During a candid appearance on The Howard Stern Show last year, Lady Gaga revealed that she was raped at age 19. Since bravely coming forward with her story, she has since released "Til It Happens To You," one hell of an emotional track about surviving sexual assault. The powerful song, co-written with legendary songwriter Diane Warren, is prominent in the college campus assault documentary film, The Hunting Ground. In several new interviews, Lady Gaga has continued to open up about being sexually assaulted — and how writing and singing about it has empowered her.
"I didn't tell anyone for I think seven years. I didn't know how to think about it," Lady Gaga said of being raped during a recent TimesTalks panel discussion. "I didn't know how to accept it. I didn't know how to not blame myself or think it was my fault. It's something that really changed my life. It changed who I was completely. It changed my body, it changed my thoughts."
The iconic singer coming forward and speaking about her experience as a victim of sexual assault was undoubtedly a pivotal moment for fans and sexual assault victims all over the world. Gaga using her platform to discuss such an insanely personal yet important topic brings awareness; it brings hope. It brings a voice to the many victims who feel forced to suffer in silence. And Lady Gaga being Lady Gaga, she didn't just speak about it — she also sang about it.
"The song kind of became a conversation between two women who'd been sexually abused. Finding our common connection through this song and her sharing that with me — Diane doesn't co-write with anybody, ever — it meant a lot to me; it was really a gift," Gaga told the L.A. Times about "Til It Happens To You." "She was saying, 'I want to share this with you; this is ours.' And that's what we're saying to people: We want to share our pain with other people."
"Diane will tell you, it was really hard for me when [the song] came out," the singer continued. "I was really stressed out about it. Every time I listen to it, I cry. Every time I get a text about it, I always feel sick. It's like this thing you don't want to face. But because she wanted to face it with me, it reminded me of what the song is for."
To sing through such unimaginable pain, to sing words that are triggering, to re-live past trauma is, without question, a harrowing experience. But Gaga pushing through it and recording the song was not only healing for her, it's healing — and empowering — the countless sexual abuse survivors out there. It's the type of song that makes you realize how important music is and how much it can make a difference — whether that change is on a personal level or a global level. And it looks like, for "Til It Happens To You," the track is achieving both.
"In the end of the song, it's like, 'Yeah, I was abused. So what? You don't want to meet me in an alleyway,'" Lady Gaga told The L.A. Times. "Then it belongs to you. But I was just saying to someone, you don't know how much it's destroyed you until 10 years later. I used to be this, then I realize I'm not like that anymore because I was destroyed. But now I'm back."