Lady Gaga, who recorded the emotional song Til It Happens to You for a documentary on campus rape called The Hunting Ground, opened up to TimesTalk about the struggles she faced after being raped as a teenager.
“I didn’t tell anyone for I think seven years. I didn’t know how to think about it,” Lady Gaga explained in a TimesTalk panel discussion. “I didn’t know how to accept it. I didn’t know how to not blame myself or think it was my fault. It’s something that really changed my life. It changed who I was completely. It changed my body, it changed my thoughts.”
When Gaga was asked to elaborate on how her body was changed by the traumatic experience, the 29-year-old said, “When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn’t just have the immediate physical ramifications. For many people it has almost like trauma, where you re-experience it through the years after it. It can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress. So a lot of people suffer not just emotional and mental pain, but physical pain as a result of being abused, raped or traumatized in some way.”
It took the Just Dance singer years to get over that physical and mental battle she spoke of, often blaming herself for it all. “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,” she said, according to E! News. “That it was my fault.”
Gaga revealed that she was raped when she was 19 last year. But she said that she has worked to make sure that the experience does not define who she is, PEOPLE reports.
“I don’t want to be defined by it. 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—head that did it to me,” she said to Howard Stern on his radio show in December of 2014. “I’m gonna take responsibility for all my pain looking beautiful and all the things I’ve made out of my strife. I did that.”
And since then, she feels like it is easier to talk about it and to use it to help others.
“I’m here because when I look out onto the sea of beautiful young faces that I get to sing and dance for, I see a lot of people who have secrets that are killing them,” she said. “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.”