(Edge) For the first time, Ellen DeGeneres's mother is speaking about her daughter's sexual abuse at the hands of her step-father when she was a teenager.
"I know now that one of the hardest things to do is to speak up after being sexually abused," Betty DeGeneres said in a statement to NBC news. "I love my daughter, and I wish I had the capacity to listen to her when she told me what happened. I live with that regret, and I wouldn't want that for any other parent. If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them."
Ellen first revealed the story of her sexual assault in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the "Today" Show in October. She didn't speak on the details, however, but she opened up in an episode of "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction," a David Letterman's Netflix series that debuts Friday. On the show, she revealed that her stepfather had abused her when she was 15. Her mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. He then took advantage of that tragic situation to sexually assault Ellen. News site Page Six has transcribed some of that interview:
"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," Ellen told Letterman.
She went on to speak about how the incidents affected her and why she chose to open up about them now.
"I'm angry at myself because, you know, I didn't — I was too weak to stand up to — I was 15 or 16," Ellen continued. "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."
Despite the trauma straining Ellen's relationship, they are still close. It seems Ellen and Betty hope telling her story will both encourage abuse victims to seek help, and the people around them to believe them.