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Ellen DeGeneres shares “horrible” story of teenage abuse because not enough women are believed

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Megan Murray
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Ellen DeGeneres has shared her experiences of sexual abuse as a teenager, speaking on Netflix’s TV series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman.

Ellen DeGeneres is one of those celebrities who nearly everyone has a soft spot for. Yes, she’s hilarious, charming and is best friends with everyone from Jennifer Anniston to Pamela Anderson. But she also strives to use her platform to connect with audiences, often by speaking about very personal, sensitive and painful topics.

DeGeneres previously opened up about some of the difficult experiences she’s had as a gay woman, and for many she’s viewed as a role model and voice for the LGBTQ+ community. But now the US TV star has shared details of a deeply personal experience from her teenage years, in the hope young people going through something similar will have the confidence to come forward for help.

Speaking on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, DeGeneres explained that, while she was in her early teens, her mum, Betty DeGeneres, began dating someone whom she described as a “very bad man”.

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When she was 15 or 16, DeGeneres’ mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, something her partner used to pressure and manipulate DeGeneres into letting him feel her breasts.

“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,” Entertainment Tonight reports DeGeneres told Letterman in the second series of the show.

“Again, ‘cause I 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.”

Ellen DeGeneres sits on a couch talking to audience
Ellen DeGeneres has opened up a sexual assault

Describing the ordeal in further detail, DeGeneres continued: “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… and I didn’t want to tell my mother ‘cause I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness.”

DeGeneres went on to explain she was “too weak to stand up to [him]” at that age, and the reason she now wants to go into detail about this “horrible, horrible story” is so that other girls can recognise this behaviour is wrong and “not ever let someone do that.”

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DeGeneres hopes that other women and girls will be able to take some strength from her story and that it will contribute to how women are received when they speak out. 

The comedian said: “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.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with a story similar to Ellen DeGeneres’, then the NSPCC can help. If you are an adult concerned about a child, call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.  Children and young people can find help by calling Childline on 0800 1111

Images: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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