Taylor Swift has had a big year.
There was “Look What You Made Me Do” followed by what many would say was her comeback album, Reputation.
But before the music, the performances and the subsequent lyrical analyses, there was something else happening in Taylor Swift’s life this over the course of the year 2017.
In August of 2017, Taylor Swift stood trial against a man who claimed that her allegations of sexual assault were the reason he had been fired from his job. Denver DJ David Mueller allegedly grabbed Swift’s bare butt under her skirt and refused to let go during a meet and greet. After Swift complained, Mueller was fired, but he then retaliated and sued Swift for damages, asking for millions of dollars in retribution. In reply, Swift countersued but only asked for a single dollar.
What happened in the courtroom made headlines for weeks, but one of the mot profound moments was Swift’s strong testimony against Mueller. Swift refused to let his attorney place any blame on her, taking an incredible and empowering stance as she spoke in court.
In the end, Taylor Swift won. Though her publicist provided fans with a statement from Swift, she has remained mostly silent for the year. As TIME named her one of its people of the year, calling her one of the “Silence Breakers” changing the course of history in regards to sexual harassment and assault, Swift is finally opening up and giving more details about what she went through during that legal battle.
In the end, her motivation in getting justice was to protect those with even less pull or power in the industry.
“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 said. “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.”
The fiery testimony, she said, came from frustration, particularly with Mueller’s lawyer’s treatment of her mother.
“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? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word “ass” has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.”
Mueller has yet to pay the court-ordered $1, which Swift told TIME speaks to his character. Her advice for victims of sexual assault and harassment, on the other hand, is priceless.
“My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you,” Swift said. “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.”
Swift’s loyal fans were eager to point out the importance of her role in this year’s watershed moment of reckoning in regards to sexual assault and harassment, responding strongly to any backlash or protests on Twitter.
— Sara Clevenger (@SaraClevenger) December 6, 2017
It was a big year for Taylor Swift. She broke her silence in more ways than one and for that, we applaud her.