Lady Gaga Opens Up About Teenage Sexual Assault at TimesTalks Conversation

Lady Gaga participated in a powerful TimesTalk about sexual assault while discussing The Hunting Ground, an exposé documentary about the atrocities regarding campus rape in the U.S. for which she wrote the song “Til It Happens to You.”

The singer’s emotional ballad, co-written by Diane Warren, was incredibly personal for both ladies. Gaga explained last night (Dec. 10) that she didn’t tell anyone about her sexual assault for “I think seven years.”

I didn’t know how to think about it. I didn’t know how to accept it. I didn’t know how not to blame myself, or think it was my fault. It was something that really changed my life. It changed who I was completely.

“It changed my body, it changed my thoughts,” the Golden Globe nominee added. She elaborated:

When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn’t just have the immediate physical ramifications on you. For many people it has almost like trauma. When you re-experience it throughout the years after it, it can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress, so a lot of people suffer from not only mental and emotional pain, but also physical pain of being abused, raped, or traumatized in some type of way.

Watch a preview of the TimesTalks presents The Hunting Ground below:

She added, “Me and Diane wanted to open the door to any person that went through any type of experience to know that I was okay to feel that way and to share that, and that you don’t have to maybe defend yourself so much because until it happens to you, they don’t know how it feels.”

On raising social awareness for campus rape, she said she was asked to get involved based on her own history. “I think it was important to everyone that the person involved with singing the song had been abused, or had an experience like that so it was authentic. And it was important to me that we kept the integrity of that when making the record.”

On her song “Til It Happens to You,” Gaga explained,

It was part of the way we were working together because Diane was going ‘but what it’s just you, with the piano, it’s so powerful, we don’t need anything else.’ And I was going ‘no, I’m not going out like that. I’m not going out on this sad chord.’

…That’s not how I feel about it anymore. Because when somebody says to me, ‘Oh that happened to you? Oh, did that damage you?’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘You don’t know who the fuck I am, now. You don’t want to meet me in an alleyway. And that’s what we wanted young people and older people to feel all over the world that you can actually own your pain. And that can be a good part of you.

Gaga and the panel, which included Warren, Academy Award-nominated writer–director Kirby Dick and Academy Award-nominated producer Amy Ziering, also discussed victim-blaming, how our culture is prone to not believe victims, and how her industry played a part in making her feel like she did something wrong. “Because of the way that I dress, and the way that I’m provocative as a person, I thought that I had brought it on myself in some way. That it was my fault,” she added.

Gaga added further,

Not to take anything away from our politicians who are looking out for our country… some of them. I really hope that anyone watching this today hears that the most important people to change the world is you. I’m not looking to the government to change my life, I’m not looking toward the next president, I’m not looking toward our next world leaders. I’m looking at everyone in this room. I mean, you are culture. So if you care, and if your friend is going to rape someone in your fraternity or sorority, or in your school, or in a work situation, or in an alleyway outside a restaurant, whatever it is that your job is, if you say something and if you are a part of that greater world change, that is more powerful than any single person that’s in office.

See the panel’s entire TimesTalks below: