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Ellen DeGeneres Says Stepfather Sexually Abused Her as a Teen

During her appearance on David Letterman’s show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Ellen DeGeneres shared that her stepfather sexually abused her as a teenager. DeGeneres said her mother married “a very bad man,” who would grope her and once tried to break into her room, leading her to climb out a window in order to escape. According to DeGeneres, her stepfather used her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis as an excuse to grope her. “He told me... that he’d felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breasts,” she said on Letterman’s show, which is set to premiere Friday on Netflix. “He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time.”

DeGeneres said she didn’t tell her mother at the time because she didn’t want to “ruin her happiness.” Now she says she is sharing her story in an effort to empower other sexual-assault survivors to come forward. “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,” she said. “That’s the only reason I think it’s important to talk about it... When I see people speaking out... it angers me when victims aren’t believed, because we just don’t make stuff up.”