Lady Gaga Bravely Talks About Being Raped As A Teenager: "It Changed Who I Was Completely"

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It takes insurmountable strength and courage for any woman — whether she's someone in or out of the public spotlight — to open up about a rape and its devastating effects. Around this time last year, Lady Gaga (whose real name is Stefani Germanotta) revealed that she was raped as a teenager by a music producer.

Earlier this year, Gaga also recorded the haunting track "Til It Happens To You," which is featured in the documentary The Hunting Ground, a must-see film that chronicles the horrifying epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.

More recently, Gaga joined a TimesTalks panel led by Frank Bruni — alongside Diane Warren, Kirby Dick, and Amy Ziering. There, she discussed her involvement with the song (and why she wanted it to speak directly to fellow survivors), the film's urgent subject matter, and her own personal experience.

"I didn't tell anyone for, I think, seven years," Lady Gaga stated during the talk, adding that she "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. It changed my body. It changed my thoughts."

When asked to further elaborate, the singer explained: "When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn't just have the immediate physical ramifications on you. For many people it has almost, like, trauma. When you re-experience it throughout the years after it, it can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress. So a lot of people suffer from not just emotional and mental pain, but physical pain as a result of being abused, raped, or traumatized in some type of way."

Gaga also talked about the shame and guilt that can come with this type of trauma, as she found herself asking, "What did I do in my life to bring this upon myself?" The actress/activist hopes that we get to the root of rape culture and provide better support for survivors. She talks about "the power in listening to each other" and says that when any young person reaches out for help after being raped, adults should do everything in their power to believe that person and help him or her.

Be sure to watch the entire eye-opening TimesTalk (it's worth watching the full hour), in which Lady Gaga also opens up about "owning your pain" as a victim, why this kind of experience is "different for everyone," and how it "changes people's lives forever."

You can also watch the powerful, Catherine Hardwicke-directed video for Gaga's The Hunting Ground theme, "Til It Happens To You," below.

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