Popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres opened up about a disturbing experience she had as a teen growing up in a small Louisiana town. When she was just 15, her stepfather sexually assaulted her.
While speaking on the Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman,” DeGeneres said her stepfather fondled her breasts while pretending he was checking for breast cancer, while her mother was out of town.
“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, 61, explained.
DeGeneres said the assault didn’t happen just once. The man apparently tried time and time again until she crawled through her window to escape him. She ended up sleeping at a hospital for the night.
“He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time. 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.”
It took a few years after the incident for DeGeneres to tell her mother; she said she didn’t want to ruin the woman’s happiness. Yet, when DeGeneres finally told her, she said the woman didn’t believe her and ended up staying with the man for another 18 years.
DeGeneres said he mother eventually figured out the truth after the stepfather kept changing his story throughout the years. Her mother is now apologetic, but the main reason she’s telling her story is to encourage others to find the strength to stand up as well.
“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……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.”
DeGeneres didn’t name her stepfather, who passed away in 1997, but she wants young women to understand that their voice matters and sexual assault should never be tolerated.
“It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power.”
[Feature Photo: Ellen DeGeneres via AP/Chris Pizzello/Invision]