Taylor Swift was awarded a symbolic $1 in her sexual assault case against an ex-radio host from Denver, but the pop star's decision to speak out is worth a whole lot more. According to ABC News, after Swift's case more sexual assault victims are speaking out.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, told ABC that its national hotline saw a 35 percent increase in calls from Friday to Monday. RAINN's president Scott Berkowitz said that Swift choosing to have a trial was "a great demonstration to other victims that there is strength in coming forward and pursuing justice."
Berkowitz added that Swift's willingness to talk about the 2013 assault in which ex-DJ David Mueller groped her underneath her skirt at a meet-and-greet showed others that they don't have to stay quiet or feel ashamed. "Seeing someone that they respect, that they identify with [state they've been assaulted], has a big impact," he told ABC News. "I think that will encourage others to come forward."
That is a good thing, being that RAINN reports only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. The most common reason RAINN found that survivors from 2005 to 2010 didn't assault was fear of retaliation. Others said they believed it was a personal matter or was not important enough to report.
During her testimony, Swift made it clear that she wouldn't be made to feel bad for what ex-DJ David Mueller did. “I’m not going to allow you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” Swift said. “Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions — not mine.” (Mueller had sued Swift for $3 million in damages alleging she got him fired from his job, but his case was thrown out.)
She was defiant and unafraid, telling the court when asked why she was the only one who saw Mueller grab what Swift called "a handful of ass" she said, “The only person who would have a direct eye line is someone laying underneath my skirt and we didn’t have anyone positioned there.”
"I think this could have a long-term impact and help shape the conversation," Berkowitz told ABC News of her testimony. "While the circumstances of assault are different, [Swift] can still serve as a symbol for sexual assault -- that you don't have to take it."
After the case, Swift released a statement: "I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this," she continued. "My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves."
Swift has already reached out to Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation which looks to end sexual violence.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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