Talk show host Ellen Degeneres recently opened up about having been sexually assaulted in the past by “a very bad man” her mother was married to. Ellen, 61, first revealed the traumatic experience last year on her own show while the case of university professor Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was ongoing. That time, she held back details. However, she let it all out while speaking with David Letterman for an episode of his Netflix show, “My Next Guess Needs No Introduction,” which will be released Friday, May 31st.

DeGeneres said the abuse started after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. Her stepfather at the time manipulated the information and abused 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,” she told 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.”

She had kept the assaults to herself, revealing nothing to her mother. In retrospect, she wishes she hadn’t.

“I should never have protected her. 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.”

Ellen also spoke about how that decision has affected her relationship with her mother to this day.

NBC News spoke with Ellen’s mother, Betty Degeneres about not believing her daughter’s stories and she was filled with remorse for all that her daughter had gone through.

“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.

Both Ellen and her mother have managed to enjoy a close and loving relationship despite these setbacks. Ellen is hoping to empower women by speaking out about her own experience.


“I like men,” she told Letterman. “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.”


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