Rape Survivors Pen Letter to Lady Gaga, Diane Warren for Song "Til it Happens to You"
The four young women, whose campus sexual assaults were detailed in the documentary 'The Hunting Ground,' said the song will help other victims feel less "isolated or alone."
The four sexual assault survivors who helped inspire Lady Gaga’s internationally hailed music video, "Til It Happens to You," have written to the singer and to the song’s co-writer Diane Warren, thanking them in moving terms for their artistic support.
The song, which never has been released as a single, is the haunting theme of Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s acclaimed documentary, The Hunting Ground, which details the experiences of Annie E. Clark, Andrea L. Pino, Sofie Karasek and Kamilah Willingham — all of them sexually assaulted on their college campuses.
The film, which debuted at Sundance, will be aired later this year on CNN and already is the subject of pre-Oscar buzz, as is the theme song.
As of Sept. 24, the song’s music video — directed by Twilight helmer Catherine Hardwicke — had generated nearly 12 million views online. The song has also become a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter, with Oprah Winfrey, Rachel Platten and senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett among its online supporters. The video currently is No. 4 on the Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks chart, the highest rating ever for one of Lady Gaga’s videos.
This week, Clark, Pino, Karasek and Willingham wrote to Gaga and Warren to express their gratitude for the song and video:
“Since we first came forward with our personal stories of sexual assault to our family, to the media and in The Hunting Ground, our lives have changed significantly,” they wrote. “A burgeoning movement to end campus rape has swept to schools across the country, inspiring new educational initiatives, legislation, and, most importantly, a widespread community of support for survivors. Within this community, the four of us have carried the weight of pressuring our institutions to reform, and have dedicated ourselves to this effort."
“The release of your song will have an unparalleled impact on the culture of campuses nationwide," they continued. "Imagine a survivor who, after hearing your song, no longer feels isolated or alone. Picture that survivor’s friend, telling that survivor that it’s not her fault … We want to thank you both for having the courage to write and perform this song and for allowing your talent, your music, your lyrics and your voices to tell our stories."
Warren responded that, “The letter from the survivors from the documentary The Hunting Ground that was sent to Lady Gaga and me made me cry. I am humbled by this brave and beautiful letter and being able to write a song that can not only speak to this cause but can hopefully help bring some healing as well.”