Teri Hatcher, the actress best known for her role on Desperate Housewives, addressed the UN on Nov. 25 about sexual abuse that she suffered as a seven-year-old child at the hands of her uncle.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in New York was the setting for the Lois & Clark actress’ emotionally raw speech.
“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. I am one in three and I will be the one who yells from the rooftops until those numbers change. Until every woman who has faced abuse feels less alone and safe enough to find the courage to have her own voice. Until violence against women is no longer a part of any woman’s story, silence will not be a part of mine,” said the actress, who kept silent about the abuse until she was 18, when she finally told her parents.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) November 26, 2014
“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.”
— Yahoo Celebrity (@YahooCelebrity) November 28, 2014
“My mother and father had suspected something had happened, but they were just burdened by their own confusing anger and helplessness that they were paralyzed into their own silence,” she added.
The family kept their secret for another 20 years until an 11-year-old girl took her own life after being abused by Hatcher’s uncle, which led the actress to publicly reveal her secret.
“In a suicide note, she implicated my uncle, who had been sexually abusing her for years. I was shocked and devastated and overwhelmed by the idea that he had continued his abuse,” said the emotional actress.
By bringing hew own sexual abuse to light, Hatcher helped convict her uncle, who remained in prison until his death.
Like most victims of sexual abuse, Hatcher said, although she was relieved when her abuser was stopped, the scars remain.
“I am simply one of three women who is forced to accept violence as a part of their life story,” she said.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) November 25, 2014
Hatcher received a standing ovation for her heartfelt, brutally honest speech.
The conference had another goal — the launching of the Orange Your Neighborhood initiative, an initiative which was developed via the UNITE campaign by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
Hatcher’s speech was the kick off to the 16-day movement aimed at ending violence against women internationally.