Only Lady Gaga’s most loyal fans would know that the song “Till It Happens to You,” which was co-written by the singer-turned-actress, holds a deeper meaning to Gaga herself. The song, which focuses on the stages of surviving a rape, comes from her own experience as a survivor of sexual assault. Like many others, Lady Gaga has managed to put the experience behind her to the best of her ability, but she admits it has also affected and shaped her life in ways she hadn’t thought possible.
American Horror Story actress Lady Gaga comes out as a rape victim
When Lady Gaga was 19 years old, she was assaulted by an older man, someone nearly twice as old as she was at the time. As is the case with many rape victims, Gaga held onto the incident as her own dirty secret, feeling shameful and alone, for seven years, before she could bring herself to talk about it. As hard as she tried to control her thinking, she couldn’t seem to keep from blaming herself, feeling certain that it was her persona or her style of dress that encouraged the assault.
“You re-experience it through the years after it; it can triggerpatterns in your body of physical distress,” said Lady Gaga in an interview with Howard Stern. “That one incident changed my life forever.”
In writing “Till It Happens to You,” Lady Gaga felt that only a survivor of rape could really do the song justice. She says that the singer must be someone familiar with the emotions of rape, as well as the hope and encouragement of surviving that kind of assault, which the singer also portrays.
Lady Gaga says she was inspired by the gratitude she received from fans for sharing her experience, many of whom have told her that she has given them hope and inspired them to keep fighting as well. As a result, Lady Gaga enlisted her mother’s help to start the Emotion Revolution organization, which helps people to focus on the positive aspects of their lives. The organization mainly seeks to help those that have endured some traumatizing experience in their lives, which may have left them plagued with negative or damaging emotions. Lady Gaga says she has a deep understanding of what they are going through, based on her own life experience.
Lady Gaga has come to know triumph in spite of a traumatizing past
If surviving sexual assault has taught Lady Gaga anything, it’s that the word “defeat” isn’t in her vocabulary. Her third studio album, ARTPOP, performed poorly enough that the sales figures might have discouraged a lesser artist, but Gaga’s tenacity wouldn’t be extinguished. She bounced right back in an entirely new category, creating a jazz album with legendary crooner Tony Bennett. That album is a critically acclaimed chart topper.
That’s not all she’s accomplished, either. While attending the Americans for the Arts awards dinner, Lady Gaga received an award along with screen legends Sophia Loren and Herbie Hancock, as well as a select few others.
“[Receiving this award is] the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Lady Gaga continued with her speech, which seemed to pour directly from her soul. At one point, the entertainer reflected on her childhood and the dreams she had as a young girl.
“I suppose that I didn’t know what I would become, but I always wanted to be extremely brave and I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe of what passion looks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.”
It seemed to be a good year for the American Horror Story actress and pop star. She was also recognized as Billboard Magazine‘s 2015 Woman of the Year, another prestigious honor. Upon receiving this honor, the wife of Taylor Kinney commented that she had stopped trying to impress others this year and decided instead to be herself and do what she wanted to do for herself.
That seems to have worked for her.
[Featured image by Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images]