Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” Empathizes With Survivors of Sexual Assault
October 26, 2015
Lady Gaga’s latest music video, entitled “Til It Happens to You,” opens with the message: “The following contains graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.” It then goes on to show four diverse characters being sexually assaulted and their resulting emotional anguish. Messages like “I am worthless” and “Sometimes I hate myself” appear on the victims’ bodies, and one of the four even ends up dropping out of school. The “Til It Happens to You” video helps those who have never been sexually assaulted begin to understand what sexual assault survivors may go through. Understanding that struggle can help people be better allies, and it may inspire them to support those around them that have been sexually assaulted.
The survivors of sexual assault in this music video are diverse, which shows that sexual assault is a universal problem. It can happen to anyone no matter their race, gender identity or sexual orientation. “Til It Happens to You” doesn’t just show the psychological effects of sexual assault; it also demonstrates how vital it is that survivors be supported after the traumatic event. It isn’t until after the survivors are comforted by loved ones that the messages on their bodies change from “I am worthless” to “I am worthy” and “Sometimes I hate myself” to “I love myself.” It’s important to mention that though the messages change in a matter of seconds (because music videos need to present their message in only a few minutes), it may take a sexual assault survivor months or years to recover from their trauma and they need ongoing support through the whole process. In a world where sexual assault survivors are often blamed, ridiculed and ostracized, it’s amazing that this video shows them being consoled and encouraged.
The video also includes the statistic that one in five women in college will experience sexual assault, which shows how rampant sexual assault on college campuses is. The National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) number appears at the end of the video as well. And while this song was originally created for The Hunting Ground, a 2015 documentary about rape on American college campuses, the lyrics of “Til It Happens to You” are applicable to many situations. For example, this song can express the feelings of anyone dealing with depression, domestic abuse, the death of a loved one, etc. People can say what they want about Lady Gaga, but no one can deny that she takes risks to better her “little monsters” and the rest of humanity.