Why Lady Gaga Opening Up About Her Teenage Assault Is So Important

Lady Gaga London Fashion Awards 2015We all know Lady Gaga as outspoken and fearless. But her revelations about being raped as a teenager -- and how deeply, profoundly that affected her life -- prove that she's also brave enough to be vulnerable. She truly wants to use her voice for good, and she is making a difference.

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The "'Til It Happens to You" singer really opened up about her experience, and the aftermath, during a TimesTalks panel discussion in NYC to promote the campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground. Lady Gaga says she didn't tell anyone about being raped as a teenager for what she thinks is seven years.

"I didn't know how to think about it," she shared. "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."

The singer bravely went on to talk about how for many years, she thought that she was somehow at fault. And that the trauma of being raped affected her life -- mentally and physically -- for years and years.

More from The Stir: Lady Gaga's Latest Single Delivers an Intensely Personal Look at College Campus Rape (VIDEO)

Being open and vocal about this kind of experience can't be an easy thing to do, no matter how much time has passed. And being famous doesn't somehow insulate Lady Gaga from feeling shame, or vulnerability, or fear. I deeply admire this woman for her guts and bravery. Because what she's doing is so important.

Every time someone shares her (or his) story like this, it makes things a little bit easier for other survivors of sexual assault. It helps to change the dialogue, to change the very reality of our culture. Maybe someone will hear this story and feel empowered to press charges against her own rapist or abuser. But just as importantly -- hearing a story like this helps people feel okay simply talking about their own stories. It can make it easier for someone to reach out for help. And it can help a survivor let go of some of the shame inside. Shame that shouldn't be there, because it's NEVER a victim's fault .... but shame that so often is there, deep down, where it's hard to face, hard to heal.

Thanks to people like Lady Gaga, and other brave folks who come forward with their stories (including men, like the author of the incredible memoir Fire Shut Up In My Bones, Charles Blow), I feel hopeful that our culture is shifting. I'm hopeful not only that things are getting better for women today, but also that our culture will be easier and safer for my daughter as she gets older.

Clearly, Lady Gaga has that same hope, that same understanding that by sharing her story, she is helping to change things for the rest of us.

"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," Lady Gaga shared with the TimesTalks panel. "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."

Thank you, Lady Gaga. Your openness and honesty is a healing, empowering force in the world. You truly are a rock star.

 

Image via Splash News

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