This is what Lady GaGa and Joe Biden want you to know about sexual assault

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Megan Murray
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Lady Gaga and former Vice President Joe Biden have come together to share a powerful message as part of sexual assault prevention campaign, It’s On Us.

The pair took to GaGa’s Instagram to voice their support of the White House initiative, which implores all of us to join the fight against sexual assault and harassment.

Sitting next to the musician, Biden introduces his friend, looking straight to the camera and saying, “Lady Gaga has been a voice for people who have been forgotten and have been abused. It happened to her and she has shown enormous courage.”

The politician, who wrote the country’s 1994 Violence Against Women Act and has been committed to raising awareness about sexual assaults on US college campuses, went on to explain the need for everyone in the community to take ownership of the intervention and education of crimes of a sexual nature.

Biden continued: “We want to make it real clear, it’s on us. It’s on everyone to intervene, to stop abuse when they see it and when they hear about it. No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman for any reason other than self-defense, period.”

The renewed focus on the campaign is timely given the slew of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile men in positions of power.

It’s On Us was launched in September 2014 after being backed by The White House and works to educate, engage and empower students and communities across the US to participate in ending sexual assault.

Sexual assault is a crime that is predominantly committed against women, with 1 in 5 having experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. 

However, emphasising that this is an issue that can affect anyone, GaGa adds in the video: “That’s not to leave out the men as well.”

The singer bravely opens up about being targeted personally, before describing what the aftermath can feel like: “I am a sexual assault survivor and I know the effects, the aftermath; the psychological, the physical, mental.

“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, that they can help you, that they will listen.”

The campaign describes itself as a cultural movement, aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault to break down the isolation that so many victims feel, and at increasing the support available.

This isn’t the first time Biden and GaGa have stepped into the limelight to talk about the campaign, having both appeared on stage at last year’s Oscars, where the singer performed her song, ‘Til It Happens To You, and welcomed survivors of sexual assault on stage to join her.

Biden introduced the number, saying to the crowd, “We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man like the survivors that you see tonight will have to ask themselves, ‘What did I do?’ They did nothing wrong.”

Actors Zoe Saldana, Nina Dobrev and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson have also lent their support to the campaign, sporting logo printed t-shirts and taking to social media.

Lady GaGa
Lady GaGa standing with survivors of sexual assault and abuse at the Oscars last year

More than 50 women have now come forward with reports of alleged sexual harassment and abuse by Weinstein, with some dating back almost 30 years.

Furthermore, this week fashion magazines and brands such as Vogue and Valentino have announced that they will no longer be working with photographer Terry Richardson, after rumours about his inappropriate sexual behaviour during photo shoots and claims that he previously pressured models into performing sexual acts on him.

With what seems like constant reports, these can feel like depressing and scary times but it’s a step toward ending the silence and misplaced guilt around assault and harassment.

As the NHS says, sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. This includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth), or other sexual offences, such as groping or forced kissing.

Sexual harassment also covers any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favours, whether it be physical or verbal.

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, assault or harassment speak to someone you trust, or contact a charity such as Refuge for support and information. 

Images: Rex Features / Getty