Megan Thee Stallion has broken her silence about her July 12, 2020, shooting at the hands of one-time close friend Tory Lanez, who was found guilty of the attack in December. In a lengthy essay for Elle, the artist says she will no longer address the shooting in the media “for the sake of my mental health. I don’t plan to keep reliving the most traumatic experience of my life over and over again. I’m choosing to change the narrative because I’m more than just my trauma.”
During the trial, Megan Thee Stallion gave tearful testimony of the night she was shot by Lanez following an argument about their careers and relationships. She said Lanez told her to “dance” before firing at her from the passenger seat of his car, and that Lanez bribed her and another friend who witnessed the shooting $1 million dollars each in exchange for their silence.
“For years, my attacker laughed and joked about my trauma,” she wrote. “For years, my attacker peddled false narratives about what happened on the night of July 12, 2020. For years, my attacker tried to leverage social media to take away my power. Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day? Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle.
I could have let the adversity break me, but I persevered, even as people treated my trauma like a running joke,” she continued. “First, there were conspiracy theories that I was never shot. Then came the false narratives that my former best friend shot me. Even some of my peers in the music industry piled on with memes, jokes, and sneak disses, and completely ignored the fact that I could have lost my life. Instead of condemning any form of violence against a woman, these individuals tried to justify my attacker’s actions.”
At first, the artist tried to smile “through the pain,” but she eventually fell into depression. “I didn’t feel like making music,” she recalled. “I was in such a low place that I didn’t even know what I wanted to rap about. I wondered if people even cared anymore. There would be times that I’d literally be backstage or in my hotel, crying my eyes out, and then I’d have to pull Megan Pete together and be Megan Thee Stallion.”
Megan Thee Stallion felt vindicated by the guilty verdict against Lanez, but says her “heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help. So many times, people looked at me and thought, ‘You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.’ They assumed that, per preconceived stigmas, ‘I didn’t fit the profile of a victim,’ and that I didn’t need support or protection.
Time after time, women are bullied with backlash for speaking out against their attackers, especially when they’re accusing someone who is famous and wealthy,” she added. “They’re often accused of lying or attempting to make money from their trauma. From firsthand experience, I know why a lot of women don’t come forward. Any support and empathy that I received was drowned out by overwhelming doubt and criticism from so many others.”
The artist wrote that she’s “in a happier place” and is “playing around with new songs and new sounds that I can’t wait for everyone to hear,” but is also still dealing with anxiety. “Talking about being shot still makes me emotional,” she said. “I’ve started journaling as a way to better process my thoughts, hopes, and fears. Prayer has also played a therapeutic role in my healing, because I can have honest and unfiltered conversations with God without any judgment.”
In closing, Megan Thee Stallion wrote, “for anyone who has survived violence, please know your feelings are valid. You matter. You are not at fault. You are important. You are loved. You are not defined by your trauma. You can continue to write beautiful, new chapters to your life story. Just because you are in a bad situation doesn’t mean you are a bad person. Our value doesn’t come from the opinions of other people. As long as you stand your ground and live in your truth, nobody can take your power.”
A ruling is expected on May 8 on Lanez’ request for a new trial. If the motion is denied, he faces more than 20 years in prison for the shooting.