Betty DeGeneres, the mother of Ellen DeGeneres, is speaking out for the first time about her daughter’s claim that Betty did not believe her when Ellen said she was sexually assaulted by her late stepfather as a teen.
The daytime talk show host alleged her stepfather abused her in a tell-all interview on David Letterman‘s Netflix talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”
The 89-year-old said that she loves her daughter and believes her.
“I know now that one of the hardest things to do is speak up after being sexually abused,” Betty said. “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.”
During her interview with Letterman, DeGeneres admitted the man reportedly touched her breasts.
“He told me when she was out of town that he’d felt a lump in [my mother’s] breast and needed to feel my breasts because he didn’t want to upset her, but he needed to feel mine,” she recalled. “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.”
She continued, “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.”
“It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power,” the Emmy-winner added.