WRITTEN BY: CECILIE BREE WILKINS
While appearing on David Letterman’s new Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” Ellen Degeneres revealed her experience with sexual abuse as a teen at the hands of her stepfather. The popular daytime host explained that her mother did not believe her account of the incident and remained married for another 18 years.
DeGeneres recalls that when she was a teenager her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. “He told me when [my mom] was out of town that he’d felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breasts, Anyway, he convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time,” she told Letterman.
She explained that at one point, “he tried to break my door down, and I kicked the window out and ran.”
Like many, DeGeneres expressed that she experienced feelings of guilt after her assault, stating, “I’m angry at myself because, you know, I didn’t. I was too weak to stand up to, I was 15 or 16.”
DeGeneres initially kept the assault a secret from her mother while she was dealing with her cancer diagnosis.
DeGeneres stated, “I should never have protected her. I should’ve protected myself, and 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.”
She explained that ultimately her mother did leave her stepfather due to his inconsistent recollection of the story.
Degeneres’ mother, Betty, told NBC, “I know now that one of the hardest things to do is speak up after being sexually abused. I love my daughter, and I wish I had the capacity to listen to her when she told me what happened. I live with that regret, and I wouldn’t want that for any other parent. If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them.”
DeGeneres initially spoke on her experience with sexual abuse as a child in 2005 to Allure Magazine, however she explained that she felt it necessary to be vocal about her experience once again to empower others to do the same.
“It’s a really horrible, horrible story, and the only reason I’m actually going to go into detail about it is because I want other girls to not ever let someone do that,” DeGeneres said. “That’s the only reason I think it’s important to talk about it because there’s so many young girls, and it doesn’t matter how old you are. When I see people speaking out, especially now, it angers me when victims aren’t believed, because we just don’t make stuff up. And I like men, but there are so many men that get away with so much.”
Photo Source: Screenshot from “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction”