Teri Hatcher addressed a United Nations event commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Tuesday, and divulged the horrors of her own experience with sexual abuse. The Desperate Housewives star was abused by an uncle when she was a little girl–just seven years old. Although that abuse stopped around the time she was eight or nine years old, it haunted her throughout her life.
“I was convinced it was my fault and I blamed myself for what had happened, so I didn’t tell anyone and I was silent,” Hatcher said. “I did, however, unsurprisingly, start to act out and my mother decided to keep me away from my uncle. I didn’t see him anymore, but no one in my family ever asked exactly what happened. We remained silent.”
Teri Hatcher explained how later, when she learned that she hadn’t been the only one abused by this same man, she approached a district attorney about her uncle, Richard Hayes Stone. One of his victims committed suicide years after his sexual abuse. That no doubt affected the actress profoundly.
— Teri Hatcher (@HatchingChange) November 25, 2014
“I was helping my parents pack up my childhood home and I came across a current newspaper article about a beautiful 11-year-old girl named Sarah from my hometown,” Hatcher said. “The story recounted how she had wrapped her head in a towel in order to avoid making a mess and shot herself in the head. Her reason? In a suicide note, she implicated my uncle, who had been sexually abusing her for years.”
Richard Hayes Stone was eventually sentenced to 14 years in prison. That seems like a light sentence for a man who essentially robbed several little girls–one of them Teri Hatcher–of their childhoods. He robbed one of her life.
Hatcher first spoke out about her childhood sexual abuse back in 2006. She has since been active in raising awareness and in seeking to prevent such atrocities from happening. On Monday, Teri helped light the Empire State Building orange in honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“I am simply one in three women who is forced to accept violence as part of their life story,” Hatcher said on Tuesday. “I am one of three women who for the rest of her life battles the voice in her head that accepts blame for abuse, a voice that is antithetical to self-esteem, self-worth, and happiness. This is a statistic that has to change. One in three women can no longer have to face a stigma and a fear that prevent them from seeking help.”
Check out Teri Hatcher’s speech in its entirety.
Kudos to Teri Hatcher and those like her, who have the strength to speak out about what was once deemed unspeakable. They give voices to those who suffered and hope for those who might one day find themselves in similar situations.