In an episode of Netflix's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres reveals that she was sexually assaulted at age 15 by her former stepfather, who used her mother's breast cancer diagnosis as a way to abuse her.
ET reports that in the upcoming episode, out this Friday, DeGeneres says her former stepfather told her "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. He needed to feel mine."
DeGeneres was young and "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 comedian said that when her stepfather attempted to break her door down, she "kicked the window out and ran" to escape him, knowing the abuse would only continue.
"I didn't want to tell my mother 'cause I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness," she explained. "I should never have protected her. I should have protected myself." DeGeneres waited a few years to confess about the abuse, but when she eventually did her mother didn't believe her and stayed with the man for another 18 years. "Finally, [she] left him because he'd changed the story so many times."
DeGeneres is now speaking out to inspire others dealing with sexual abuse. "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." Women, she said, "don't feel like we're worthy, or we're scared to have a voice, and we're scared to say no. 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. It is just time for us to have a voice. It's time for us to have power."