‘I Do Feel That it Happened for a Reason,’ Sen. Ernst Says of Private Details of Alleged Rape and Abuse That Became Public

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, said she isn't sure she would have ever voluntarily discussed painful moments of her past but said her stories are now helping others.

"I do feel that it happened for a reason," Ernst said.

Ernst claimed that her ex-husband, Gail, physically attacked her while they were married. Those details became public in January in her divorce papers, first published by Cityview. 

Later that month, she also later revealed that an acquaintance raped her while she was a student at Iowa State University. 

Ernst said women have told her since then that they also are survivors of abuse. "One single moment will not define your entire being," Ernst said of the message she tries to share with those survivors.

Watch Ernst's discuss the pain of her past going public and how she tries to help others now because of it. 

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