The backlash Lady Gaga faced after talking about PTSD shows how hard it is for women to talk about their assault
It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity or not, the reaction is just the same: terrifying
This week Lady Gaga became the most recent celebrity to open up about their mental health struggles when she spoke about how she has lived for over a decade with Post Traumatic Stress-Disorder after being raped when she was only 19. She wanted to speak about her suffering as a part of her #ShareKindness campaign, which aims to encourage one million kind deeds to be done, to raise awareness of the silent battles that people have to go through.
Unfortunately, as with so many other cases of women speaking out about their assault such as Amber Heard, she has faced huge backlash from the public after her story was picked up by the media.
All of these people, whether they are accusing her of doing it for publicity, or suggesting that she hasn’t had the ‘correct’ response to being raped or even going as far as to blame her choices of clothing; they are undermining her suffering. These comments show how difficult it is for somebody, celebrity or not, to speak out about rape, sexual assault or damaging relationships. People doubt you and scorn you. They make you feel as if you’re the one that has done something wrong.
If you’re a celebrity, or if your case is in the public eye, you will find yourself receiving these hurtful comments from strangers on the internet. You already have the the terrible thoughts in your head, ‘What if I deserved it? What if it was my fault?’, so why on earth would you risk coming forward and having people you don’t even know agreeing with your worst fears? It can also happen in your community, in your friendship group. People will want to deny that their friend, their child, their neighbour was capable of doing something so horrible and will look to blame the victim to continue living in this bubble of denial.
When reporting a sexual assault, people can be asked ‘What were you wearing?’ and ‘Why couldn’t you keep your legs closed?’ which reinforces victim blaming culture and deters people from coming forward, as they feel they may be liable for punishment. Also, some cases, even when reported, go without follow up for months.
It is no surprise then, that figures from Rape Crisis illustrate that only 15 per cent of people that suffer from sexual violence choose to report it to the police. This of course, includes men too, as even though they aren’t subjected to being blamed for their clothing choices, they risk being emasculated when talking about their sexual assault as seen with the recent football coach scandal and Eric Bristow’s tweets claiming the abused players were not real men.
It is safe to say that Lady Gaga has shown immense bravery for speaking out about her ordeal, in the hope that she can encourage others to do the same, despite the huge amount of stigma that still clings to victims of sexual violence. It doesn’t matter that it’s taken over a decade, a name change and several persona reboots for her to reach a point at which she feels comfortable talking about what she has been through, she has become strong enough to share her story in the end and I applaud her for that.