‘Til It Happens To You

Samantha Higgins

I have never been a big fan of Lady Gaga; sure, I would sing along to her music on the radio, but as far as her as a person, I felt like she went too far just to get a little attention. However, with how many people look up to her on a daily basis I completely admire the fact that she is using her celebrity to raise awareness about such an important issue: college sexual assault.

Lady Gaga’s new music video addresses sexual assault on campus (AP photo)
Lady Gaga’s new music video addresses sexual assault on campus (AP photo)

Lady Gaga recently released her music video for “Til it Happens to You,” and it has exploded on social media. From the documentary “The Hunting Ground” the video begins with a disclaimer warning: “The following contains graphic content that may be emotionally unsettling but reflects the reality of what is happening daily on college campuses.” The video then proceeds to show scenes of sexual violence occurring in dorm room settings and at college parties.

Throughout these difficult scenes are the most powerful lyrics I ever recall hearing in a song. She sings about the cliché things that sexual assault victims are told everyday by people they trust and expect to support them, like “you tell me it gets better in time” and “you told me hold your head up and be strong, cause when you fall you gotta get up and move on.” She responds to those comments, saying “‘Til your world burns and crashes, ‘til you’re at the end, the end of your rope, ‘til you’re standing in my shoes, I don’t wanna hear a thing from you.”

The video shows, at the end, the survivors of sexual violence being empowered by their fellow supporter and community. The entire video shows the cycle from being abused, the horrible things that a victim hears, to fighting every day to become a survivor and come to terms with what has happened to them.

She also approaches that it can happen to anyone but, as in the title, once it does happen the reality is very real, singing throughout the song “till it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.”

Lady Gaga has openly talked about being raped at 19 and sharing that it didn’t affect her until years later, it did traumatize her.

She tweeted to her followers that she hopes they felt love and solidarity through the song and perhaps would be able to find peace in knowing that no one in alone. Along with making this very powerful music video, a type of Public Service Announcement to draw attention to college sexual assault everywhere, a portion of the sales of the song go to organizations that combat sexual assault and support survivors.

Regardless of how you feel about Lady Gaga, there is no denying that she has become a type of voice for the generation, often speaking out about things happening in the world and not being afraid to go against the grain.

This video reaches hundreds of thousands of people, and I know my respect for her grew immensely.

To see a celebrity, a role model to so many young men and women, using her influence to raise awareness instead of just trying to make money is important.

Now I only hope this message continues to spread, continues to grow, until the topic is no longer taboo and more people take a stand against sexual assault.