Trigger Warning – Sexual assault/rape/PTSD
Recently, British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan commented on recent statement’s made by Lady Gaga. One week ago, Lady Gaga visited the Ali Forney Center in Harlem. The center gives housing to homeless LGBTQ Youth. While talking to the young adults, she opened up to them about her experience with trauma after being sexual assaulted and revealed that she struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Lady Gaga led a meditation and spoke about the ways that she works to cope with her mental illness.
A few days later, Morgan took to Twitter to give his thoughts to Lady Gaga’s words while also bringing Madonna’s experience with trauma into the mix, claiming that Lady Gaga’s choice to disclose her struggle with PTSD was a publicity ploy to go along with the recent release of her album Joanne. He states, in regards to non-veterans having PTSD:
“No, soldiers returning from battlefields do. Enough of this vain-glorious nonsense. I come from a big military family. It angers me when celebrities start claiming ‘PTSD’ about everything to promote themselves. Lady Gaga & Madonna have both made ALLEGATIONS of rape many years after the event. No police complaint, no charges, no court case.”
Lady Gaga, classily, and respectfully responded to Morgan stating:
“I’ve work w/ our VP Joe Biden on helping educate people about why women don’t report, would love to share it w/ you some time. would also love to talk with you about PTSD, that it’s not just a “military” disorder. There is a mental health youth epidemic. if anyone in your family suffers from it, I pray they have more good days than bad. It has affected me & my whole family.”
To Piers Morgan,
Tonight, my immediate reaction upon reading your comments was to scream in a fury and my second was to feel helpless and discouraged at this horrific display of rape culture, ignorance, and misogyny. Reading that you responded to one Twitter user saying that you were “ignoring the fact Gaga has PTSD because she was raped” felt like a punch in the gut. Then, I recalled Lady Gaga singing at the Academy Awards and being joined onstage by 50 sexual assault survivors who bore words like, “Survivor” and “it happened to me” on their forearms. Lady Gaga sits at a white piano, the curtain rises, and 50 figures standing strong and brave confidently walk forward holding hands. My heart swells with pride when I think of those survivors and their courage and bravery.
I see the same bravery mirrored in the eyes of the many women I have met in my time in mental health treatment who struggle with PTSD. These women have been molested, raped, harassed, beaten, abused, and more and they are brave beyond measure. Yet, they have overcome addiction, eating disorders, depression, self harm, and more. They are some of the strongest women I will ever know. I, also, see that bravery staring back at me in the mirror through my tear streaked face as I battle my demons day after day. I see it as I sit in my therapist’s office for the thousandth time as she promises me that my trauma is valid and that my PTSD was caused solely by a boy who never learned the definition of respect.
You offered to have Lady Gaga educate you, but let me give her a hand.
You mentioned that soldiers returning from war are the ones who suffer from PTSD. Mr. Morgan, I wonder if you are aware of the fact that the US Department of Veterans Affairs stated, “In this study, 45% of the women who reported having experienced a rape met criteria for PTSD. This was significantly higher than the 38.8% rate of PTSD among men who had experienced combat.” It would be fair to assume that department knows a thing or two more about veterans than you do or perhaps during your time judging talent competitions you were actually fighting overseas? My bad. That must have been an excellent body double they got for all of those live shows. Props to the producers!
Additionally, PTSD goes much deeper than emotional stress. Trauma causes actual physiological changes to the brain. Viatcheslav Wlassoff, Ph.D. from Brain Blogger, gives information into the changes that occur within the hippocampus, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and amygdala:
“Extensive neuroimaging studies on the brains of PTSD patients show that several regions differ structurally and functionally from those of healthy individuals. The amygdala, the hippocampus, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex play a role in triggering the typical symptoms of PTSD. These regions collectively impact the stress response mechanism in humans, so the PTSD victim, even long after his experiences, continues to perceive and respond to stress differently than someone who is not suffering the aftermaths of trauma.”
PTSD is not an attention seeking label. It is damage/changes to the structure of your brain. Also, do you not think that Lady Gaga (and Madonna) could find much better ways to get attention? Their decisions to voice their traumas is infinitely more impressive and admirable than your attacks hidden behind the safety of a screen. That is cowardly, and it makes you look like a fool. I wish for you that one day you will become open to seeing that PTSD is multifaceted and that a little more empathy in our world leads to more progress in our abilities to coexist with one another.