“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). For the past four years, Kesha Rose Sebert's personal struggle to free herself from an abusive personal and work relationship with Dr. Luke have been splashed across media, showcasing a very dark time for the singer.
After years of legal battles and a counter suit beginning in 2014, Kesha recently dropped her case against Dr. Luke et al., to be able to continue to make music for her fans and for herself. In an effort to return to the musical world she loves, Kesha took a courageous step to drop the suit she had been fighting for years.
Kesha claimed that for over a decade Dr. Luke abused her sexually, physically and psychologically. Kesha’s unrelenting abuse lead to drugging and rape, physical violence and intimidation. In several occasions, Kesha feared for her life. In a murky employment relationship turned deeply personal, Kesha had signed a recording deal requiring her to record music under the management of Dr. Luke. Dr. Luke used an oppressive legal contract to hold Kesha in a bind. If she wanted to record music she was required to do it under his management thus continuing her abusive relationship with Dr. Luke. All the while, Dr. Luke benefited from professional power and prestige which protected him from repercussions.
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.”
Dr. Luke fits the profile of an abuser. According to the complaint, he stopped at nothing to intimidate Kesha; threatening 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 abuse echos the reality which 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. In some extreme cases, survivors who step forward to address workplace harassment can be further abused at the hands of management and Human Resources departments which are loyal to abusers over the abused.
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 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. However, if the public knows anything about Kesha, it is that she's unafraid to be herself and she won't shy away from showing the public who she is; hiding from difficulty isn't in her repertoire.
Kesha stole our hearts again at the 2017 VMA's when she introduced Logic's "1-800-273-8255" which has recently become an anthem for survivors and those contemplating suicide or self-harm. She declared passionately that “it takes great courage to show the vulnerable side to being human." Amid the publicity surrounding the end of her legal battles and release of her new album, Kesha was the perfect woman to deliver the message that life has dark times but to keep holding on.
Kesha’s new album "Rainbow", reflects her personal and spiritual growth since her legal battles began. Her album is relatable, raw at times and upbeat to remind us that life continues on in spite of difficulty. Even though her newly released album was created under the management of Dr. Luke, Kesha wasn't afraid to speak powerfully about her experiences. This reminds us that personal healing is vital and self-liberation must come first because in some cases, that is the only justice you can receive; the type you create yourself.
Kesha's relatablility gives her music a powerful edge. She has spoken widely about being being bullied, bright and challenging norms. She struggled with eating disorders, was raised by a single-parent and experienced poverty as a child. She has overcome tremendous adversity in her life but in true Kesha-style, she has created music to uplift and carry our own sorrows away.
From her international hit “Praying” to her ballad “Bastards,” “Rainbow” sings about finding inner peace and embracing your experiences: the good and bad, messy and exhilarating. Even though Kesha’s case against Dr. Luke was a legal setback, her record-breaking sales would tell you otherwise. The music community erupted with support for Kesha. Her fans stood devotedly beside her for years. She's moved us to tears and given us anthems to reminds us there is a rainbow on our horizons. In her hit, “Learn to Let Go,” she declares that 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