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Ellen DeGeneres didn't speak about her sexual assault because girls are 'taught not to say anything'

‘Why did you wait so long?’

EMBOLDENED BY THE display of courage shown by Dr Christine Blasey Ford last week, actress Busy Philipps made the decision – after 25 years of staying silent – to reveal that she had been the victim of a rape at the age of 14.

Busy Philipps interview Source: PA Wire/PA Images

This week, the 39-year-old actress appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss the implications of Dr Blasey Ford’s testimony on the wider world.

When I saw her standing there, speaking her truth after 30 years, I was like, ‘It’s been 25 for me. I can do this. We can all do this’. I feel like it’s a real moment of reckoning for women, that we have sort of collectively carried this burden for so long. And it’s time to share it.

Moments after Busy lamented the number of women who have been victims of sexual violence, Ellen revealed that she too was assaulted as a teen.

People's Choice Awards 2017 - Press Room - Los Angeles Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

And just like Busy, Dr Ford’s testimony triggered feelings of anger, regret and frustration within Ellen.

I was 15 and I had something happen to me and when I watched Dr. Ford, anyone who’s had something happen to them, you just get so angry when someone doesn’t believe you or say, ‘Why did you wait so long?’

Offering an insight into the thought process of a victim in the aftermath of an assault, Ellen said the compulsion to stay silence is often born of gender-specific expectations.

It’s because we’re girls and we’re taught not to say anything and go along with it. So you at 14, me at 15, God knows how many people in this audience have had something happen to them.

DC: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

After asking the audience – out of range of the camera  – how many had been the victim of an assault, both Busy and Ellen expressed their regret at the show of hands, with Busy saying:

I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’m so sorry that it happened to all of us.

Ellen encouraged parents to instill a sense of confidence in their children that allows them to come forward if they find themselves a victim.

I think this conversation needs to happen more. And people need to teach your children to speak up and don’t ever keep something in and don’t ever be ashamed and think that it’s your problem or your fault.

Since Dr Ford’s testimony, Sarah Hyland and Jemima Kirke have also spoken out about their sexual assaults.

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Niamh McClelland

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