TIME/Photography by Billy and Hells for TIMETaylor Swift has landed on TIME magazine’s annual Person of the Year cover for 2017 as part of a group of women and men called “The Silence Breakers”: those who spoke out about sexual harassment and assault.
In August, before the allegations about Harvey Weinstein were made public, Taylor was in a Denver courtroom testifying in her legal battle with David Mueller, the deejay who grabbed her butt in 2013 at a pre-show meet and greet. After she reported his behavior, he was fired, and two years later, he sued her for millions. Taylor won the case, and Mueller was ordered to pay her a symbolic one dollar.
“Going to court to confront this type of behavior is a lonely and draining experience, even when you win,” Taylor tells TIME, adding, “To this day he has not paid me that dollar, and I think that act of defiance is symbolic in itself.”
Taylor was defiant during her testimony, telling Mueller’s lawyer, “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault.” She tells TIME, “I was angry…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…why should I be polite?” she notes, adding, “I’m told it was the most amount of times the word ‘a**’ has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.”
Asked what advice she’d give her fans, Taylor tells TIME, “Do not accept the blame others will try to place on you. You should not be blamed for waiting 15 minutes or 15 days or 15 years to report sexual assault or harassment, or for the outcome of what happens to a person after he or she makes the choice to sexually harass or assault you.”
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