Ellen DeGeneres' mother, Betty, reacts to initially not believing her daughter was sexually assaulted

Betty DeGeneres is speaking out for the first time after her daughter, Ellen DeGeneres, recently went into great detail about being sexually assaulted when she was a teenager. 

During an interview with David Letterman for his Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David LettermanEllen said her mother did not initially believe her when she told her that her stepfather had sexually assaulted her on several occasions. 

On Friday, Betty released a statement that was read on the Today show, expressing regret over not initially believing her daughter. "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," she said. "I live with that regret, and I wouldn’t want that for any other parent."

Betty, 89, concluded, "If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them."

In her interview with Letterman, Ellen recalled that just after her mother divorced her father and remarried, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had one of her breasts removed. Ellen said her mom's then-husband used this information to sexually assault her on several different occasions.

"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," she told Letterman. "...He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time."

The 61-year-old TV personality didn't tell her mother about what her stepfather had done until a few years later, but her mom did not believe her. Ellen said Betty stayed married to the man for 18 more years, but finally left him because he kept changing his story.

As for how her relationship with her mother -- who has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on multiple occasions -- is now, she confessed, "I always have taken care of her my whole life. So I just kept taking care of her. I didn’t really let it get to me. Until recently, I kind of went, 'I wish I would have been better taken care of. I wish she would have believed me.' And she’s apologetic, but, you know…"

Ellen hopes her story helps other victims of sexual assault come forward. "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," she said. "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. When I see people speaking out, especially now, it angers me when victims aren’t believed, because we just don’t make stuff up. And I like men, but there are so many men that get away with so much."

Ellen added, "It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power."

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Ellen Degeneres and mom Betty
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Ellen Degeneres and mom Betty
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 08: Betty DeGeneres (L) and actress Ellen DeGeneres attend The World Premiere of Disney-Pixars FINDING DORY on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21: TV personality Ellen DeGeneres and her mother, Betty DeGeneres attend the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
Actress Ellen DeGeneres and mother Betty De Generes pose at the ceremony honoring her with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Actress Ellen DeGeneres and mother Betty De Generes pose at the ceremony honoring her with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Talk show host Ellen Degeneres; mother Betty Degeneres and Los Angels Councilman Tom Labonge participate in the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star ceremony honoring Ellen Degeneres on September 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Portia de Rossi and Betty DeGeneres attend Ellen DeGeneres' induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: (L-R) Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres and Betty DeGeneres attend DeGeneres' induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Ellen DeGeneres and her mother Betty DeGeneres attend DeGeneres' induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 4, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Comedienne/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (L), with her mother Betty DeGeneres, is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Betty DeGeneres (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Betty DeGeneres (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Betty DeGeneres (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Jamie Foxx, Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres and Betty DeGeneres (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for Vanity Fair Magazine)
Portia de Rossi, Betty DeGeneres and Ellen DeGeneres (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage for Vanity Fair Magazine )
Ellen DeGeneres and mom Betty DeGeneres during 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and mom Betty DeGeneres during 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres (right) and mom, Betty during 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Red Carpet at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and mom Betty DeGeneres during 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and Mom Betty DeGeneres during 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Press Room at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and Mom Betty DeGeneres during 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Press Room at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Ellen DeGeneres and mom Betty DeGeneres during 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Press Room at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic)
11/23/98 Los Angeles, CA Ellen Degeneres and her mother Betty at the "LA Gay and Lesbian Center's 27th Anniversary."
CENTURY CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and mother Betty attend the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center's 27th Anniversary Gala on November 21, 1998 at Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
CENTURY CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and mother Betty attend the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center's 27th Anniversary Gala on November 21, 1998 at Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 13: Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and actress Anne Heche and Ellen's mother Betty attend the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1998 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
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