Television guru Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about a painful teenage experience in hopes of helping young women and girls.
DeGeneres revealed that she was sexually assaulted by her mother’s husband, calling him a “very bad man.”
The 61-year-old shared the story on the Netflix series, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman,” Entertainment Tonight reports.
She explained that the incident occurred after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. DeGeneres’ stepfather told her that he needed to check her for cancer while her mother was out of town, she said:
“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.”
The television host said she hasn’t fully gotten over the fact that she didn’t stand up to him. DeGeneres admitted:
“I’m angry at myself because, you know, I didn’t — I was too weak to stand up to — I was 15 or 16. 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 she told her mother, Betty DeGeneres, a few years later, but explained that she didn’t believe her and “stayed with him for 18 more years,” Radar Online reports.
The talk show host said her mother eventually “left him because he’d changed the story so many times.”
DeGeneres added that she hopes that sharing her past struggles will help others. She said:
“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. 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 said her mother has apologized for not believing her at first.