Ellen DeGeneres mother Betty DeGeneres has said she regrets not believing that her talk-show host daughter was sexually abused.
DeGeneres’ 89-year-old mother responded to claims made this week by Ellen that she was sexually abused by her stepfather.
In a statement released to NBC News, Betty said: “I know now that one of the hardest things to do is speak up after being sexually abused.
“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.”
The comments come just days after Ellen DeGeneres revealed in Netflix’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman that she was sexually abused by her stepfather.
DeGeneres said the abuse occurred after her mother married “a very bad man.”
“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,” an emotional DeGeneres told the host. “He needed to feel mine.
– Betty DeGeneres on sexual abuse claims
“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.”
DeGeneres said she initially didn’t tell her mother as she didn’t want to “ruin her happiness,” but she did later tell her.
“She didn’t believe me and stayed with him for 18 more years. Finally, [she] left him because he’d changed the story so many times.”
During the interview, DeGeneres said she had decided to speak publicly about the abuse as she wanted to encourage others to speak up.
“It’s a really horrible, horrible story,” she said. “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.
“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.
“It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power.”