Lady Gaga Opens Up About Rape: 'I Didn’t Tell Anybody'

'I didn't even tell myself for the longest time,' the singer tells radio host Howard Stern.

A common response to the rape allegations made against Bill Cosby of late has been, "Why did these women wait so long to take action?" But the trauma of sexual assault can take years to process, if a survivor ever fully processes it at all, something Lady Gaga unfortunately knows all too well.

During a visit to "The Howard Stern Show" Tuesday (Dec. 2), the Cheek to Cheek singer opened up about her experience being taken advantage of by a music industry insider when she was 19 years old.

"I was a shell of my former self at one point," Gaga told Stern and co-host Robin Quivers. "I didn't tell anybody. I didn't even tell myself for the longest time."

Although the 28-year-old New Yorker said that therapy helped her heal, for a long time she self-medicated with alcohol, pills and other substances to avoid processing what had happened. This delayed recognition, Quivers pointed out, might explain why the 17 women who have come forward with accusations of sexual assault against Cosby waited so long to bring their allegations to light.

Along with therapy, Gaga said she turned to music to reclaim her power. "Swine," the ARTPOP track she performed while being vomited on at SXSW last March, was the result.

"I wrote a song called 'Swine,'" she said. "The song is about rape, the song is about demoralization, the song is about rage and fury and passion -- and I had a lot of pain that I wanted to release."

That release inspired the festival performance, from the mechanical bull to the incorporation of "vomit artist" Millie Brown. Gaga explained that the controversial onstage action held a message for the world: "You could never ever degrade me as much as I could degrade myself, and look how beautiful it is when I do."