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Vince Gill shares story of sexual assault during Nashville performance

(Fox 17 News)

Country music icon Vince Gill revealed that he's a sexual assault survivor during a performance at the Ryman Auditorium on Tuesday.

Watch the full story on Fox 17 News at 9. Stream it here: fox17.com/watch

Gill sang his song "Forever Changed" about sexual assault and admitted he's a survivor. The song is about how a girl's experience with sexual assault impacts her, but it's inspired by an experience Gill had in middle school.

"We're living in a time now when people are having the courage to speak out about being abused, and I think that is beyond beautiful," Gill said. "People finally have a voice for being wronged."

According to the Sexual Assault Center, this is an issue impacting more men than you may think. So far, the "Me Too" movement has been fueled primarily by women nationwide, with celebrities and others saying speaking out with stories of sexual assault.

Gill stunned the audience and joined the list of stars raising awareness for harassment and abuse.

"I was in seventh grade and a young dumb kid, and I had a gym teacher that acted inappropriately towards me and was trying to do things that I didn't know what the hell was going on, and I was just fortunate I got up and I ran," Gill said.

Heather Meshell works at the Sexual Assault Center and said while all stories deserve to be heard, she's glad a male public figure is now coming forward.

"Males are deeply conditioned by our society to not necessarily want to speak on these issues,"Meshell said. "They don't want to talk about things that have happened to them so having someone with that much influence speak out is so powerful for other male survivors."

While sexual assault impacts one in four women and one in six men, Meshell suspects the ratio is actually higher for men.

Gill's performance was for an event related to the Country Radio Seminar happening this week in downtown Nashville. Given the strong response to Tuesday's performance, it's likely this is not the last time Gill will be performing it.

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