'I battled demons': Teri Hatcher recalls childhood sexual abuse by her uncle in open letter to Trump
Teri Hatcher wants President Trump to understand what it’s like to be a victim of sexual assault.
The Desperate Housewives and Lois & Clark actress, 53, recounted the first time she was victimized — at age 5 by an uncle, Richard Hayes Stone, in a car — in an open letter to the president that she shared on social media. She explained what she remembered about the assault in great detail — what he said, what he did, what she saw, what position she was in, how she felt during it — and then went on to detail what she didn’t remember as a clear message to the man who mocked Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford at a Mississippi rally on Tuesday.
Mr. President @realDonaldTrump, I’d like to take this opportunity to weigh in on the process of recalling a sexual assault. #metoo #believe #survivor
A post shared by Teri Hatcher (@officialterihatcher) on Oct 3, 2018 at 3:28pm PDT
“Here’s what I DO NOT remember,” Hatcher wrote. “The address of where it happened. How I got there. How I got home. What day or month it was. If anyone was drinking beer.”
Hatcher wasn’t assaulted only once — she was abused for several years in the 1960s and early ’70s, seeing Stone, who was married to her mother’s sister, for the last time when she was 8 or 9. “Sadly, myself and then decades later, teenager Sarah Van Cleemput, were abused by the same man. She committed suicide. I battled demons.”
Hatcher ended the post by writing: “Mr. President, I am a survivor, who stands available to help you understand the way the memories of a trauma like that work. It might be hard for you to understand. I can readily explain in detail that ‘I don’t remember’ is often the most honest response surrounding questions of an assault. It does NOT mean it didn’t happen. Please do not add ‘Mocked by President’ to the injury list of a sexual survivor. It’s just plain wrong.”
What Hatcher didn’t note in her post was that she bravely helped convict Stone, who died in prison in 2008 at the age of 70. When Cleemput died by suicide in 2002, she left a note incriminating Stone, who was a family friend. After seeing the story in a newspaper when she was visiting her parents, Hatcher contacted prosecutors to say that Stone had molested her too.
Hatcher’s telling her story of abuse was key in getting the 2002 conviction. (Prosecutors had doubts before because Stone’s other alleged victims, three other girls, wouldn’t speak to authorities. After being presented with a transcript of Hatcher’s account, he pleaded guilty in 2002, leaving no need for a trial or a court appearance for Hatcher.) She broke her silence to the media about it in an emotional interview with Vanity Fair in 2006. She openly discussed how complicated childhood assault can be. She said that she didn’t tell anyone as a child, so it went on for years until Stone came to visit when she was 8 or 9 and she had an emotional outburst. While her mom sensed something wasn’t right and removed Hatcher from the situation (she never saw her uncle or aunt again), the abuse wasn’t discussed. “My parents are really well intended, and I think their way of dealing with things is denial and guilt,” she said. “Nobody wanted to talk about it. But all I did was blame myself.”
Hatcher talked about the added trauma of coming forward to prosecutors as someone who was in the limelight — she feared that tabloids would smear her name and paint her as a has-been actress. “At the end of the day, there was no way I was not going to put this girl first, before whatever damage might be done to me,” she told the magazine.
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