Lady Gaga released her first single of the year last week, “Til It Happens To You,” a powerful ballad explaining how you can’t relate to someone who has gone through a traumatic experience until it happens to you. The chilling music video, which has reached over 12.6 million views already, illustrates the horrifying reality of sexual assault on college campuses and how difficult it can be for victims to cope with what’s happened to them.
Gaga collaborated with songwriter Diane Warren to write this PSA, which was featured in “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about the reality of rape culture on college campuses and how college administrators often try to cover up rape incidents in order to preserve the image of the university.
Unfortunately, I’ve never watched “The Hunting Ground,” but I have watched Gaga’s music video a dozen times since its release. A warning at the start of the video reads, “The following contains graphic content that may be unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.”
The first time I watched the video, my reaction consisted of flowing tears and heaviness in my heart. As I watched a few more times, I just got really angry. I wanted to do something to stop the rapists and save the girls who were totally helpless.
It’s hard to imagine what you would do in situations like this because your imagination is completely different from reality. In my mind, I would fight off the attacker and escape without any harm, but that rarely happens in reality. Rapists can drug your drinks, catch you off guard or just use brute force to get what they want.
The video is raw and holds nothing back in hopes to wake people up to this epidemic that’s ruining the lives of women around the world.
The video followed three different events that can and do take place on campuses too often.
One girl was stormed by a friend in her dorm room, one was attacked in a bathroom and two roommates were targeted and drugged at a party.
After being attacked, the girls couldn’t even make it out of bed nor do things they loved such as making music and being with friends. They felt they couldn’t tell anyone what happened, so they just sat and soaked in self-hate for something that wasn’t their fault.
Rape culture puts the blame on victims of sexual assault instead of believing them and getting them help. Justifying the actions of a rapist means taking the side of a rapist, and that’s what makes victims feel hopeless and alone.
Rape culture has been an issue for too long, and recently, more people are beginning to stand up and try to put an end to it.
Last spring, at a Columbia University graduation ceremony, Emma Sulkowicz, a survivor of rape on campus, carried a mattress across the stage with help from four other students to bring attention to the universities lack of action after she reported what had happened to her. Cheers and applause broke out when the girls stepped on stage.
Hopefully, a huge event such as this opens some eyes to the horrors of sexual assault and how badly it can ruin a person’s life.
The video represented the hate that victims feel toward themselves by writing things such as “I am worthless” and “believe me” on their arms. As the video closes, friends and roommates step in and give the victims a chance to open up about what happened to them. As they started talking to their friends, phrases such as “I am worthy” and “I love myself” replaced the negative words that were written before.
Talking about something traumatic opens up hundreds of doors to better things. Friends and family are there to help you through anything and will still love you unconditionally. Victims of sexual assault aren’t just victims. They’re people.
Anyone can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE for help with any problems they may be facing.
Email Laura Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org