Lady Gaga's first single and music video of the year “Til it Happens to You" isn’t just another song to add to Gaga’s list of chart-toppers. Instead, it’s a powerful and important PSA about campus sexual violence, released just ahead of a large new report underscoring the widespread nature of the problem.
On Monday, the Association of American Universities announced the results of the largest ever survey on campus sexual assault, which polled more than 150,000 students from 27 universities and found that 26.1 percent of senior female undergraduates were victims of sexual assault.
This is startling given that sexual assault can have serious affects on mental health, with survivors facing an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression, self-harm, and even suicide, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Originally featured in the documentary The Hunting Ground earlier this year, the video for "Til it Happens to You" continues the film’s goal to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses. It depicts the attacks of four people (and opens with a trigger warning due to disturbing content) with very different stories, reminding viewers there isn’t just one face of this epidemic.
Importantly, the video also captures the aftermath. Throughout the video, survivors display written words on their bodies like “believe me” and “I am worthless," showcasing both the emotional toll of the incident itself as well as the lack of support after the fact that many survivors experience.
In a statement about the video, director Catherine Hardwicke told The Huffington Post: "I hope that this PSA, with its raw and truthful portrayals, will send a clear message that we need to support these courageous survivors and end this epidemic plaguing our college campuses."
On Twitter, Gaga announced that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the song will be donated to advocacy organizations.
She also shared this message about the meaning of the song.