Lindsay Ell Reveals She Was Raped as a Teenager in New Song, ‘Make You’ [LISTEN]
Lindsay Ell reveals a tragic truth in her new song "Make You": She was raped at the age of 13. It's not the only time it's happened to her either, she shares in a new interview.
"I was raped when I was 13, and it happened again when I was 21," Ell reveals to People. "The song only talks about the first time. It's just a difficult thing to talk about, and it's something that I process every day still."
Ell was first raped by a man her family knew from church. He groomed her, and after the rape, Ell says she "felt like I had really messed up, that everybody was going to judge me and that the rest of my life was ruined." She didn't tell her parents what had happened until she was 20 years old.
"They had no idea it happened, and they were absolutely horrified," she shares. "I'm so grateful towards both of them because they helped me not go into any unhealthy mechanisms to cope."
Ell sought therapy after that, but then was raped again. She says it was a "different" and "a lot more violent" situation, but declines to share further details, except to say that she suffered from depression and anxiety after it happened.
"I was pretty messed up emotionally," Ell admits. "I had a weird relationship with anything about the body because I just hadn't felt safe."
About three years ago, the country singer shared her story with a group of strangers: 12 girls at Youth for Tomorrow, an organization for young victims of sexual assault. She was there to help launch a music program.
"As I told more of my story, they felt more inclined to share theirs," Ell says of the young women with whom she spoke. "I remember walking out of there just feeling so empowered and like I was 10 feet tall."
Ell co-wrote "Make You" with Brandy Clark — the fellow tunesmith Ell knew she needed for the job. Ell describes Clark in a press release as "an absolute wordsmith and songwriter genius," and says Clark "fearlessly and immediately" signed on for the task.
"The day we wrote "Make You," I knew we had written something special that will hopefully help others to not feel alone in their survival," Ell explains." And more personally, it was finally the moment in my life where I got to validate that little girl inside, letting her know that ‘I see her and I love her.'"
The piano ballad reflects on Ell's emotions about her first rape at the ages of 13, 18, 20 and 25 "It's gonna make you hate yourself / When you didn't hate yourself at all / It's gonna make you build a fortress / Where you never had a wall / It's gonna make you question God / And wonder if He even cares / 'Cause it's so messed up, it's so wrong, it's just so unfair," Ell sings in the chorus.
"And when you're broken past the point of what a broken heart can take / The cracks will heal, but you'll always feel the break / And that's what's gonna make you," she adds.
Ell released "Make You" on Tuesday (July 7), which is World Forgiveness Day. As part of the song's launch, she has established the Make You Movement, a charity to support organizations that help domestic and sexual abuse survivors and at-risk youth, including the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, Ell's first partner organization. All proceeds from the song will go to the fund, which is being administered by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
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