Ellen DeGeneres revisits abuse she experienced as a teenager in an upcoming episode of David Letterman’s Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”
In the interview, which releases Friday, DeGeneres talks about being sexually assaulted by her mother’s then-husband when she was a teen.
The abuse started, DeGeneres said, after her mother, Betty, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“He told me when [my mom] was out of town that he’d felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breasts,” she recalled in her conversation with Letterman. “Anyway, he convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time.”
DeGeneres first opened up about the abuse by her stepfather, who is deceased, in an 2005 interview with Allure.
She told Letterman she’s sharing her account with the hope of empowering other women and girls.
“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. “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 said she didn’t tell her mom right away in an effort to protect her.
“I should never have protected [my mother]. I should have protected myself and I didn’t tell her for a few years, and then I told her,” she said. “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.”
Betty DeGeneres released a statement to NBC on Friday about her daughter’s experiences.
“I know now that one of the hardest things to do is speak up after being sexually abused. I love my daughter, and I wish I had the capacity to listen to her when she told me what happened,” she said. “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.”
Ellen DeGeneres told Letterman she wants to encourage other survivors not to suffer in silence.
“When I see people speaking out, especially now, it angers me when victims aren’t believed,” DeGeneres said, adding,”because we just don’t make stuff up.”