Photo courtesy of eonline.com
In 2014 it was revealed that Kesha Rose Sebert, more commonly known as pop artist Ke$ha, had been sexually abused by her music producer, Lukasz Gottwald or Dr. Luke, for nearly a decade when she filed a lawsuit against him asking to get out of her contract with him and more broadly, Sony. Kesha stated that he had drugged her as well as physically and sexually abused her since she had first signed a contract with him in 2005, and that this continual abuse had led to the development of an eating disorder.
Now, in 2016, Kesha broke down crying in the courtroom when she was denied release from her contract with Sony. The decision was made February 19, when New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied her request for a preliminary injunction, meaning Kesha would be unable to record music outside her contract until the case was finalized. This does not necessarily mean Kesha will be trapped in her contract for good, but it was nonetheless a huge blow for not only Kesha but for abuse victims everywhere, as the ruling sends a message that a victim’s word was not enough “evidence” or “reason” to be free from their abuser.
Kesha’s contract has her producing her next six albums with Dr. Luke, and the idea that she would still have to work with the man who had abused her for so long is horrific. Kesha’s word should not have to be validated by a man or a cooperation for it to have any weight.
Kornreich told Kesha that her claims of abuse were not substantial enough, as though there was a way to “prove” abuse that had been occurring for the past ten years. How does a victim provide “evidence” of prolonged emotional abuse and the obvious damage that would cause? And more importantly, why isn’t a victim’s word be enough to be taken seriously?
I personally cannot imagine the courage it must take to come forward about your abuse, particularly given how unfairly victims are treated whenever their story becomes public. To then be told that your own insistence of abuse isn’t enough reason to distance yourself from your abuser is awful.
It is incredibly difficult to stand up to an abuser, and Kesha should not be punished for failing to “document” her abuse for the last decade.
The hashtag #FreeKesha has been created as fans and musical colleagues alike express their outrage over the decision. Fellow artists including Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Ariana Grande, and Kelly Clarkson, who has previously worked with Dr. Luke, have shown their support on Twitter. Taylor Swift has donated $250,000 in support of Kesha after the ruling, and a GoFundMe has even been launched to try to buy Kesha’s contract from Sony.
There are claims by the judge and by Sony that Kesha’s “judgement isn’t sound” and that it would be very complicated to get out of a contract that is “heavily negotiated and typical for the industry.” Why then, was Zayn Malik able to get out of his contract simply because he no longer liked the type of music One Direction produced, when Kesha is unable to escape even after having been sexually abused?
#FreeKesha is a reminder that we live in a society in which a victim’s word is somehow not enough, that, despite how horribly victims are treated once they come forward, most people who stand up to their abusers are just “lying,” in which women simply are not trusted.