Fans at the Tampa, Florida, stop of Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour knew they were in for the expected pyrotechnics and maybe even snakes, but the singer took everybody by surprise when she reflected on the one-year anniversary of her sexual assault trial in a moving mid-concert speech.
Last August, Swift was awarded a symbolic $1 after countersuing Denver radio host David Mueller who brought a $3 million suit against the singer for defamation. Mueller was fired from his radio job after Swift said he groped her during a 2013 meet-and-greet in a room full of people when she was just 23 years old. Tuesday marks the anniversary of the day the jury agreed with her version of the incident.
“A year ago I was not playing in a stadium in Tampa. I was in a courtroom in Denver, Colorado,” a teary Swift, seated at a piano, told the stadium crowd on Tuesday night. “This is the day the jury sided in my favor and said that they believed me.”
“I guess I just think about all the people that weren’t believed and the people who haven’t been believed, and the people who are afraid to speak up because they think they won’t be believed,” she continued.
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry to anyone who ever wasn’t believed because I don’t know what turn my life would have taken if somebody didn’t believe me when I said something had happened to me,” she added.
Swift, who’s taken a less-is-more approach to press during her new album cycle, hasn’t given a traditional interview about the two-year trial process but did detail her experience in writing to Time magazine when she was one of the “Silence Breakers” honored as Person of the Year in 2017.
The “Look What You Made Me Do” singer described her days in court as “demoralizing” and was widely praised for her defiant responses during the trial, which she said she heard was the “most amount of times the word ‘ass’ has ever been said in Colorado federal court.”
On stage on Tuesday night, the Grammy winner declared that “we have so much further to go” when it comes to believing victims of sexual assault and harassment and thanked fans for standing by her during “really a horrible part of my life.”
“I know when I meet you guys at meet-and-greets and after the shows, you guys tell me about the hard times that you’ve gone through in your lives, and I really appreciate you trusting me with that information,” Swift said. “And you know you guys have seen me go through so many ups and downs in my life just due to the public nature of the way my life is, and I just wanted to say that I’m so happy to see you and to have you and know you through the ups and the downs in my life.”
“Sorry, I just haven’t really talked about it, and so I’m just not composed at all,” she concluded before launching back into the music.
Many Swifties ― as fans have dubbed themselves ― had, in fact, been aware of the anniversary of the trial and came to the concert wielding their own dollar bills to signal their support for the singer.
After the trial verdict, multiple organizations working with victims of sexual assault and harassment noted an increase in communication from people seeking help, ABC News reported at the time.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network said its hotline experienced a 35 percent bump in the days after the trial, praising Swift’s victory as “a great demonstration to other victims that there is strength in coming forward and pursuing justice.”
Swift has since made donations to a host of organizations standing with survivors, including RAINN and the Joyful Heart Foundation.