Ellen DeGeneres isn’t afraid to tell her story. The talk show host opened up about being sexually assaulted by her stepfather when she was a teenager in hopes that her story will help give other young girls the courage to stand up for themselves, something she says she wasn’t strong enough to do at the time.
During a season 2 interview on David Letterman’s Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, DeGeneres, 61, got real about her experience. “She remarried a very bad man, a very bad man,” she recalled of her mother, Betty DeGeneres, moving on after her parents divorced when she was 13.
“My mother had breast cancer right after they got married so she had her breast removed and they had very sexual relationship, which was also very uncomfortable for me. And he told me when she was out of town that he felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breast and didn’t want to upset her but needed to feel mine,” Ellen continued.
“Then he tries to do it again another time and then another time, he tries to break my door down and I kick my window out and ran because I knew it was going [to turn into] something. I didn’t want to tell my mother because I was protecting her and I knew that it would ruin her happiness and she was happy with him even though he was a horrible man,” the Finding Dory star explained. “I should never have protected her and I should have protected myself. I didn’t tell her for a few years and then I told her and then she didn’t believe me and then she stayed with him for 18 more years, and finally left him because he changed the story so many times.”
Ellen went on to note that she “didn’t really let” her mom’s disbelief get to her “until recently” and it really set her off. “I kind of went, ‘I wish I would have been better taken care of. I wish you would have believed me,’” she said before sharing that her mother is now “apologetic.”
After detailing the devastating experience, Ellen went on to share that she knows she isn’t alone when it comes to being open about being sexually assaulted.
“What most women do, we just don’t feel like we have a voice. We just don’t feel like we’re worthy and we’re scared to have a voice, we’re scared to say no. Part of it I blame, that first time he really convinced me that he didn’t want to upset her and he really felt another lump and then when I didn’t let him the next time he kept taunting me,” she said. “I like men but there are so many men that get away with so much. It is just time for us to have a voice, it’s time for us to have power.”
This isn’t the first time the comedian has spoken out about her trauma. She briefly spoke about the situation during an interview on the Today show in October 2018 after Christine Blasey Ford made headlines for her claims against Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“As a victim of sexual abuse, I am furious at people who don’t believe it and who say, ‘How do you not remember exactly what day it was?’” she said at the time. “You don’t remember those things. What you remember is what happened to you, where you were, and how you feel. That’s what you remember.”
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman season 2 premieres on Netflix Friday, May 31.
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