Ellen DeGeneres Opens Up About Being Sexually Assaulted as a Teenager

Ellen DeGeneres has been on our television screens for almost two decades. She’s always been very open with her viewers about the things that she has gone through. So much so, that you may have thought that you knew everything there was to know about DeGeneres.

But on season two of Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, DeGeneres opened up about a very intimate topic. Her sexual assault.

What happened to DeGeneres?

On the show, DeGeneres talked about a man that her mother, Betty, married. Soon after the wedding, Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have one of her breasts removed.

“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,” DeGeneres said. “Again, ’cause I didn’t know about bodies, I don’t know that breasts are all different and… 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.”

The situation escalated until DeGeneres felt that she needed to get out.

“He tries to break my door down, and I kicked the window out and ran ’cause I knew it was going to go more to something… and I didn’t want to tell my mother ’cause I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness.”

Though the incident was hard for DeGeneres to recount, she felt that it was important for her to do so.

“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 told Letterman. “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.”

Does DeGeneres still talk to her mom?

DeGeneres did eventually tell her mother what happened. But by that time, Betty didn’t believe her.

“I should never have protected her,” DeGeneres said. “I should have protected myself and I didn’t tell her for a few years and then I told her. 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.”

DeGeneres and her mother have a better relationship now, but she still wishes that her mom had done more for her when she was growing up.

“I always have taken care of her my whole life,” the comedian said of her mom. “So I just kept taking care of her. I didn’t really let it get to me. 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…”

Why is DeGeneres opening up now?

DeGeneres is sharing her story now in order to encourage girls who go through similar things to speak up.

“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.”