Lady Gaga Opens Up About Surviving Rape: "It Changed Who I Was Completely"

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“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, that it was my fault."

Lady Gaga has made major strides as an advocate for victims of sexual violence, both through her nonprofit work and her musical tribute "Til It Happens To You," which was featured in The Hunting Ground, a documentary on campus rape. Part of her motivation to contribute to the cause is personal experience: Late last year, she first opened up about being raped as a teenager by a producer she was working with. At a TimesTalks panel Dec. 10 to promote The Hunting Ground, the singer elaborated on her experience, sharing just how challenging it was to overcome.

“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, that it was my fault," Gaga told the panel.

"I didn't tell anyone for, I think, seven years," she added, per a report by Us Weekly. "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."

The singer added that the consequences included long-lasting physical trauma, an effect of sexual violence that is too often ignored. "When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn't just have the immediate physical ramifications on you,” Gaga said. "When you re-experience it through the years, it can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress. 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."

The singer concluded that she was opening up to encourage frank discussion on the topic. “We don't want you to keep your pain inside and let it rot like an old apple on your counter, you know?" she said. "It's like, just get rid of all that trash. Let's get rid of it together.”

Watch The Hunting Ground here.

This article first appeared on Billboard.com.

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