“I know now that one of the hardest things to do is 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."
RadarOnline.com readers know Ellen, 61, detailed the sexual assault she endured at the hands of her mother’s husband, in an emotional talk with David Letterman for an episode of his Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. During the interview, she said she protected her mother by not telling her about the abuse for a long time, and when she finally did, Betty, 89, didn’t believe her.
Though Betty eventually left Ellen’s abuser and made up with her daughter, she still feels remorse for ignoring her claims.
"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,” said Betty in her statement.
Ellen said her mother’s husband at the time told her he needed to feel her breasts to check for cancer lumps. But after she let him do it once, he wouldn’t stop, and once even broke into her room, prompting her to escape through her window.
Ellen said that when she finally confronted Betty about it, her husband “said I was lying, and then she stayed with him.”
"So that made me really angry,” she told Letterman, 72.
The show host also said that she wishes she’d had the strength to stand up for herself rather than try to save her mother the pain.
"I should never have protected her. I should have protected myself," she said.