For Time‘s new Person of the Year issue, Taylor Swift was among a group of celebrities and non-celebrities–dubbed “The Silence Breakers”–who were victims of alleged abuse and spoke out about their experiences this year. The pop star has not granted any interviews in the press cycle for her November album Reputation, and has been profiled or interviewed very little over the course of the past two years. In her Time interview, she spoke exclusively about her assault experience in 2013, when she said Colorado country radio DJ David Mueller groped her buttocks underneath her dress during a photo op. She then detailed her courtroom experience at this summer’s trial–the result of a defamation lawsuit Mueller filed in 2015, and an subsequent countersuit from Swift–in which Swift came out victorious.
Swift’s testimony during the trial was pointed and uncompromising (Swift notes in the interview that she was “told it was the most amount of times the word ‘ass’ has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.”) She explained that her more aggressive approach to cross-examination was influenced by her anger over her mother’s treatment on the stand earlier in the trial:
“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 mom 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?”
Later in the interview, Swift took issue with the media characterization of the lawsuit prior to the trial in August, claiming that most people didn’t seem to know who had lodged the complaint. “The details were all skewed, as they often are,” she said. “Most people thought I was suing him. There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when I was named as the defendant.”
Following the “demoralizing” trial experience, Swift said she spoke with Kesha, who was caught in legal hell after levying sexual assault charges against her former producer Dr. Luke. Swift also revealed that Mueller had not yet paid her the symbolic $1 settlement she won in the trial. “I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself,” she said.
Swift also gave her thoughts on the growing “awareness” about sexual assault in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, and the roadblocks of trauma and fearing of being blamed that continue to make it difficult for victims to come forward. From Time:
“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.”
Read the full interview at Time.