In 2016, Lady Gaga gave an incredibly powerful performance of "Till It Happens to You" at the Academy Awards. The song was co-written by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren — who are both sexual assault survivors — and appeared in The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses. Lady Gaga was joined onstage by 50 female and male survivors of sexual assault. During the performance, they extended their arms to reveal messages written on them, such as "not your fault," and "survivor." The performance received a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
"I am one of the 50 survivors who stood onstage with Lady Gaga at the 2016 Oscars," California-based illustrator Jacqueline Lin wrote on her website. "During our first rehearsal for the Oscars performance, the 50 survivors and Lady Gaga made a pact to get a tattoo. As the designer, I created this original work of art to serve as the design for our tattoo."
Gaga, Lin, and the other survivors, got what they've named the Fire Rose Unity Survivor tattoo permanently inked on their bodies. The tattoos are meant to help survivors feel united, and reclaim their bodies after their assault.
"The tattoo was made for, and dedicated to, survivors. It is a unity symbol inspired by the loops of our DNA structure and our universal infinity sign. It combines inspiration from Lady Gaga's favorite flower, the white rose, to breathe life into an organic and growing symbol. The final image embraces a fiery shape to give us power and strength everywhere we go," Lin wrote. "We love that many of you have been asking for the same tattoo, and we are so happy to release the original design for you!"
Thanks to the viral #MeToo campaign, many other sexual assault survivors have publicly opened up about their experiences and used their platforms to tell other survivors that they're not alone. In the wake of the sexual assault and harassment allegations that have hit Hollywood in recent weeks, the campaign encouraged everyday people to also come forward with their own personal stories.
Lady Gaga also tweeted #MeToo and spoke up about her experience in a video with former Vice President Joe Biden. "I am a sexual assault survivor, and I know the effects, the aftermath, the trauma — psychological, physical, mental," she said. "It can be terrifying, waking up every day feeling unsafe in your own body. But we're here to remind you that it's important to reach out to someone in your life that you can trust, and to know that they will be there to help you. There will be someone to listen."
Now more than ever, sexual assault survivors are uniting together and reminding each other that they're strong, powerful, and not alone in the fight toward justice. And, with Gaga championing the fight against sexual assault, it's no surprise survivors are looking to her. Many have chosen to get a matching Fire Rose Unity Survivor tattoo to show solidarity and strength.
The tattoo design may have been first created before last year's Oscars, but it has a lasting effect on the lives of so many who share the same experiences as the men and women up on that stage in 2016. Sexual harassment and abuse is clearly a rampant problem that affects both men and women of all ages. While it's devastating to see how many people have been victims to sexual assault, it's been beautiful to watch people come together to in the face of violence. Together, we can make a positive impact to help prevent sexual harassment and assault.
The tattoo is a reminder that this is a cause worth fighting for, no matter how long it takes.
To learn more about how you can take an active role in preventing sexual assault, visit RAINN.org.
If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE or 800-656-4673.