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Ellen Shares She Was Sexually Assaulted by Her Stepfather as a Teenager

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Beloved talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres is taking her turn on the Netflix series, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” during the second episode of the second season. According to Entertainment Tonight, DeGeneres shared for the first time during her episode she was sexually assaulted as a teenager after being manipulated by her then-stepfather.

DeGeneres said during the intimate conversation with Letterman that her mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her stepfather at the time, who DeGeneres described as a “very bad man,” manipulated her mom’s cancer diagnosis to assault DeGeneres.

“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 said during the interview. “He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time.”

Manipulation is a common tool perpetrators use to assault survivors. According to RAINN, perpetrators often use their position of power as a parent, teacher or other trusted adult to intimidate or coerce young people into sexual abuse. An abuser may also convince a child or adolescent the behavior is normal or nothing to worry about. It’s often difficult at first to realize what’s happening, and it’s never your fault if you have survived abuse or 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,” DeGeneres said. “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.”

DeGeneres shared as the assault evolved, her ex-stepfather tried to break down her door. She escaped through her bedroom window to avoid further abuse. A few years later, DeGeneres said she told her mom, who didn’t believe her and stayed married for 18 more years. While DeGeneres said her mom is now apologetic, she also told Letterman, “I wish I would have been better taken care of. I wish she would have believed me.”

The talk show host added she felt it was important to speak up and share her story because it’s one powerful way survivors can start to reclaim the narrative. She told Letterman:

We [women] just 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. 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.

The second season of Letterman’s talk show, which includes DeGeneres’ episode, debuts on Netflix on Friday, May 31.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Toglenn

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