Ellen DeGeneres is opening up for the first time about a traumatic experience from her childhood.
On a season two episode of Netflix’s “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman”, the daytime talk show host recalls her mother, Betty DeGeneres, marrying “a very bad man” when DeGeneres was just a teenager.
DeGeneres explains that just after Betty married this man, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had one of her breasts removed. DeGeneres says the man used this information to sexually assault her.
“He told me when she was out of town that he’d felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breasts because he didn’t want to upset her, but he needed to feel mine,” she recalls. “Again, ’cause I didn’t know about bodies, I don’t know that breasts are all different and… 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.”
DeGeneres goes into even more detail about the incident, telling Letterman, “He tries to break my door down, and I kicked the window out and ran ’cause I knew it was going to go more to something… and I didn’t want to tell my mother ’cause I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness.”
“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 admits. “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.”
The 61-year-old TV personality continues, “I should never have protected her. I should have 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. And finally left him because he’d changed the story so many times.”
As for how her relationship with her mother — who has appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on multiple occasions — is now, she confesses, “I always have taken care of her my whole life. So I just kept taking care of her. I didn’t really let it get to me. Until recently, I kind of went, ‘I wish I would have been better taken care of. I wish she would have believed me.’ And she’s apologetic, but, you know…”
DeGeneres hopes her story helps other victims of sexual assault come forward. “We [women] just don’t feel like we’re worthy, or we’re scared to have a voice, and we’re scared to say no,” she says. “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.”
DeGeneres further proclaims to cheers from the audience, “It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power.”
For more with DeGeneres, including her talking about dating guys in high school, coming out as gay and her marriage, check out “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” when season two premieres on Netflix on Friday.
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