In an interview appearing in Vanity Fair magazine, Hatcher said she told prosecutors about her abuse in 2002 because she was haunted by thoughts of the
14-year-old girl who shot herself and feared that her uncle might escape conviction.
"I was just blown over by this girl's pain," the 41-year-old television star told Vanity Fair, recalling she learnt about the case from newspaper clippings.
"I thought, 'Boy, that's really close to being me.' Any day of the week, I could feel that sort of pain. I haven't tried to kill myself, but I've certainly thought about it, and then I feel guilty about thinking about it, because what's so terrible about my life?"
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Chuck Gillingham credits Hatcher for putting her uncle, Richard Hayes Stone, who was then 64, behind bars.
"Without Teri, this case would have been dismissed," he told the magazine, explaining that Hatcher's account provided key corroborating evidence to establish a pattern of behaviour.
Stone, who was married to Hatcher's mother's sister when she was a girl, pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation in December 2002 and was sentenced to 14 years in prison after Hatcher agreed to testify against him.
"He pleaded guilty, and even though it wasn't to my crime, it was because of my crime, and that made me feel validated," the television star told the magazine.
"That's a victim thing; you ask yourself, 'Am I just crazy? Did I make all this up?' 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," she said.
Hatcher initially kept her involvement in the case, which never went to trial, a closely guarded secret, declining to include the experience in her upcoming book "Burnt Toast," in part because she worried it might harm her career.
"But I'm 41 years old, and it's time for me to stop hiding," she said.
Hatcher is best known for her TV role as the disaster-prone Susan Mayer on ABC's hit show "Desperate Housewives." She previously co-starred as Lois Lane on the 1990s TV drama "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."
In the interview, Hatcher recalled in chilling detail how she was sexually molested by Stone starting at age 5, when she and her parents lived in Sunnyvale, California, and the conflicted emotions of feeling both special and ashamed.
"The most horrible thing, that has stuck with me all my life, is that he was touching me and doing things to me, and he said, 'Doesn't that feel good?' (And) I said, 'No, it doesn't.' He said, 'Well, someday you'll know what I'm talking about.'"
Hatcher said that going to prosecutors four years ago, she never told anyone of her own ordeal, not even her parents. She said last saw Stone when she was 8 or 9.