The following article contains allegations of sexual misconduct that some readers may find distressing.
Taylor Swift is using her platform as one of Time Magazine‘s People of the Year to send a powerful message to sexual assault survivors.
The ‘Call It What You Want’ singer is one of a group of men and women, dubbed the Silence Breakers, to receive the annual honor from Time for bringing awareness to widespread sexual misconduct taking place in Hollywood, Washington DC and other places and industries.
Swift spent much of this year engaged in a legal battle against Colorado DJ David Mueller, who sued Swift for alleging that he’d groped her while posing for a picture backstage at a 2013 concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
The 27-year-old bravely took the stand in the case and shared the lingering trauma of the incident, with the judge ultimately ruling in her favour and awarding her a symbolic judgment of $1 (as per her request).
Reflecting on the experience to Time, Swift said she was determined to fight back against her own alleged attacker in order to bring awareness to harassment faced by so many other women.
“Even though awareness is higher than ever about workplace sexual harassment, there are still so many people who feel victimized, afraid and silenced by their abusers and circumstance,” she said.
“When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1. To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.”
Explaining her decision to counter-sue Mueller, she insisted: “I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances and high stakes, imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance.”
Taylor acknowledged that she had the resources that many other victims of sexual assault don’t have at their disposal, but encouraged them to never suffer in silence.
“My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you,” she said. “You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.”
Among the other Silence Breakers who are sharing the Time Person of the Year honour with Swift are Uber engineer Susan Fowler, Fox News whistleblower Megyn Kelly, Harvey Weinstein accuser Ashley Judd and a woman whose face is deliberately obscured to represent countless other survivors of sexual assault.
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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