Ellen DeGeneres has opened up about being sexually assaulted by her stepfather as a teenager, saying that she felt “angry” at herself for not standing up to him.
In her upcoming interview on David Letterman‘s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, the popular TV host reportedly spoke about her mother, Betty, marrying a “very bad man” when DeGeneres was a teenager.
According to Entertainment Tonight, DeGeneres explains that at the time, her mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and had one of her breasts removed. She said her stepfather used this information to sexually assault her.
“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,” she tells Letterman.
“I’m angry at myself because, you know, I didn’t — I was too weak to stand up to — I was 15 or 16,” she continues. “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.”
According to ET, DeGeneres says she hopes her story will inspire other victims of sexual assault to come forward.
“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,” she says. “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 adds. “It’s time for us to have power.”
The 61-year-old first shared her story in an interview with Allure in 2005, revealing that after her mother’s mastectomy, her stepfather told her: “He thinks he feels a lump in (my mother’s) other breast, but he doesn’t want to alarm her so he needs to feel mine to make sure.”
DeGeneres, who did not name the man or specify how long the abuse lasted but told Allure he had since died, said he “made me lie down because he said he felt her breast while she was lying down.”
“I had to kick a window out and escape and sleep in a hospital all night long,” she recalled.