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The Story Behind Katy Perry’s Emotional Grammys Performance

Katy Perry

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updated 08/25/2015 AT 8:16 PM ET

originally published 02/05/2015 AT 7:15 AM ET

Katy Perry most recently teamed up with Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott for an epic Super Bowl halftime show, but nothing can compare with her upcoming collaboration at the Grammy Awards on Sunday.

Perry is scheduled to take the stage with domestic violence survivor Brooke Axtell, who will perform a written-word piece while the “Roar” singer performs her touching ballad “By the Grace of God”.

“It’s an honor to collaborate with Katy in this way. She has been very devoted to various aspects of female empowerment,” Axtell, 34, tells PEOPLE. “It’s going to bring a lot of encouragement and freedom to those who hear my story and know that they are not alone in this.”

Axtell is an Austin-based activist for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking who pulls from her own experience in hopes of inspiring others.

Brooke Axtell

McCarson L. Jones
“It has been deeply interconnected to my recovery process to be very vocal,” says Axtell. “There is still such a stigma about being transparent about this kind of struggle and survivors have nothing to be ashamed of. I believe that when we bring all our fear and shame into the light, that is when we find healing and freedom.”

The collaboration between Perry and Axtell was the brainchild of Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, who first got the idea to do a piece on domestic violence at a counsel meeting with White House officials late last year.

“I started thinking about it and said, ‘There is probably an opportunity here to do something really important,’ ” says Ehrlich. “It is one thing to have Katy sing, but why would we not want to accompany it with someone’s personal experience who could humanize [domestic violence] and make it relatable to millions of men and women who are survivors.”

Axtel, for one, is extremely touched Ehrlich would feel the need to dedicate a segment of his star-studded awards show to an issue she feels so passionate about.

“I am deeply grateful for the male allies that are taking a stand against this form of injustice,” she says. “I respect and admire that they are willing to use their sphere of influence to create change.”

“I don’t see myself as a victim. I see myself as a warrior for peace and healing,” she continues. “I’ve taken back my power and now I want to honor and elevate the voices of those who have been silenced by abuse.”

The 2015 Grammy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 8, 8 p.m. ET on CBS.