Ellen DeGeneres says she was sexually assaulted by her stepfather when she was a teenager, and that he used her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis as an excuse to molest her.
Entertainment Tonight reports that on an upcoming episode of David Letterman’s Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, DeGeneres said her mother married “a very bad man” when DeGeneres was a teen. Shortly thereafter, she said, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy.
“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,” she tells Letterman. “...He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time.”
At one point, DeGeneres said, her stepfather attempted to break down her bedroom door, prompted her to escape via her window. She tried to tell her mother what was going on, she said, but her mother didn’t believe her, and in fact stayed married to the piece of shit for nearly two more decades. After 18 years, though, DeGeneres’s mother finally left him.
This is actually not the first time DeGeneres has spoken out about being sexually assaulted—in 2005, she told Allure her mother’s third husband molested her under the pretense of feeling for cancer lumps, and that he “made me lie down because he said he felt hers while she was lying down.” But she told Letterman she hopes reiterating the story will help other victims come forward, and that she wants women to “to have a voice” and “to have power” when it comes to holding men responsible for assault.
“I’m angry at myself because, you know, I didn’t — I was too weak to stand up to — I was 15 or 16,” Ellen admits. “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.”
The interview airs on Netflix on Friday.