Ellen DeGeneres’ mother says she regrets not believing her daughter’s accusations of sexual abuse: ‘I wish I had the capacity to listen to her’

Betty and Ellen DeGeneres at the world premiere of

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Betty and Ellen DeGeneres at the world premiere of “Finding Dory” in 2016.
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Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

  • Ellen Degeneres’ mother, Betty, spoke out about her daughter’s experience with childhood sexual abuse.
  • “I love my daughter, and I wish I had the capacity to listen to her when she told me what happened,” she told NBC News. “I live with that regret, and I wouldn’t want that for any other parent.”
  • Ellen recently discussed her sexually abusive stepfather on an episode of David Letterman’s Netflix talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”
  • The comedian said her mother didn’t believe her accusations at the time and remained married to the man for 18 more years.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Ellen DeGeneres’ mother, Betty DeGeneres, broke her silence on Friday about her daughter’s claim that her stepfather molested her as a teen.

In a statement provided to NBC News, the 89-year-old activist said she regrets not believing Ellen’s accusations at the time.

“I know now that one of the hardest things to do is speak up after being sexually abused,” Betty said. “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.”

She added: “If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them.”

Read more: 8 ways to help survivors of sexual assault

Ellen DeGeneres on an episode of

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Ellen DeGeneres on an episode of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman.”
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Netflix

Although Ellen has discussed her experiences with sexual abuse in the past, her story has been in the news recently thanks to her appearance on David Letterman’s Netflix talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”

The comedian told Letterman that her mother didn’t believe her accusations for years.

“She didn’t believe me, and then she stayed with him for 18 more years. And finally left him because he’d changed the story so many times,” Ellen said on the new episode, which was made available to stream Friday morning.

In a 2005 interview with Allure magazine, DeGeneres said that the stepfather who abused her is now dead.