Taylor Swift was one of several people collectively named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine, not for releasing a multi-platinum album or her tear-inducing performance on The Tonight Show, but because she’s one of the “Silence Breakers,” the brave men and women who started a “revolution of refusal.”
Time spoke to dozens of people, “all of whom had summoned extraordinary personal courage to speak out about sexual harassment at their jobs,” including Swift. The “Gorgeous” singer went to court against David Mueller, a DJ who “[stuck] his hand under my skirt and [grabbed] my ass,” in Swift’s words.
Mueller was fired, but he sued Swift for defamation; she countersued for $1, and won. “She’s just trying to tell people out there that you can say no when someone puts their hand on you,” her attorney said. “Grabbing a woman’s rear end is an assault, and it’s always wrong. Any woman — rich, poor, famous, or not — is entitled to have that not happen.” Swift told Time that she came forward with what happened to her because “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.”
Swift, who was informed that her testimony set the record for the most amount of times the word “ass” was said in Colorado Federal Court, also gave advice to anyone who’s been (or is going) through what Mueller did to her. “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,” she said. “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.”
She added, “When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1. To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.”