Megan Thee Stallion is speaking out about the impact the Tory Lanez trial had and still has on her mental health, as well as the responses from fellow members of the music industry who “treated my trauma like a running joke.”
In an essay published in Elle on Tuesday, the Houston-raised singer and rapper spoke out for the first time since the trial, addressing the racist and sexist responses to her being shot in the foot by the Canadian rapper, a former friend and member of her inner circle. Stallion was shot in the foot by Lanez — whose legal name is Daystar Peterson — in July 2020 after they left a party in the Hollywood Hills.
“For years, my attacker laughed and joked about my trauma. For years, my attacker peddled false narratives about what happened on the night of July 12, 2020. For years, my attacker tried to leverage social media to take away my power,” Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, wrote. “Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day? Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle.”
Last December, Lanez was found guilty, with one felony count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, negligent discharge of a firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle. (He was initially slated to be sentenced in January and is facing more than 20 years in jail, but the sentencing was delayed again on Monday, ABC News reported.)
Stallion shared in the essay that she ultimately wished to keep the incident private but that was complicated by Lanez going public — a move that the “Savage” rapper said had a devastating impact.
“I wish I could have handled this situation privately. That was my intention, but once my attacker made it public, everything changed. By the time I identified my attacker, I was completely drained,” she recalled. “Many thought I was inexplicably healed because I was still smiling through the pain, still posting on social media, still performing, still dancing and still releasing music.”
However, Stallion was not fine, with the Grammy winner sharing that she faced an onslaught of harassment, conspiracy theories and pile-ons from fellow artists. That resulted in her falling into depression which frequently saw her crying backstage and in hotel rooms before she had to go out for public performances.
“I could have let the adversity break me, but I persevered, even as people treated my trauma like a running joke,” she wrote. “First, there were conspiracy theories that I was never shot. Then came the false narratives that my former best friend shot me. Even some of my peers in the music industry piled on with memes, jokes and sneak disses, and completely ignored the fact that I could have lost my life. Instead of condemning any form of violence against a woman, these individuals tried to justify my attacker’s actions.”
Within the essay, Stallion calls attention to the way that women are often not believed, particularly Black women, who — through longstanding racial stereotypes — are deemed “strong,” “outspoken” and thus “don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.”
“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. “Time after time, women are bullied with backlash for speaking out against their attackers, especially when they’re accusing someone who is famous and wealthy. They’re often accused of lying or attempting to make money from their trauma. From firsthand experience, I know why a lot of women don’t come forward. Any support and empathy that I received was drowned out by overwhelming doubt and criticism from so many others.”
While the rapper says she faced criticism for speaking her truth, she is also grateful to the supporters and her fans — “the Hotties” — who showed up to the courthouse and to the women who “rallied around me, used their voices, and penned an open letter of support on my behalf.”
She also shows support to the larger community of survivors. “You matter. You are not at fault. You are important. You are loved. You are not defined by your trauma. You can continue to write beautiful, new chapters to your life story,” she wrote.
Stallion adds she’s now in “a happier place” but still faces mental health challenges, including ongoing anxiety when asked to talk about the incident. That is largely the reason she opted to write the essay, noting this will be her final time discussing the case publicly.
“My purpose is for these words to serve as the final time that I’ll address anything regarding this case in the press,” she wrote towards the end of the essay. “I understand the public intrigue, but for the sake of my mental health, I don’t plan to keep reliving the most traumatic experience of my life over and over again. I’m choosing to change the narrative because I’m more than just my trauma.”