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Lady Gaga Opens Up About Being Raped As A Teen: ‘I Thought It Was My Fault’

The singer and actress got admirably candid about trauma and rape culture.

Last December, during an interview on SiriusXM’s “Howard Stern Show,” Lady Gaga revealed she was raped as a teenager. Now, the 29-year-old is sharing more about her story, candidly explaining how being sexually assaulted changed her.

“I didn't tell anyone for, I think, seven years,” Gaga said on Thursday (Dec. 10) at a TimesTalks session for the campus rape documentary “The Hunting Ground.” “I 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.”

Elaborating on the physical effects she faced, Gaga explained why being raped isn’t a cursory experience — the pain lasts far longer than a single night.

“When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn't just have the immediate physical ramifications on you,” she said. “For many people it is 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 only mental and emotional pain, but also physical pain of being abused, raped, or traumatized in some type of way.”

Having a job as an entertainer in the often hyper-sexualized music business didn’t help either, Gaga said, because it made her self-conscious that she was partially to blame.

“Because of the way that I dress, and the way that I'm provocative as a person, I thought that I had brought it on myself in some way,” she said. “That it was my fault.”

Gaga’s experience helped inspire her Grammy-nominated ballad “Til It Happens To You,” which appears in “The Hunting Ground,” and for which she released a moving music video in September. Ultimately, Gaga hopes the song, as well as her own story, will strike a chord with fans who’ve been victims themselves.

“I'm here because when I look out onto the sea of beautiful young faces that I get to sing and dance for, I see a lot of people who have secrets that are killing them,” she said. “We don't want you to keep your pain inside and let it rot like an old apple on your counter, you know? It's like, just get rid of all that trash. Let's get rid of it together.”