After an introduction by Vice President Joe Biden, Gaga performed the emotional ballad from The Hunting Ground while surrounded, onstage, by actual survivors of sexual assault.
Joining hands with the men and women from behind her piano, Gaga showed solidarity with the young survivors, who all had words like “Unbreakable” written on their arms.
As the survivors left the stage, even Best Actress winner Brie Larson stopped every participant to give a hug.
While “Til It Happens To You” didn’t end up winning Best Original Song, writer Diane Warren said in a statement that the performance was “about giving a voice to the many victims of sexual assault and their families around the world.”
She continued, “We are honored to represent so many survivors and hope ‘Til It Happens To You’ empowers those watching to get involved and become part of a solution.”
One participant, Zerlina Maxwell, shared photos from backstage and wrote, “so inspired by this amazing group of brave survivors.”
Other survivors were members of organization End Rape on Campus, which works to eliminate sexual assault on campus.