Lindsay Ell Reveals She Was Raped at 13 and 21 — Now, She’s Sharing Her Story To Help Others

When she announced her new album, Heart Theory, Lindsay Ell promised this would be her most personal and revealing album…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

July 7, 2020

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Lindsay Ell; Photo by Jeremy Cowart

When she announced her new album, Heart Theory, Lindsay Ell promised this would be her most personal and revealing album to date. She wasn’t exaggerating.

Ahead of the project’s August 14 release, Ell dropped a new track, “Make You,” which addresses being a survivor of sexual assault.

“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 on the emotional chorus.

The singer/songwriter/musician opened up about her encounters with sexual violence in the latest issue of People.

“I was raped when I was 13, and it happened again when I was 21,” she revealed to the publication. “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 co-wrote “Make You” alongside fellow singer/songwriter Brandy Clark. The release date is meaningful to Ell for a number of reasons.

“I wanted to release it on Global Forgiveness Day. Forgiving people in our past is a huge thing for whatever reason, but forgiving yourself is so important,” she explains. “There’s an incredible amount of healing that can happen, and it can’t happen until you can truly open up that forgiveness for your own heart.”

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Though it may have been difficult to share her story, Ell acknowledges that it’s helped her to heal.

“Part of me talking about it now is liberating the little 13-year-old Lindsay and the 21-year-old Lindsay,” she says. “Pain is something we can let control us if we don’t deal with it, but the minute you put a voice to your story the shame has no power.”

Ell went on to detail the assault, revealing that it was a man in her church who groomed her and raped her.

“I felt like I had really messed up, that everybody was going to judge me and that the rest of my life was ruined,” she admits.

Years later, when she was 20, Ell told her parents about the rape.

“They had no idea it happened, and they were absolutely horrified,” she explains. “I’m so grateful towards both of them because they helped me not go into any unhealthy mechanisms to cope.”

As for the second rape, Ell didn’t go into detail, only sharing that it was “different” and “a lot more violent.”

These two events left a lasting mark on Ell, who suffered from depression and anxiety for years to come.

“I was pretty messed up emotionally,” she shares. “I had a weird relationship with anything about the body because I just hadn’t felt safe.”

Now, the songstress is sharing her story with hopes to help others.

In conjunction with the release of “Make You,” Ell launched the Make You Movement, a charitable fund whose mission is “to help organizations that support at-risk youth, domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors by provided funds on an as-needed basis.”

All proceeds from “Make You” will be donated to the Make You Movement. According to a press release, the first partner organization receiving funds from Make You Movement will be The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which is the United States’ largest anti-sexual violence organization.

“I believe music has the power to heal. The reason I decided to share my story at this point in my life is that I want it to be able to help a lot of people; and the best way to help people is to not only raise my voice, but to raise money in an effort to raise awareness and understanding,” Ell says. “I want to support programs that help girls & boys who may have been victims and support safety and prevention programs that aim to keep potential victims safe. Finally writing ‘Make You’ has given me the courage to not let my past decide my future, so I am taking action in order to do just that. My hope is that my actions and song will inspire the same in others.”

For additional details about the Make You Movement, click HERE.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.