“I wrote this for myself. Cause I was in a really sad, lonely, dark place … I remember sitting on the floor, not knowing what to do with all my emotions, and the only thing I knew what to do was write a song. And this song was like a promise letter to myself that we were gonna make it.” – Kesha
Most people do not know Kesha personally but fans have stood beside her throughout her career and legal battle with music producer Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald (a.k.a. Dr. Luke). Behind the stage name of Kesha, Kesha Rose Sebert’s personal life has been displayed across the media, showcasing a very dark and distressing time for the singer.
After years of legal battles and a counter suit beginning in 2014, Kesha dropped her case against Dr. Luke et al., to be able to continue to make music for her fans and for herself.
For over a decade, Kesha claimed Dr. Luke abused her sexually, physically and psychologically. Kesha’s unrelenting abuse lead to drugging and rape, physical violence and intimidation. These experiences put Kesha in bind which impacted her musical passion and threatened her life. All the while, Dr. Luke benefitted from professional power and prestige which protected him from receiving justice.
According to Kesha’s complaint: “Dr. Luke’s business entities took no action against him, engaged in efforts to cover up his conduct and continued to have business relationships with him despite knowing of his despicable conduct.”
While fitting the profile of an abuser, Dr. Luke stopped at nothing to intimidate Kesha; threatening at one point to destroy her career, her life and the lives of those she loves. He was repeatedly protected by the recording label and businesses which refused to take action.
Kesha’s experience echoes the reality many survivors of workplace abuse face: employers often protect offenders even when they know abuse occurs. Rather than management upholding their obligation to create a safe work environment, many survivors would rather leave their employment than stay where their complaints are ignored.
Moreover, Kesha’s case reflects that many survivors of sexual assault do not receive the legal recourse they seek or rightfully deserve.
The U.S. Department of Justice reports that as little as 30% of sexual assault survivors report their assault to authorities and even fewer take their assault to trial. The National Sexual Assault Hotline also reports that for every 1,000 rapes, 994 assailants walk free. Only 57 in 1,000 rape reports lead to an arrest and of those arrests, a meager six will produce felony convictions.
Many survivors shy away from legal recourse due to financial cost, intimidation from their assailants, stigma attached to their assault and the personal vilification a court case might force the survivor to face. And while not every circumstance is ripe for litigation; survivors risk their livelihoods and personal safety when pursuing justice.
Although the connections between sexual violence and workplace are understudied, a report from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reveals that in one study, as many as 50% of survivors of rape lost or quit their job in the year following their rape because of the severity of their reactions. These survivors carry with them the burden of healing from their trauma with the added stress of economic instability.
Kesha’s case reveals the stark realities of sexual assault and workplace abuse for survivors. Like many before her who have come out about their ordeals, it takes great bravery because the path to justice is rarely pleasant.
As said in her VMA introduction to Logics “1-800-273-8255” performance this year, “it takes great courage to show the vulnerable side to being human,” and we have undoubtedly seen Kesha’s vulnerable side over the past few years. So why is Kesha’s new album so important?
Kesha’s new album, with its range of anthems, lyrics and totality, reflects her own personal and spiritual growth from 2014 and is also so relatable to individuals who have experienced forms of trauma and sexual assault.
Of rape survivors, nearly half were raped before the age of eighteen. Kesha’s audience is largely comprised of young adults who can find parallels of their experiences in her new album. She faces her traumatic experiences in a raw, honest and powerful way through insightful lyrics which speak directly to her fans.
From her international hit “Praying” to her ballad “Bastards,” “Rainbow” is not necessarily about letting go but finding inner peace and embracing your experiences. Even though Kesha’s case against Dr. Luke did not have the ending she was hoping for, she clearly expresses in her song “Learn to Let Go,” you cannot let others rob you of that happy ending, the happy ending is up to you.
For more information about sexual assault please see the links below:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Written by Valerie Landowski and Kirsten Kreger of www.myfinalsay.org