Katy Perry invited Brooke Axtell, a domestic violence survivor and activist, to open her moving performance at the 2015 Grammy Awards last night.
Before Perry performed, Axtell took the stage to tell the harrowing story of the abusive relationship she suffered through, and barely survived.
Her spoken-word piece was both tragic and inspiring at the same time:
Like so many other domestic abuse victims, Brooke Axtell believed her compassion could help her partner, but her empathy was used against her.
When he threatened to kill her, Brooke realized that she had to escape, and revealed the situation to her mother, which ultimately saved her life.
Because she was encouraged to rise above the shame and fear and approach a local domestic violence shelter, Axtell lived to tell this story.
She was not alone in spreading this important message Sunday.
Prior to Axtell's sobering speech, President Barack Obama appeared on an overhead screen, urging fans to rise up against domestic violence:
The President expressed that nearly one in five American women suffer rape or attempted rape, and one in four endure some form of domestic abuse.
Obama said this is not okay and needs to stop, but it won't without all of us doing our part to raise awareness, help victims and report attackers.
Following Obama and Axtell came Katy Perry, who sang "By the Grace of God," in what was a drastic departure from her Super Bowl halftime show.
Perry went on to describe her own experience with suicidal thoughts.
We applaud her for using this platform to tackle such an important and complex subject. Watch the superstar's passionate performance below.
Axtell, in an interview after the show, said that it was thrilling to get a chance to raise the issue of domestic violence in front of such a large audience.
“When we express our creativity, we have the power to decide how we will relate to our trauma and the story we will tell about our lives,” she said.
She founded Survivors Healing and Empowerment, a support group for victims, and is involved with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
She also works with SafePlace, a shelter in her hometown of Austin, Texas.
“Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence, shame or abuse,” Axtell said on the Grammys 2015 stage.