By Hayden Wright
TIME magazine’s Person of the Year 2017 are the “Silence Breakers,” women and men who have spoken out about sexual misconduct.
One of the women featured on this year’s cover is Taylor Swift, who triumphed in a legal battle against a former DJ she accused of groping her.
The cover also features actress Ashley Judd (an early Harvey Weinstein accuser) Susan Fowler (who exposed wrongdoing by Uber’s CEO), Adama Iwu (who spearheaded a campaign to raised awareness of sexual harassment in California state government) and Isabel Pascual (a farm worker, who shared her story of fear and intimidation).
Related: Jury Rules In Taylor Swift’s Favor
In her first interview since the trial, Swift discussed her decision to report the incident.
“At the time, I was headlining a major arena tour and there were a number of people in the room that saw this plus a photo of it happening,” she says. “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. 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.”
Swift was asked what advice she would give to her fans following the totality of the experience.
“My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you,” she 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.”
While the singer expressed her appreciation for the increased awareness of the issues, she acknowledges there are still many who are living in fear.
“I think that this moment is important for awareness, for how parents are talking to their children, and how victims are processing their trauma, whether it be new or old. 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,” she continued. “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. 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.”