Speaking out. Ellen DeGeneres’ mother, Betty DeGeneres, broke her silence regarding her daughter’s sexual assault allegations against the comedian’s late stepfather.
“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,” Betty told NBC News in a statement on Friday, May 31. “I live with that regret, and I wouldn’t want that for any other parent.”
She concluded: “If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them.”
Ellen, 61, spoke candidly about being sexually assaulted by her mother’s husband when she was a teenager on season 2 of David Letterman’s Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
“She remarried a very bad man, a very bad man,” the talk show host recalled of her mother’s second husband. “My mother had breast cancer right after they got married so she had her breast removed and they had a very sexual relationship, which was also very uncomfortable for me. And he told me when she was out of town that he felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breast and didn’t want to upset her but needed to feel mine.”
Ellen told Letterman that she didn’t want to tell Betty about the abuse because she was “protecting” her mother and didn’t want to “ruin her happiness.”
“I should never have protected her and I should have protected myself,” the Finding Dory voice actress said. “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 changed the story so many times.”
Ellen added that she didn’t “really let” her mother’s reaction bother her “until recently.”
“I kind of went, ‘I wish I would have been better taken care of. I wish you would have believed me,’” she explained to Letterman before revealing that Betty is now “apologetic.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.
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