Taylor Swift, photographed Nov. In , the singer-songwriter took a photo with a Colorado radio DJ after an interview. Swift privately reported the incident to the station at which Mueller worked, and he was fired. Swift refused to be bullied on the stand. Her straightforward testimony was lauded by many for its fierceness. Her clear-eyed testimony marked one of several major milestones in the conversation around sexual harassment this year.
Swift responded to questions about her experience from TIME in writing. Why was it important for you to come forward about what happened to you? In , I met a DJ from a prominent country radio station in one of my pre-show meet and greets. When we were posing for the photo, he stuck his hand up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek. 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. The radio station conducted its own investigation and fired him. Two years later, he sued me. How did you feel when you testified? 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.
In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. The details were all skewed, as they often are. Most people thought I was suing him.
There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when I was named as the defendant. Once it hit the news that I was in Denver dealing with this, there was an outpouring of support on social media and I have never appreciated it more. I spoke to Kesha on the phone and it really helped to talk to someone who had been through the demoralizing court process. After this experience, what advice would you give to your fans? I would tell people who find themselves in this situation that there is a great deal of blame placed on the victims in cases of sexual harassment and assault.
You could be blamed for the fact that it happened, for reporting it and blamed for how you reacted. 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. Is this a watershed moment for the way we think about sexual assault and harassment in culture? 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.
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.
To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself. This interview has been edited and condensed.