Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher has revealed she was sexually abused by an uncle during her childhood.
Teri Hatcher has won awards for her Desperate Housewives role
Hatcher says she kept the attacks secret until 2002, when the 14-year-old victim in an abuse case against uncle Richard Hayes Stone committed suicide.
The actress told Vanity Fair magazine she helped prosecutors by corroborating evidence against her uncle.
Prosecutors say Stone pleaded guilty to four abuse counts after Hatcher got involved and was jailed for 14 years.
His guilty plea meant Hatcher was not called upon to give evidence in court.
Chuck Gillingham, deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County in California, said Hatcher's decision to testify had been instrumental in the conviction.
He said: "Without Teri, this case would have been dismissed."
Hatcher, 41, said she was aged five when Stone would manipulate situations so he could be alone to abuse her.
She said: "He pleaded guilty, and even though it wasn't to my crime, it was because of my crime, and that made me feel validated.
"These are haunting things that I've remembered all my life.
Desperate Housewives has been a hit in the US and on Channel 4
"Somehow it might be easier to accept that you're crazy and you made it all up than to admit that it happened, and how awful it was."
The actress had contemplated suicide because of the abuse and was shocked when she heard the victim had shot herself.
Hatcher told the magazine she had hesitated about getting involved in the case as she feared the media would suggest she was attempting to boost her profile, which was low at the time.
She said she kept her involvement in the case secret, even leaving it out of her forthcoming book, but felt it was "time for me to stop hiding".
Hatcher added that she had not seen Stone since she was aged nine and refused to tell her parents about the abuse, though she thought they suspected something had taken place.
Before playing Susan Mayer in Desperate Housewives, Hatcher played Lois Lane in the 1990s TV drama Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
She also had parts in the TV sitcoms Seinfeld and Frasier and appeared in the films Spy Kids and Tango and Cash.