Megan Thee Stallion opened up about experiencing gun violence firsthand, the online harassment she faced as a result, and the lasting trauma that the shooting and its aftermath caused her in a new essay for Elle magazine published on Tuesday. The 28-year-old rapper used her personal experience to call attention to the ways race complicates victimhood, advocating for better protection for Black women who share stories of abuse or violence.
Megan Thee Stallion was shot by rapper Tory Lanez, who she had previously been close with, in 2020. In the essay, she wrote that he used social media to create doubt about what really happened in the years that followed the incident. “Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day? Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle,” she wrote. (In December, a jury found Lanez guilty on three felony counts. Last month, Lanez requested a new trial, and his attorneys have indicated he may appeal the December verdict if this request isn’t granted.)
Megan Thee Stallion explained that the trial illuminated how excruciating it can be for people who have experienced violence to come forward. “My heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help,” she wrote, adding that she wasn’t often met with empathy after speaking up about what she lived through. “So many times, people looked at me and thought, ‘You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.’” This backwards thought process, she continued, meant people often failed to offer her “support or protection.”
This isn’t the first time Megan Thee Stallion has spoken out about what happened to her and shed light on the challenges that Black women face when they call attention to assault or violence. In a 2020 opinion piece for The New York Times, she wrote: “I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man…The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.”
According to data from the Center for American Progress, Black women are twice as likely as white women to be shot and killed by an intimate partner, and more than 50% of homicides of women that involve a firearm are directed at Black women.
Megan Thee Stallion said that journaling, praying, and taking a months-long break from social media have helped her regain some sense of normalcy. “The physical and mental scars from this entire ordeal will always sting, but I’m taking the appropriate steps to resume my life,” she wrote. She called for more action to ensure that future victims of abuse don’t have to go through what she did. “We must provide stronger resources for women to recover from these tragedies physically and emotionally,” she said. “We must do more than say her name.”
If you or someone you love is in a crisis, you can get support by calling 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line.