"So many of my friends have gone through something like that, where the guys just don't get it," says Hardwicke of battling sexual assault

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Lady Gaga isn’t the only one who had a personal connection to “Til It Happens to You.”

Gaga recorded the song, in addition to writing it with Diane Warren, for The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses. Also in on the creative process: director Catherine Hardwicke, who directed Twilight.

“Honestly, I’ve been affected by the same situation,” Hardwicke told PEOPLE Sunday at the Cinema Society and Montblanc’s New York premiere of Miss You Already, which she also directed.

“So many of my friends have gone through something like that, where the guys just don’t get it,” says Hardwicke of sexual assault against women. “Maybe they’re not terrible people, but they don’t get what type of effect it has on somebody else.”

Warren recorded two songs for Miss You Already – which stars Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette – and that’s how Hardwicke was introduced to “Til it Happens to You.”

“When we were collaborating together, Diane goes, ‘Catherine, you’ve gotta hear this song.’ Of course when I heard it, I listened to it over and over,” Hardwicke says. “So I thought, ‘Let’s really make a real video so that you can feel what it’s like to go through this, feel the effect it has on other people,'” the director adds.

The filmmaker hopes the music video – which stars Nikki Reed and Dope actress Kiersey Clemons – will empower others and make a difference, particularly on campuses.

“It’s a powerful song. It seems like it’s getting out there, almost 18 million hits,” Hardwicke says. “Campuses are reacting to it and changing policies, or at least examining things.

“We’re excited that it’s shining a light on a subject that can’t be ignored anymore.”