Lady Gaga shares important truth about sexual assault in graphic video

By Managing Editor

Lady Gaga released her new single, “Til It Happens to You,” on Sept. 17. Penned by Gaga and Oscar-winning songwriter Diane Warren, the song serves as the soundtrack to Warren’s documentary about college rape, “The Hunting Ground,” released in January. A strings-driven ballad, the song is raw, heartfelt and powerful, but what is even more powerful is the five-and-a-half-minute music video PSA that was released alongside the track.

The clip, written and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, acclaimed director of the independent film “Thirteen,” tells the story of four women of different backgrounds, including race and orientation, who are sexually assaulted, depicting the effects the assaults have on their lives. It is an important piece that raises awareness for an issue affecting all college campuses.

The footage, while graphic and uncomfortable, as the disclaimer appearing before it begins states, “reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.”

Though unsettling, the graphic scenes of the clip force its viewers to come face-to-face with the harsh realities of college rape.

“After watching ‘The Hunting Ground,’ I was inspired by the survivors who had the courage to tell their stories,” Warren said in a statement to TheWrap. “This song, with its message of hope and empowerment, is my heartfelt tribute to them… I hope that this PSA, with its raw and truthful portrayals, will send a clear message that we need to support these courageous survivors and end this epidemic plaguing our college campuses.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college.

College rape truly is an epidemic, and this video not only helps to erase the stigma many survivors of sexual assault face, but it further opens the doors to allow more open conversations about sexual assault.

The power and effectiveness of the video speaks to the passion that its collaborators all feel surrounding the issue.

In December 2014, Gaga revealed in an interview with Howard Stern that she was raped when she was 19 years old.

The video is meaningful, but its message is even more powerful coming from somebody who has survived sexual assault and can attest to the feelings and emotions that many survivors experience.

It is important to see celebrities expressing support for the issue, but it is even more special to hear this message from someone who has actually experienced it.

Warren told The Huffington Post that the song’s lyrics can be applicable to anyone going through a difficult time, including depression, suicidality, being bullied and loneliness.

“I want people to know they’re not alone, and they’re not victims, but they’re survivors,” she said.

This, perhaps, is the most important message shared in the clip. Rather than treating people who have experienced sexual assault as victims, they should be recognized as survivors: It recognizes their strength and bravery rather than emphasizing any feelings of vulnerability that survivors of sexual assault might be experiencing.