Lady Gaga Tells Oprah She Was 'Repeatedly' Raped at 19 and Developed PTSD
She developed PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, because she didn't '"process the trauma," she shared in an emotional interview about mental health.
Oprah Winfrey chose a big star—and a big topic—to kick off her first national arena tour in five years. The chat show queen sat down with Lady Gaga on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as part of “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” tour, which is presented by Weight Watchers Reimagined.
The two icons talked for an hour, covering Gaga’s fibromyalgia (she revealed that she was in “head-to-toe pain” during the conversation) and her relationship with her A Star Is Born co-star Bradley Cooper (strictly platonic, but they “did a really good job at fooling everyone”).
But the main focus of the interview was mental health—and things got emotional when Gaga opened up about being raped “repeatedly” by someone she knew when she was 19 years old. “I [...] developed PTSD as a result of being raped and also not processing that trauma,” she told Oprah.
Gaga put her failure to deal with the abuse down to the fact that her life was suddenly turned upside down when she became famous.
“I all of a sudden became a star and was traveling the world going from hotel room to garage to limo to stage, and I never dealt with it, and then all of a sudden I started to experience this incredible intense pain throughout my entire body that mimicked the illness I felt after I was raped,” she said.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the US, says working with a therapist after sexual abuse can help survivors overcome some of the challenges they might face. However, the group also points out that there’s “no timeline” for recovering from sexual assault or abuse, so if you don’t get therapy immediately after experiencing trauma, that doesn’t mean you can’t find it beneficial at any point in the future.
Gaga first revealed her rape in 2014, and two years later, in December 2016, she made her PTSD diagnosis public during an appearance on the Today show. She also posted a letter on the website of her foundation, Born This Way, sharing more about her experience with PTSD and addressing the common misconception that the condition only affects war veterans.
“Traditionally, many associate PTSD as a condition faced by brave men and women that serve countries all over the world," she wrote. "While this is true, I seek to raise awareness that this mental illness affects all kinds of people, including our youth.”
The mental health of our youth is still at the forefront of Gaga’s mind. She told Oprah that she believed there should be mental health classes in schools, and even vowed to do everything in her power to make a change.
“Mental health is a medical condition. It should be treated as a medical condition, it should not be ignored,” she said. “I take an oath as a commitment today, with you, it's 2020 and for the next decade and maybe longer, I'm going to get the smartest scientists, doctors, psychiatrists, mathematicians, brain surgeons, and professors in the same room together and we're going to go through each problem one by one and we're going to solve this mental health crisis.”
To speak with someone who is trained to help survivors of sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.
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