Taylor Swift is among the group of women collectively recognized by Time as one of the Silence Breakers in the magazine’s Person of the Year portfolio for their bravery in speaking up about sexual harassment.
And in an interview for the issue, it’s easy to understand why she’s among the mix.
In August, Taylor Swift won a groping trial against former radio host David Mueller, who was found guilty of assault and battery against the singer following a 2013 meet-and-greet where, Swift says, he grabbed her rear end. Swift reported the incident to the Colorado radio station where he worked, which led him to sue her for defamation, and eventually led her to countersue for $1, which she still has not been paid.
So what caused her to speak up about the incident? “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,” she told Time, explaining the incident occurred in a public setting. “It was important to report the incident to his radio station because I felt like they needed to know.”
In the interview, Swift opens up about the emotions she felt in court, and how they affected her mother.
“When I testified, I had already been in court all week and had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger, and harass my team including my mother over inane details and ridiculous minutiae, accusing them, and me, of lying,” she said. “My mom was so upset after her cross-examination, she was physically too ill to come to court the day I was on the stand. I was angry.”
Swift also spoke of the support she received during and after the trial, especially from public figures. “I spoke to Kesha on the phone and it really helped to talk to someone who had been through the demoralising court process,” she said.
Ultimately, she used her interview to share a message for victims of assault and harassment.
“You might be made to feel like you’re overreacting, because society has made this stuff seem so casual. My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you,” she said.
“I think that this moment is important for awareness, for how parents are talking to their children, and how victims are processing their trauma, whether it be new or old. The brave women and men who have come forward this year have all moved the needle in terms of letting people know that this abuse of power shouldn’t be tolerated,” she added.
“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.”