Ellen DeGeneres says she was sexually abused by her stepfather as a teen

By Danielle Garrand

/ CBS News

In an upcoming episode of the Netflix show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman," Ellen DeGeneres opened up about the alleged sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager at the hands of her then-stepfather, Entertainment Tonight reported.

The beloved daytime talk show host told Letterman her mother Betty DeGeneres got married to "a very bad man" when DeGeneres was a teenager. Soon after, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and one of her breasts was removed. Ellen said her stepfather manipulated the surgery and her mother's diagnosis to sexually assault her multiple times, according to ET.

"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 told Letterman, according to ET. "…He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time."

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She told the former "Late Show" host her stepfather allegedly attempted to break down her bedroom door, forcing her to escape through her window.

"I'm angry at myself because, you know, I didn't — I was too weak to stand up to — I was 15 or 16," DeGeneres said. The comedian did tell her mother about the alleged abuse a few years later. However, she said he mom didn't believe her and stayed married to the man for 18 more years.

DeGeneres' mother did eventually leave her husband after he kept changing his side of the story, but the comedian said she still wishes her mother believed her. "I always have taken care of her my whole life. So I just kept taking care of her. I didn't really let it get to me," she said, according to ET. "Until recently, I kind of went, 'I wish I would have been better taken care of. I wish she would have believed me.' And she's apologetic, but, you know…"

While the story is not an easy one to open up about, the multiple Emmy-award winner said she is speaking publicly about it to help other victims of sexual assault 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 said. "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 interview, which drops on the streaming platform with the show's second season Friday, is not the first time the star has spoken out about the alleged abuse. She revealed the story in a 2005 interview with "Allure" magazine and also spoke about it in a 2018 interview on her show with "Today" host Savannah Guthrie while discussing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

First published on May 28, 2019 / 10:54 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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