It’s been a difficult few years for Kesha. The “Tik Tok” singer has been embroiled in various legal disputes since 2014 with music producer Dr. Luke, whom she sued for sexual assault and emotional abuse. However, she’s finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Over the past couple of years I feel like I’ve become a woman in a lot of ways, because I’m kind of reclaiming my personal space, my body, my music, and my life,” Kesha said at SXSW. “With online, it’s important to reclaim that space too.”
The 30-year-old musician spoke at Refinery 29’s “Reclaiming the Internet” SXSW talk and opened up about her past eating disorder and how online bullying helped land her in rehab.
“I want to talk about it because I want to help people,” she said. “If you feel a certain way about yourself, your body — it can kill you. I almost died. I came very close, closer than I ever knew. By the time I entered rehab, they were surprised I hadn’t had a stroke, because I wasn’t consuming enough of anything.”
Kesha entered rehab at the beginning of 2014 for her eating disorder. Before she sought treatment, people continually complimented her on how well she looked.
“I was starving, and people used to say: ‘Wow, you look so great. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ And little did they know they were encouraging me to starve myself to death,” she revealed. “I’m not ashamed anymore. It’s emotional because it’s a deep-rooted disease. … It can really affect your self-worth.”
The pop star told the Austin, Texas, crowd that a turning point came when she began to ignore online abuse.
“Criticism used to tear me up inside,” she explained. “I was making trolls, I was making bullies, I was making people who I’d never met before who were projecting their insecurities onto me on the Internet — I was making them the truth. I was really sad.”
Kesha continued, “I use the Internet to connect to my fans, but aside from that, it’s not a healthy place for me. … I try to limit myself in terms of reading comments because there can be a million positive ones, but I always gravitate toward the one negative one. I hold onto that and I internalize it, and I know it’s an unhealthy habit. I’ve stopped reading comments.”
At the beginning of 2017, Kesha vowed to be “less obsessed” with the Internet in the hope that it would ease her anxiety and depression.
“When I first came out as an artist, I thought I had to be really tough. And I was really young, and I had no f***ing idea what I was doing,” Kesha said at SXSW. “I thought, to overcompensate, I had to act really tough and act like nothing affected me. I thought that was strength. I’ve since realized I’ve found a lot of strength in my vulnerabilities. A lot more people can relate to that.”
Kesha concluded, “I think the world should be a safe space. I think America should be a safe place. And I definitely think the Internet should be a safe place.”
As for Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald), Kesha’s courtroom showdowns with the music producer are not over, and they continue to battle over her abuse claims.
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