Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and known professionally as Lady Gaga, the American singer and songwriter opened up on being sexually assaulted in an emotional interview on the first episode of Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry’s new Apple TV+ docuseries, The Me You Can’t See, which tackles the stigma around mental health.
She revealed how she suffered a breakdown after she was raped by a music producer at the age of 19, who had threatened to destroy all of her music if she didn’t take off her clothes. She mentioned the alleged rapist then dropped her off pregnant on a corner because she was sick and vomiting.
She broke down in tears as she described her assault, which took place in her early days in the music industry.
“I was 19 years old, and I was working in the business, and a producer said to me, ‘Take your clothes off,.” I said no and I left, and they told me they were going to burn all of my music. And they didn’t stop. They didn’t stop asking me, and I just froze and I… I don’t even remember.”
Gaga first discussed her rape in 2014, and addressed it in songs such as Swine and ‘Til It Happens To You – which soundtracked The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual assault on US college campuses; and was nominated for an Oscar in 2016. She said her breakdown came years later and was still going on when she accepted her Oscar for A Star Is Born in 2019.
She admitted she suffered a “psychotic break” after the traumatic ordeal and “wasn’t the same girl”.
“I had a total psychotic break and, for a couple years, I was not the same girl. The way that I feel when I feel pain was how I felt after I was raped. “I’ve had so many MRIs and scans where they don’t find nothing. But your body remembers.”
She disclosed that the experience has meant she has suffered with self-harming. It took her two and a half years to recover, she said, but “getting triggered once” is enough for her to slip back into feelings of physical and emotional pain.
The 35-year-old singer said she would never reveal the name of her attacker. However, she wants to tell her story in the hopes it will help other people. She went on;
“I don’t tell this story for my own self-service, because, to be honest, it’s hard to tell. I feel a lot of shame about it. I’m not here to tell my story to you because I want anybody to cry for me. I’m good.”
“But open your heart up for somebody else. Because I’m telling you, I’ve been through it and people need help. So, that’s part of my healing, being able to talk to you.”
She ended on a hopeful note, saying that, after years of effort, she had “learned all the ways to pull myself out of it. It all started to slowly change.”