Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about her own experience as a survivor of sexual abuse to let other survivors know that they’re not alone. Speaking to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show, she started off by addressing the misconception that survivors of sexual assault must remember everything that happened to them.
“As a victim of sexual abuse, I am furious at people who don’t believe it and who say, ‘How do you not remember exactly what day it was?’” she said. “You don’t remember those things. What you remember is what happened to you, where you were, and how you feel. That’s what you remember.”
The talk show host then talked about how she dealt with the aftermath of her own abuse as a teenager. “And I was 15 years old. I’m not even going into the details—it doesn’t matter—but we are really vulnerable at that age, and we trust,” DeGeneres said. “And then when you are violated, you don’t know what to do and you don’t want to say anything, because first of all, you just start wondering, ‘How did this happen, how was I that stupid?’ All of these things you think you could have controlled and you can’t. I think anyone who’s gone through it and is watching this is so angry, because, you know, how dare you not believe us?”
Degeneres’ decision to speak about her sexual assault comes as members of the Senate prepare to send conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh—the Supreme Court Justice nominee accused of sexually assaulting California professor Christine Blasey Ford—to the highest court in the land.
“Imagine if Dr. Ford would have been that angry on the stand and would have talked back to somebody questioning her,” she continued, speaking about Ford’s testimony against Kavanaugh. “Women aren’t supposed to do that, but [Kavanaugh] can get away with it, because he was angry. She was angry, too, but she controlled herself and was hurt, but she’s not allowed to do that, because we’re not allowed to do that.”
DeGeneres went on to President Donald Trump’s attack of Ford at a recent rally, during which he mocked her testimony about her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
“I don’t like to talk about him,” DeGeneres said. “This is not political. This really isn’t. It’s got nothing to do with being Republican or Democrat or anything. It’s just about respect and someone who is the leader of our country who is mocking someone who was abused. You don’t do that. You don’t mock somebody.”
“If anything, before I stop doing this show someday, I hope that I’m empowering women,” she added. “We just have to not be quiet anymore.”