Prior to co-writing “Til It Happens to You” with Diane Warren, Lady Gaga had alluded to being a victim of sexual assault in songs like “Swine” and a complimentary NSFW performance of it at the 2013 iTunes Festival in London. Back then, the naturally brunette beauty peeled off her on-stage costume (“I knew I had to show you what’s underneath all of the theater, so hear I am” she said) and told the audience about her traumatic experience.
“I went through some really tough times and tough times I’ve never talked about because I didn’t feel that I needed to use it for people to like my music,” she said. “It’s really scary when you’re young and you don’t know what it means to be grown up yet, so you start hanging out with adults and you think, ‘Oh, this must be what adults do.’ But it wasn’t what adults do. And it wasn’t normal.”
The Artpop and Born This Way singer turned to her work for solace. “I felt like trash on the inside, I felt empty. So I wrote this song to let go of all that pain. I wrote this song to hopefully help you get rid of yours,” she added. And while the 29-year-old pop star has since let the world in on her emotions, also writing “Til It Happens to You” to directly address her troubled past, some of those closest to her didn’t fully know about her sufferings until Sunday, when the Golden Globe-winning actress and Hollywood darling took the stage at the 88th Academy Awards to perform the Oscar-nominated song.
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In fact, Lady Gaga took to Instagram Tuesday to reveal that her grandmother and aunt Sheri didn’t know she was a survivor of sexual assault until her Oscars performance, where she took the stage with 50 other survivors for a powerful, unforgettable delivery.
My grandmother (in the middle) and my Aunt Sheri (on the right) both called me the day after the Oscars because I never told them I was a survivor. I was too ashamed. Too afraid. And it took me a long time to even admit it to myself because I’m Catholic and I knew it was evil but I thought it was my fault. I thought it was my fault for ten years. The morning after the Oscars when I talked to my grandmother Ronnie, with tears in her eyes I could hear them welling through the phone she said to me “My darling granddaughter, I’ve never been more proud of you than I am today.” Something I have kept a secret for so long that I was more ashamed of than anything– became the thing the women in my life were the most proud of. And not just any women, the ones I look up to the most. #BeBrave #speakup #tilithappenstoyou
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“My grandmother (in the middle) and my aunt Sheri (on the right) both called me the day after the Oscars because I never told them I was a survivor. I was too ashamed. Too afraid,” she wrote. “Something I have kept a secret for so long that I was more ashamed of than anything—became the thing the women in my life were the most proud of. And not just any women, the ones I look up to the most.”
Talk about inspiring.