In October of 2014, the pop singer Kesha filed suit against her producer Dr. Luke, saying that he had “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused” her for more than decade and that he would often force her to take drugs and alcohol to make her a more susceptible victim.
Kesha, however, is under contract with Dr. Luke and Sony Records – and as a result, is currently prohibited from recording with any other producers or songwriters while her suit against Dr. Luke is ongoing.
This week, however, Kesha took a bold step forward, asking a judge to let her out of her contract to record with other producers and songwriters outside of the restrictions of her Sony contact. Failure to do so, she said in court documents, will shutter the career already significantly stalled as a result of the abuse from Dr. Luke, the treatment she has sought, and her inability to record, tour, or promote her music for over a year.
As her attorneys stated in this week’s filings, “Kesha now faces an abysmal decision: Work with her alleged abuser…or idly and passively wait as her career tick-tocks away.”
And as Kesha herself wrote in a statement to the court, “"I know I cannot work with Dr. Luke. I physically cannot. I don’t feel safe in any way.“
Speaking to Rolling Stone last year, Kesha said that Dr. Luke not only had abused her, but also asserted full creative control over her career, restricting her ability to control her own image.
"I’d like to show the world other sides of my personality. I don’t want to just continue putting out the same song and becoming a parody of myself,” she told the magazine last October.
In January of 2014, the singer entered rehab for treatment for an eating disorder – one which she claims was aggravated by the abuse she suffered at Dr. Luke’s hands.
Kesha has said in court documents that Dr. Luke told her she was “not that pretty” and a “fat fucking refrigerator.”
It is well documented by experts that those who have suffered from sexual abuse are at greater risk for negative health behaviors, including eating disorders – especially when their allegations are met with disbelief by those close to them. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual violence can have an effect on a survivor’s perceived body image and some survivors may use food in an attempt to cope with the trauma of their experience and their feelings of loss of control over their lives.
Related: The Sad Truth About Marital Rape
And while a judge has yet to rule in either of Kesha’s suits before the court, and Dr. Luke still remains only her alleged abuser, it is important to remember in all cases of sexual assault that the kind of force used in sexual assault – whether in rape or other forms of abuse – is not always physical, but frequently emotional and psychological.
Threats of violence against the victim in their family are also common – something else that Kesha has alleged Dr. Luke did to her and her family.
It is estimated that 80 percent of victims of sexual assault are under the age of 30, like Kesha, and that 4 out of 5 assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
According to the Justice Department, an average of 68 percent of rapes in the past five year were unreported and it is estimated that only 2 out of every 100 rapists will ever spend a single day in prison.
Why? Just look at Kesha’s case.
The realities of the effects of sexual assault and abuse are real, impacting individuals’ physical and psychological well-being. Their allegations are often met with doubt. The ramifications of their abuse often put their livelihoods at risk.
As Universal Music Group Distribution CEO Jim Urie in a statement to the court, “If Kesha is not permitted to resume working immediately with the backing of a major record label, her window [of opportunity for her career] will forever close.”
And surely an alleged victim of abuse brave enough to confront her abuser deserves better than that.
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