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Ellen DeGeneres opens up to Savannah about being sexually abused as a teen

The talk show host told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie she hopes speaking out will empower women. "We just have to not be quiet anymore," she said.
/ Source: TODAY

Ellen DeGeneres said she’s “furious" over sexual assault victims like herself not being believed, and opened up about her own history of abuse.

"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 told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie in an interview. “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.”

DeGeneres previously shared her story during an episode of her show that aired Wednesday, which featured actress Busy Philipps, who opened up about being raped when she was 14. Both she and DeGeneres discussed how they were inspired by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who said Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school.

DeGeneres told TODAY the issue is a very personal one.

“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,” she 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.”

Ellen talks about sexual abuse
Ellen DeGeneres opens up about being a sexual abuse victim to Savannah Guthrie.TODAY

DeGeneres said any survivor of sexual assault who watched Ford testify, and then heard people doubt her story, can’t help but get emotional.

“Imagine if Dr. Ford would have been that angry on the stand and would have talked back to somebody questioning her. Women aren't supposed to do that, but he (Kavanaugh) can get away with it because he was angry,” she said. “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 said while she feels hopeful that more people are starting to become aware of the prevalence of sexual assault, she was troubled to see President Trump openly mock Ford during a rally earlier this week.

“I don't like to talk about him," she 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.”

She then paused and gave a nervous laugh.

“I'm angry. I'm sorry," she said, prompting applause from the audience.

DeGeneres said she feels it’s important to use her voice and show as a platform to make a difference.

"If anything, before I stop doing this show someday, I hope that I'm empowering women,” she said. “We just have to not be quiet anymore."

Savannah said that following the interview, DeGeneres addressed the audience. "She was in tears," the TODAY anchor said. "And she said, 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry to get emotional, but I felt I had to say something.'"

When it came to other topics, DeGeneres also talked about her feelings on fame, charity — and her tendency to buy and renovate homes.

“We buy a house and we love it and we stay in it and then we get a little bored, because we like a different style or a different aesthetic," she said. "I love furniture and I love decorating, so if I find something else and we make money, it turns out, why not move to another house?"

She joked that part of her love for houses and renovation may stem from growing up as a child who always lived in apartments because her family couldn’t afford to buy a house.

“We would look at houses every Sunday," she said. "We would go to open houses and we could never afford a house. As a kid I thought that was going to be my house. So now I just buy as many houses as I can."