Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
In an Oscar night filled with politically-charged messages, Lady Gaga's voice was louder than ever.
After taking the stage surrounded by sexual assault victims, during this year's awards ceremony, the Grammy winner performed her nominated song, "Til It Happens to You," an emotional ode to survivors of sexual violence.
As the women stood united on the Academy Award stage, viewers of the live telecast were notably shaken by the message as they took to social media to thank Gaga for shining a Hollywood light on the decades-old controversial issue.
"Theres definitely a stigma around this song in addition to there being a stigma around sexual assault that people kind of shut down when you start talking about it and they don't know what to say and that's actually what happens to people who have been through a traumatic experience," she described during an interview on Elvis Duran and the Morning Show. "We shut down as well, so the conversation doesn't really happen at all."
Gaga understands the process firsthand—she has been suffering from the effects of a secret sexual assault for the last decade.
"I feel physical pain," she said during an interview with Elvis Duran and the Morning Show. "I actually suffer from chronic pain and it's from this paralyzing fear that I've experienced for almost 10 years."
According to the famous songstress, the distress of a trauma like sexual assault can manifest itself in long-term physical ways.
"When something traumatic happens, your brain disconnects so that it can handle it," she elaborated. "But, it stays in your body, in your tissues, physically in you."
Despite a decade of suffering, her attempts to share her story were often publicly brushed off.
"I was assaulted as a young girl and I have never told anybody," she revealed. "I've sort of tried to kind of say it [in interviews] but it always gets sort of swept under or nobody really says anything and they move on to some different gossip and you start to just feel like people don't care and I didn't think that anybody would care."
Regardless of the magnitude of her fame, Gaga asserts no level of celebrity would have been able to eliminate her hurting.
"It's the thing that I am the most ashamed of in my life and I've always felt that it was my fault," she said. "I have all the resources in the world to get through it and I'm still not over it."
Her distress was visible as recently as the first rehearsal for her Oscar performance, where Gaga says she arrived a crying "wreck." However, upon meeting her fellow survivors, the singer felt accepted in a way she had never felt before.
"That day was the first time in ten years that I was looked at like a human being….I will never forget it because I'm forever changed because I don't have to hide anymore, because I don't have to feel ashamed that it happened," she declared. "I'm not the dirt on the bottom of people's shoes because I went through this."
Ultimately, she's thankful to the Academy for giving her the platform to share her message—not only to help those who are suffering begin to heal, but also to elevate this harmful, but taboo issue to the forefront of global discourse.
"Theres so many people in the world that feel alone and this song—it heals them by bringing them together and it also reminds people that don't feel alone to feel empathy for others," she said.
"If we don't talk about these world issues in a deep way, we're not going to solve any of these problems," she concluded. "I thought that the Oscars was such a turning point for the world."