• U.S.

Lady Gaga on Being Raped at 19: ‘It Changed Who I Was Completely’

2 minute read

Lady Gaga – who recorded the emotional song “Til It Happens to You” for The Hunting Ground, a documentary on campus rape – has opened up about her own struggle in the aftermath of being raped as a teenager.

“I didn’t tell anyone for I think seven years. I didn’t know how to think about it,” Lady Gaga said in a TimesTalks panel discussion. “I didn’t know how to accept it. I didn’t know how to not blame myself or think it was my fault. It’s something that really changed my life. It changed who I was completely. It changed my body, it changed my thoughts.”

When asked how it changed her body, Gaga, 29, explained, “When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn’t just have the immediate physical ramifications. For many people it has almost like trauma, where you re-experience it through the years after it. It can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress. So a lot of people suffer not just emotional and mental pain, but physical pain as a result of being abused, raped or traumatized in some way.”

Last year, Gaga revealed she was raped at the age of 19, but said she’s taken great strides to make sure that experience doesn’t define her.

“I don’t want to be defined by it. I’ll be damned if somebody’s gonna say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did is all boiled down to one d—head that did that to me,” she told Howard Stern on his radio show last December. “I’m gonna take responsibility for all my pain looking beautiful and all the things I’ve made out of my strife. I did that.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com