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She’s sold millions of albums and heard stadiums full of fans chant her lyrics at sold-out concerts around the world. But the Taylor Swift line that might resonate the loudest now is “He grabbed my bare ass.”
Ms. Swift, the pop superstar, made that comment in a federal courtroom in Denver last week, as part of her testimony against David Mueller, a former radio host who sued her, claiming she falsely accused him of groping her during a backstage photo opportunity in 2013. Ms. Swift countersued for assault and battery.
Her confident and blunt testimony swayed the jury — on Monday, she won her case, and Mr. Mueller lost his — and was shared widely across social media, where her responses were hailed as powerful. “I’m not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” she testified while being questioned by Mr. Mueller’s lawyer, who argued that his client lost his job as a result of the incident. “Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions — not mine.”
Among those paying attention to the trial: lawyers and others who work with sexual assault survivors, who found in Ms. Swift’s moment on the stand a potent public example of how to persevere in a fraught situation, and perhaps a way to shift the national conversation around sexual assault.
“Experiencing harassment is an all-too-common thing, experiencing blaming and shaming is an all-too-common thing, but seeing someone so effectively dismantle those arguments, that was exciting,” said Fatima Goss Graves, the president and chief executive of the National Women’s Law Center.
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Laura Dunn, the founder of SurvJustice, a nonprofit that works with survivors of sexual violence, said she was “deeply thankful” for Ms. Swift’s testimony and shared it with others considering testifying. “She was strong and poised and unapologetic,” she said.
As a headline-making case, this was, for many survivors of sexual assault, a high-wattage mirror of their own experiences, and an illustration of what might happen at their own court dates.