Lady Gaga An Unexpected, Outspoken Advocate For Sex Assault Survivors

Christina St Jean - Author
By

Sep. 22 2015, Updated 10:40 a.m. ET

Trust Lady Gaga to take popular opinion about her image and spin it on its ear. Mother Monster has hit the airwaves in a song that became the sixth most popular song on iTunes in a day, Til It Happens To You, and in doing so, has taken a lead role in advocacy for sexual assault survivors.

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In getting there, though, Lady Gaga definitely had some struggles. Legendary songwriter Diane Warren, who co-wrote the song with Lady Gaga, said to People that the singer broke down a few times during the performance of the song. In reality, that news may be of little surprise — Lady Gaga revealed in late 2014 that she was raped at age 19, or about a decade ago. Since the song bowed as part of the documentary The Hunting Ground, praise has been universal about Lady Gaga’s support for sexual assault survivors.

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On September 21, the Association of American Universities publicized the results of the largest survey ever conducted about campus sexual assault. Over 150,000 students from 27 universities were polled, and it was discovered that 26.1 percent of senior female undergrads were victims of sexual assault.

Lady Gaga noted via Twitter that she was hopeful that Til It Happens To You would be relatable for people everywhere who had experienced pain.

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According to Huffington Post, Warren said that she felt the video for Til It Happens To You shed a light on what had been very dark and concealed territory for sexual assault survivors for years.

“It seems like it’s all coming out of this dark closet it was in,” Warren said, noting that times had changed greatly. “It was secretive. It wasn’t what you talked about. But now, people are saying, ‘We’re not going to be victims anymore, we’re going to call you on it, whether it’s on a campus or anywhere.’ ”

While Lady Gaga has taken on the role of shedding light on mental health and gay rights, the role of advocate for sexual assault survivors may be somewhat surprising, given her prior predilections for dressing in meat dresses and exotic high heels. However, it might be that an advocate as outspoken as Lady Gaga is exactly what is required in a situation like this — Lady Gaga has long been respected as someone who will speak out and champion those who have felt in the past like they do not have a voice. For many, there is no larger group that feel voiceless than sexual assault survivors.

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As a part of that group herself, Lady Gaga has brought an evocative, haunting song to the masses. She has let them know, as part of her connection to sexual assault, The Hunting Ground documentary, and Til It Happens To You, that virtually anyone who has been through a devastating life experience, such as rape, that it is survivable and that they will be all right. Her participation in The Hunting Ground solidifies her image as a singer who does not shy away from the hard issues and as a celebrity who wants to support those who feel they have limited support.

Lady Gaga has definitely retooled her image as an artist and shown that she will tackle the hard problems and force people to look at them. She has let sexual assault victims know that they aren’t victims anymore, but survivors that can live and breathe and find their collective way back to themselves.

[Photo by Jason Merritt / Getty Images Entertainment]

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