Ellen DeGeneres Recalls Being Abused by Her Stepfather as a Teenager

On the upcoming season of David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, the comedian gave a tearful account: “The only reason I’m actually going to go into detail about it,” she said, “is because I want other girls to not, you know, ever let someone do that.”

Ellen DeGeneres got very candid in a new interview about alleged sexual abuse she endured as a teenager. During an interview with David Letterman on the upcoming second season of Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which premieres May 31, DeGeneres says her stepfather sexually assaulted her.

“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, you know, ever let someone do that,” DeGeneres tells Letterman during the episode.

“My mother had had breast cancer right after they got married,” DeGeneres continues. “So she had a breast removed, and they had a very, very sexual relationship, which was also very uncomfortable for me. And 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 adds that her stepfather convinced her that he needed to feel her breasts—a ploy he used multiple times until during one incident, DeGeneres recalls, “he tried to break my door down, and I kicked the window out and ran because I knew it was gonna do—it was gonna go more to something. And I didn’t want to tell my mother, because I was protecting her and I knew that that would ruin her happiness.”

After a few years, DeGeneres says, she told her mother what had happened, but she says her mother didn’t believe her at the time, and stayed with her stepfather for another 18 years. Eventually, DeGeneres said her mother did leave him, “because he’d changed the story so many times.”

“What most women do is, we just don’t feel like we have a voice,” DeGeneres says. “And that’s the only reason that this is the first time I’ve ever talked about this to anyone other than my friends. We just don’t feel like we’re worthy, or we’re scared to have a voice and we’re scared to say ‘no’….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. It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power.”