Ellen DeGeneres is publicly discussing the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her her stepfather, with the hope that she’ll empower teen victims to speak out.
“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” the talk-show host says on an upcoming episode of Netflix’s “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman.”
“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.”
The 61-year-old DeGeneres said she’s still angry at herself for not speaking up sooner.
“I was too weak to stand up to [him], I was 15 or 16,” DeGeneres told Letterman, according to the Los Angeles Times. “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 abuse, which DeGeneres first talked about in 2005, came after her mother, Betty DeGeneres, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her stepfather, who was “a very bad man,” she said, said he needed to feel her breasts to check for lumps, as he said he had done with her mother.
“He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time,” she said.
All of which finally led to something really scary: Her stepfather tried to break into her room.
“He tries to break my door down, and I kicked the window out and ran “cause I knew it was going to go more to something,” she said. “And I didn’t want to tell my mother because I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness.”
Women, she said, “just don’t feel like we’re worthy, or we’re scared to have a voice, and we’re scared to say no.”
DeGeneres’ episode of the in-depth interview series “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” starts streaming Friday, along with the rest of the show’s second season.
The other four guests this season are rapper Kanye West, actress-comic Tiffany Haddish, race-car driver Lewis Hamilton and philanthropist Melinda Gates.