Jade Roper, of The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise fame, revealed her own sexual assault in a heart-wrenching blog post Monday, writing that Gaga's performance of "Til It Happens To You" with other survivors motivated her to speak out.
"As I am writing this, my heart is beating fast, hard against my chest, almost irregularly," Roper wrote. "I've only shared my story with but a few, not even my family knows. But when I saw GaGa fill the whole room with emotion as she sang with conviction and urgency, as I saw survivors of sexual assault bravely stand up there showing the world that what happened to them does matter, tears streamed down my face."
Roper said that she was at a high school party when she was 16, nearly 17, with a group of friends when she was assaulted. Roper's friends had left her alone with some boys they knew.
"I'm not going to go into detail, but I remember it getting late and I needed to be home for my curfew," she wrote. "I remember one guy holding me down while another got on top of me. I remember them driving me home and my parents were gone, driving around town looking for me. When my parents got home, my dad said he found me in my room on the floor in my underwear, mumbling to him I wasn't innocent anymore. I was a virgin."
Roper, after waking up bruised and finding her jeans covered with "blood spots," contacted her assailants but they "denied anything happened." Too scared to tell her parents or the authorities, Roper instead became "depressed, anxious, and self loathing."
"I was afraid of what they would think of me – or worse, that they wouldn't care at all," she explained, adding, "I convinced myself I must have deserved it. That this bad thing happened to me because of something I had done."
She said, "All the hurt and the anger I had towards the boys that assaulted me, I took out on myself. I destroyed myself with harmful words and internalized all my emotions."
Roper, who recently wed fellow Bachelor in Paradise alum Tanner Tolbert, said it's been a "long road to healing" and noted that she still has a ways to go but hopes that sharing her story helps others.
"I am not chained to this experience, it doesn't have to control my life," she wrote. "I am unafraid of the feedback anymore. This happened to me and it matters. I matter. And I am worthy of love."
The 29-year-old added, "I hope that sharing my experience will help girls and women know that they are not alone. And that you have to voice things in order for things to change. And always, always, always: you matter."
Posting a photo from the Oscars telecast to Instagram, Roper said she spent hours "typing and back spacing" her story, which she was "terrified" to share.
Gaga responded to Roper's story, writing on Twitter, "@jadelizroper you are a warrior thank you #TilItHappensToYou
.@ladygaga thank you. And thank you for inspiring me to take a big step in my healing by giving me courage to share my story. Much love.— Jade Tolbert (@jadelizroper) February 29, 2016
"@ladygaga thank you," Roper responded. "And thank you for inspiring me to take a big step in my healing by giving me courage to share my story. Much love."
Gaga's song, from the college campus rape documentary The Haunting Ground, was nominated for Best Original Song on Sunday. The survivors featured in the film, as well as others who had previously never spoken out about their assault, joined the singer on stage.