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Speaking Out: The $1 Taylor Swift Never Got From Her Court Case Is Symbolic of a Larger Issue

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When Taylor Swift took a photo with Colorado radio DJ David Mueller in 2013, she says he reached under her skirt and grabbed her behind. Naturally, Taylor reported the incident to the company the DJ worked at. He was fired and then went on to sue Taylor for defamation. In this year's TIME Person of Year issue, the publication recognized the Silence Breakers who have opened up about sexual harassment – which for many, was inspired by the #MeToo movement. Taylor is included in this bunch, as her story and bravery represents similar situations that happen to so many women around the world.

Taylor countersued and won the case, but the discussion is far from over. The singer-songwriter is now opening up about what it was like testifying in court. When the assault occurred, Taylor was headlining a major arena tour at the time and said that there were multiple other people in the room who saw. For her, it was necessary to report the groping incident. One, because it was flat out wrong – and two, because this could happen to someone else too.

"I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances and high stakes, imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance. It was important to report the incident to his radio station because I felt like they needed to know," Taylor said. "The radio station conducted its own investigation and fired him. Two years later, he sued me."

When Taylor went to court, she and those supporting her in the case (including her mother) were accused of lying. If one thing is for sure, Taylor was going to put up a fight until justice was served.

"I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite?" she explained. "I spent two years reading headlines referring to it as 'The Taylor Swift Butt Grab Case' with internet trolls making a joke about what happened to me. The details were all skewed, as they often are. Most people thought I was suing him."

If you are familiar with all of the hidden messages in Taylor's legendary "Look What You Made Me Do" music video, then you may know the significance of the single dollar bill floating in the bathtub of riches she sits in.

(Photo credit: YouTube, TaylorSwiftVEVO)


"When the jury found in my favor, the man who sexually assaulted me was court-ordered to give me a symbolic $1. To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself."

Once Taylor's interview came out about this, the Associated Press reported that David provided a letter showing that he sent Taylor a Sacagawea coin last week. However, Taylor's interview was most likely done before last week – so who knows, maybe she'll receive it soon.

"I mean if this is all about women’s rights. … It’s a little poke at them, a little bit,” he said. "I mean, I think they made this into a publicity stunt, and this is my life."

Hold. Up. What was that? Taylor explained that even when you have the money to defend yourself in court – or even if you win – dealing with sexual assault is draining and lonely. And while speaking up is a step in the right direction, this cannot be tolerated.

"Even though awareness is higher than ever about workplace sexual harassment, there are still so many people who feel victimized, afraid and silenced by their abusers and circumstances," she said.

This post was originally published on December 6, 2017 and since has been updated.

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