An issue that hits close to home. Lady Gaga has already recorded the emotional ballad “Til It Happens to You” to promote the horrifying documentary The Hunting Ground, which exposes the atrocities of campus rape. And on Thursday, Dec. 10, the Golden Globe–nominated actress and singer, 29, got candid about her own experience with rape as a teenager during a TimesTalks session for the film in NYC.
“I didn’t tell anyone for, I think, seven years,” Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, told the panel of women. “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.”
Her pain wasn’t just emotional. The “Applause” singer also noted, “It changed my body.”
“When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn’t just have the immediate physical ramifications on you,” she elaborated. “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.”
Being in an industry that’s focused on looks and that often sexualizes women, Lady Gaga admitted to blaming herself for the rape.
“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. “That it was my fault.”
She has since learned not to blame herself but rather her attacker. In December 2014, she was somewhat forced to open up about her rape during an appearance on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern Show, and since then, she has become a stronger person and hopes to inspire her fans who might be going through a similar situation.
“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.”