Taylor Swift is in good company on Time‘s annual Person of the Year cover. The magazine named the Reputation singer as one of their 2017 “Silence Breakers”, along with Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, and Isabel Pascual — all women from very different backgrounds who, like countless others, experienced sexual harassment or assault. In a rare interview, Swift opened up about her #MeToo moment: meeting DJ David Mueller, whom she alleges groped her during a backstage photo-op in 2013.
“When we were posing for the photo, he stuck his hand up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek,” Swift wrote to Time. “I squirmed and lurched sideways to get away from him, but he wouldn’t let go. At the time, I was headlining a major arena tour and there were a number of people in the room that saw this plus a photo of it happening. 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.”
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She reported the incident, Swift said, and Mueller’s radio station conducted an investigation that ended with his termination. He later sued Swift for defamation, and she countersued for $1. It wasn’t about the money; for Tay, that dollar symbolizes how women “can always say no.” Similarly, the person cut off from Time‘s cover could symbolize the people whose stories haven’t been heard yet.
“I think that this moment is important for awareness,” Swift continued, “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. Going to court to confront this type of behavior is a lonely and draining experience, even when you win, even when you have the financial ability to defend yourself. Even though awareness is higher than ever about workplace sexual harassment, there are still so many people who feel victimized, afraid and silenced by their abusers and circumstances.”
When Swift and Mueller’s legal proceedings were in the national spotlight, Tay turned to Kesha — who’s currently involved her own lengthy legal battle against her former producer, Dr. Luke, whom she alleges sexually assaulted and emotionally abused her — for help.
“People have been largely very supportive of my story since the trial began in August,” Swift wrote, “but before that, I spent two years reading headlines referring to it as ‘The Taylor Swift Butt Grab Case’ with internet trolls making a joke about what happened to me. The details were all skewed, as they often are. … I spoke to Kesha on the phone and it really helped to talk to someone who had been through the demoralizing court process.”
Swift ended up winning her court case and $1. Mueller, however, still hasn’t paid up, an “act of defiance” Swift believes “is symbolic in itself.”
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