Taylor Swift has spoken publicly for the first time about the sexual assault case she won in 2015 against US DJ and radio personality David Mueller.
Swift and four other victims of sexual harassment, some well-known, some not, posed together to represent ‘The Silence Breakers’ on the cover of Time magazine after the #MeToo movement was named Time’s Person of the Year 2018 (the magazine chose a movement over an individual).
In a rare interview the Look What You Made Me Do singer discussed the incident, when Mueller “stuck his hand up [her] dress and grabbed onto [her] ass cheek” while posing for a photo, and the court case, during which she gave testimony.
“I squirmed and lurched sideways to get away from him, but he wouldn’t let go,” she recalled.
“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.”
“It was important to report the incident to his radio station because I felt like they needed to know.”
Many don’t realise that Taylor didn’t take David to court initially. She reported the incident to his employer, which resulted in him being fired. Two years later he filed a defamation lawsuit against her.
Swift counter-sued, and when she won asked only for $1 as a symbolic gesture – which she told the magazine she has still not received.
“Going to court to confront this type of behaviour is a lonely and draining experience, even when you win, even when you have the financial ability to defend yourself,” Swift said.
She recounted the toll the courtroom process took on her and her family.
“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.
“My mum 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. In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened.
“This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite?”
The 27-year-old voiced her disappointment at the victim-blaming that happens to sexual assault victims.
“You could be blamed for the fact that it happened, for reporting it and blamed for how you reacted. 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. You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.”
The other women on the iconic Time cover are Ashley Judd, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, lobbyist Adama Iwu, and Isabel Pascual, a US immigrant from Mexico who had her name changed for privacy, and the arm of an anonymous woman who represents the many victims who don’t feel comfortable or safe speaking out.