Local sexual assault survivor talks about sharing the stage with Lady Gaga during the Oscars

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Mar. 2, 2016)-- It's the Oscars performance that's still being talked about, and it's bringing awareness to sexual assault.

Lady Gaga, along with other brave survivors, marked an unforgettable moment in the show and a local student was on that national stage.

In the midst of 51 sexual assault survivors on stage with Lady Gaga during her Oscars performance was IUPUI student activist Kirat Sandhu.

"I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse," said Sandhu.

Lady Gaga performed the song "'Til It Happens To You" from the campus sexual assault documentary, The Hunting Ground. Sandhu received the invitation to join other survivors on stage through her work with the Its On Us campaign. She serves on the student advisory committee for the IUPUI branch of the organization and performs advocacy work with the Undergraduate Student Government.

"It's on all of us to end sexual assault. It's not on the victim. It's not just the rapist. It's everybody involved. Everybody who sees it. Everybody who suspects it," said Sandhu.

She said the trauma from her past came to a breaking point when she first went away to college at IU Bloomington.

"I started counseling. I was hospitalized. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and that was all so new to me because for years I convinced myself I was fine," said Sandhu.

Once she transferred to IUPUI, she told her story of survival more and more, which lead her share a national stage with other survivors.

"We felt anger and sadness and happiness and just validation for sharing our stories all these years and for fighting back," said Sandhu.

Many also learned for the first time Lady Gaga is also a survivor. She first connected with the group privately during rehearsals.

"She was crying and her makeup was running down her face, and the fact that she let us see her like that meant so much to all of us," said Sandhu.

The experience sent the philanthropic studies and women and gender student home, even more inspired to fight.

"It was something I will never forget. Holding hands with everyone at the end there and raising them up in defiance with Lady Gaga."

Vice President Joe Biden introduced the performance and encouraged everyone to take a pledge to recognize and intervene in sexual assault situations.

If you would like to learn more about the pledge, click here.

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