Country music star Lindsay Ell has revealed that she was raped at the ages of 13 and 21, saying that sharing her story has strengthened her after nearly two decades of ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’.
The 31-year-old singer hopes to help fellow survivors feel less alone with her new single ‘make you’ in which she talks about sexual abuse as a young teenager.
“I was raped when I was 13 and it happened again when I was 21,” she said People. “The song only talks about the first time. It’s just hard to talk about, and it’s something I still process every day. ‘
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Opening: Country singer Lindsay Ell, 31, revealed that she had been raped at the age of 13 and 21
Looking back: The singer (March photo), who grew up in Calgary, Canada, said that a man in her church who knew her family took care of her before raping her when she was 13
The heartbreaking ballad, co-written with singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, explores how the confusion and shame she struggled with for years after being raped ultimately strengthened her.
“Something that has been taken / Before you could give it away / And you feel dirty, you feel guilty / For what was done to you / There will be a gap in your chest / For what you cannot undo,” she said sings on the track.
“You’re going to hate yourself / If you didn’t hate yourself at all / You’re going to build a fortress / Where you’ve never had a wall.”
Trauma: Ell didn’t confide in her parents until she was twenty. Shortly after, she was raped again. Ell is pictured in 2011 (left) and in Nashville, Tennessee in 2013 (right)
Breakthrough Moment: Almost three years ago, she shared her story with other survivors of sexual assault, which gave her strength and made her realize she wasn’t alone
Growing up in Calgary, Canada, Ell said that a man in her church who knew her family cared for her before raping her. She explained that she felt that she “really made a mistake” and that she would be judged.
She believed her “life had been ruined” and told her parents about the attack when she was 20 years old. After confiding in her mother and father, she entered therapy for the first time.
She was raped again at the age of 21. This time, she said the attack was “different” and “much more violent,” although she declined to comment.
Share her story: Ell talks about sexual abuse as a young teenager in her new single ‘make you’ from her upcoming album ‘heart theory’
“I was emotionally confused,” said Ell, who then suffered from depression and anxiety. “I had a weird relationship with something about the body because I just hadn’t felt safe.”
Nearly three years later, she told her story with 12 girls during a visit to Youth for Tomorrow, a Virginia-based organization that supports young victims of sexual abuse.
The singer, who was there to help launch the organization’s music program, said the more she talked, the more willing the girls were to tell their own stories.
“I remember when I was so powerful there and like I was three meters long,” she said of the breakthrough moment.
Making a difference: Ell launches the Make You movement to support victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, as well as those at risk
Frank: Ell said she still carries ‘shame and guilt’, but she ‘fights every day’
Ell said she wanted to release her new single ‘make you’ from her upcoming album ‘heart theory’ on Tuesday – World Forgiveness Day – because forgiving yourself is an important part of healing for survivors.
She also launches the Make You movement under the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to support victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and at-risk youth.
The proceeds from her new song will go to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the movement’s first partner.
“I still carry shame and guilt, but I take my 13-year-old myself and my 21-year-old self and fight together every day,” said Ell.