The moving ballad and graphic video for Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens To You" served as an outlet for Gaga to deal with her experience being raped as a teen. But it's also a vehicle for outreach to other women who have gone through something similar.
Written in collaboration with Diane Warren, the track is featured in the new film, "The Hunting Ground," a documentary about the prevalence and effects of rape on campuses across the country.
On Dec. 10 in New York, Lady G. sat down for a TimesTalks session where she opened up about some of the lasting impacts sexual assault had on her.
"I didn't tell anyone for I think seven years," she said, according to Us Weekly.
"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."
(Now 29, Gaga has confirmed in the past that the incident involved a much older music producer and that it happened when she was 19. She denied a rumor that her attacker was Dr. Luke, the producer accused of assaulting Kesha.)
"It changed my body," the Golden Globe nominee continued. "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."
Like many other survivors, Gaga worried the incident had been her fault.
"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," said the singer.
The TimesTalks session wasn't the first time she discussed the experience publicly. Last year, the Mother Monster appeared on "The Howard Stern Show" and was asked point blank if she'd ever been raped. he answered with honesty and candor, then explained how she'd come to realize the attack was not her fault -- and that it was important to move on.
"I don't want to be defined by it," she said. "I'll be damned if somebody's gonna say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did is all boiled down to one d--khead who did that to me."
Adding that she knows many of her fans also have "secrets that are killing them," she spoke of the importance of solidarity in healing.
"We don't want you to keep your pain inside and let it rot like an old apple on your counter, you know? It's like, just get rid of all that trash. Let's get rid of it together."
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