Ellen DeGeneres opens up about the sexual abuse she suffered from her step-father in an interview with David Letterman for his Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, airing this Friday. The comedian/talk show host tells Letterman that when she was “15 or 16” her mother’s new husband used her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis as an excuse to grope her.
“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 says.
DeGeneres says she’s still angry about the abuse by her mother’s husband—now dead—and wishes she had handled it differently. She regrets having initially kept the violence a secret from her mother. “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.”
But the revelation didn’t help: “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.”
DeGeneres, who first talked about the assaults to Allure in 2005, says she’s telling her story to help other women find their voice. “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.”
The episode will be available on Netflix on Friday, May 31.
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