Television host Ellen DeGeneres opened up about a painful childhood sexual assault earlier this week that left some fans upset with her mother, Betty DeGeneres.
Now, the 89-year-old mother is speaking out.
Ellen appeared on the Netflix series, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman,” where she revealed that her stepfather once sexually abused her while her mother was out of town.
She said that the assault occurred when she was just a teen after her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ellen told Letterman:
“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.”
When Ellen told Betty about the incident years later, she said that her mother didn’t believe her and stayed with the man for “18 more years.”
Betty eventually left him because “he’d changed the story so many times,” she added.
Many social media users expressed outrage at the mother for not believing her child’s abuse allegations. One critic wrote on Facebook:
How can a mom NOT believe her child?
Now, Betty has issued a statement to “Today” about her daughter. She said that she feels “regret” over how she handled the situation.
“I live with that regret,” – Ellen Degeneres’ mother, Betty, in her first statement since Ellen’s revelations of sexual abuse, provided exclusively to @TODAYshow. “If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them,” she writes. pic.twitter.com/um1zfLq89Y
— Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) May 31, 2019
The statement reads:
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.
Ellen previously stated that her mother offered an apology for failing to believe her initially.
She has not publicly responded to her mother’s new statement.