Inspired to use her past — and her voice — to create hope and change for other survivors, Ell has wielded the courage she felt that day to also dig deep into her own healing.
"I still carry shame and guilt, but I'm taking the hand of my 13-year-old self and my 21-year-old self and fighting every day together," she says.
She's also launching the Make You Movement under the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to support at-risk youth, domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors. As the movement's first partner, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) will be receiving proceeds from "make you."
"I felt so alone for so long, like 'This only happened to me.' But it's not true," says Ell of wanting to build a connection with fellow survivors. "If I would've known that when I was 13, I would have felt such a deep feeling of relief."
Now, she's encouraging other little girls and boys who have been hurt to embrace themselves — and their future. "I hear you and I see you. You're not broken," says Ell. "And you are worthy of incredible things."
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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