NEW YORK (TCA/DPA) – Ellen DeGeneres is using her platform to discuss her experience with sexual assault in the hopes of helping fellow survivors.
Speaking on season two of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, DeGeneres mentioned that her mother, Betty DeGeneres, had married “a very bad man” when the US talk show host was a teen.
Betty was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer, having one of her breasts removed as a result.
DeGeneres’ stepfather abused Betty’s condition in targeting the younger DeGeneres.
“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,” DeGeneres said, adding that the assault took place more than once.
The TV personality is “angry” about her response to the incident, “I was too weak to stand up – 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 is hopeful that speaking out will encourage others to do the same.
“We just don’t feel like we’re worthy, or we’re scared to have a voice, and we’re scared to say no,” she explained.
“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.”
“It is just time for us to have a voice,” she added. “It’s time for us to have power.”
DeGeneres went public with her experience as early as 2005 when she spoke to Allure, recalling that her late stepfather touching her breasts had turned into “other things.”
She also opened up about his attempt to break into her bedroom.
“I had to kick a window out and escape and sleep in a hospital all night long,” DeGeneres said at the time.
“It’s important for teenage girls out there to hear that there are different ways to say no,” she added, urging that anyone who has a similar experience “should tell someone right away”.
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