How Lady Gaga is an Advocate for Sexual Assault Survivors
This weekend saw Lady Gaga dive into the Super Bowl Halftime Show and put on a flashy and well-rehearsed set. For some, she’s just a pop artist and strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. However, many don’t know that Lady Gaga is also a sexual assault survivor.
In late December 2014, Gaga, real name Stefani Germanotta, opened up about her rape at 19 by a man 20 years her senior.
“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. […] 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.”
A subject that she had never shared with even members of her family, Gaga said she was ashamed. This feeling is incredibly common in assault cases. Being the victim of an assault is never that person’s fault, no matter what you were wearing or how you were acting. On average 404,000 women and 72,000 men experience sexual offences per year according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
Gaga explained how therapy was a factor into recovering; she wasn’t able to completely put her experience behind her. As a result of her assault, Gaga has suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a common result after experiencing sexual assault. Her brave declaration prompted Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan to tweet it was “vain-glorious nonsense.”
No, soldiers returning from battlefields do.
Enough of this vain-glorious nonsense. https://t.co/WR2ODolv8v
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 10, 2016
Comments such as this may discourage many people to come forward and disclose their experience. It comes as no surprise that on average only 15% of sexual offences report to the police.
Instead of arguing over the matter, Gaga simply offered to do an interview to discuss her experiences with the aim to educate those like Morgan who don’t believe violence and assault can cause mental illness. PTSD is not only a military illness after the trauma of war.
In 2015, Gaga was involved in documentary, The Hunting Ground – a shocking and eye opening look into US college campus rape. Available to watch on Netflix, the documentary explores how many elite universities across America deal with allegations of abuse and rape. Gaga co-wrote and sang the Oscar nominated theme song ‘Till It Happens To You’ that included lyrics “You tell me it gets better, it gets better in time/You say I’ll pull myself together, pull it together, you’ll be fine/Tell me, what the hell do you know? What do you know?”
At the 2016 Oscar ceremony (nominated for Best Original Song) saw the then Vice President Joe Biden introduce Gaga. The two worked on raising awareness and change the culture of sexual assault in college campuses through the It’s On Us Initiative. Her Oscar performance was praised as the highlight of the night as the singer took to the stage with a group of male and female sexual assault survivors, to stand hand in hand in solidarity.
As a result of her performance, It’s On Us received almost 10 times more pledges after traffic to the website soared, as more people became actively involved in ending sexual assault on campuses.
Although her Super Bowl show wasn’t the politically charged performance many were expecting, Lady Gaga still showcased her vision for equality through her set list that included LGBTQ+ anthem ‘Born This Way’ and ‘God Bless America’.
Nothing will ever take the memory of an assault away but we applaud people in the public eye such as Lady Gaga who can be bravely speak out and give hope to others through her music and activism. The 6th to 12th February is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week and at UK SAYS NO MORE we want to raise awareness for the help that is available for all those who have suffered at the hands of another and suffer in silence; help is available.
How you can make a difference
UK SAYS NO MORE aims to raise awareness to end Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault – we can to this together by encouraging discussion, sharing resources, and breaking down the common myths around these issues; working together with the UK SAYS NO MORE partner organisations to strengthen our action for change.
It’s so important that we let survivors of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence know that what happened is not their fault. The blame lies entirely with the perpetrator.
You can make a difference by speaking openly about these issues, learning about topics such as sexual consent and sharing this information with your friends, family and colleagues; and by adding your photo the gallery to stand united with others nationwide who are determined to put an end to all forms of domestic and sexual violence.