were in a situation where other people would make a joke about it, think it was funny, collect money for bail for the offender, put out a conspiracy theory about what it was about – it’s so awful to thinking that the Republican Party has come to this, and no real rejection of it by anyone in the party,” she said. “It’s so sad for our country.”

At a campaign event, former GOP gubernatorial candidate from Arizona, Kari Lake, drew crowds to laughter after he joked that Pelosi’s home “doesn’t offer much protection.” Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) also lightheartedly explained the situation at a campaign rally the day the news broke, saying that while “there is no room for violence anywhere… [Nancy Pelosi] back to be with him in California. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shared a Twitter thread from a far-right activist who challenged the idea that the alleged attacker was a militant right wing — even though the attacker’s blog appears to be deeply involved in election truths and political conspiracy theories.

On Thursday, Pelosi thanked her GOP colleagues who stood by her, saying most of them were “nice to me.”

“I feel very comforted by many of my Republican members here,” she said. “So I don’t paint everyone with the same brush.”

Democratic colleagues hugged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as she left the House floor on Nov. 17. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Elizabeth Frantz/The Washington Post)

Paul Pelosi, 82, underwent surgery on his skull after police said after David DePape, 42, brandished a hammer, broke into the Pelosis’ home and yelled, “Where’s Nancy?” — a chant reminiscent of what was heard during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The attack on Pelosi’s home comes after a dramatic increase in threats against lawmakers and government officials in recent years. Three men were convicted in November of complicity in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In another case, a man was convicted in late October of threatening to kill Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). Earlier this year, a man with a gun was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh after he threatened justice.

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Nancy Pelosi revealed in a November 7 interview with CNN — her first televised sit-down after the attack — that Capitol police woke her up in Washington to warn her of what had happened.

The Capitol police officers “told us to come in and talk to you,” Pelosi said in the interview. ‘And I think, my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul because I knew he wasn’t going to be on the road, shall we say.”

“Paul wasn’t the target, but he paid the price,” she told CNN. It’s a sentiment she echoed on Thursday when she described how difficult it was when violence hit so close to home.

“People tell me that people — if you had an accident, you would go miles around to avoid passing that accident scene,” she said. “Or if you had a serious health problem, you wouldn’t go near the hospital where you were treated, because it would bring that trauma back.”

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