The Big Chill star Meg Tilly has written a new book about the horrible sexual and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of several male relatives and acquaintances throughout her youth.
The 46-year-old star turned her back on Hollywood in 1994 and moved to Canada to raise her family out of the spotlight.
She decided to write about her painful past in her new book, hoping that by her coming forward she could help others.
Tilly, whose sister is actress Jennifer Tilly, tells US publication People, "You spend the first part of your life - or at least I did - trying to fix things, but you realise that you're constantly choking on your own truth.
"I kept thinking there are other kids out there in these types of (abusive) situations. And I just don't want to carry secrets."
Tilly grew up in such grim poverty that she and her siblings were sometimes forced to catch and cook squirrels and snakes.
The actress says her stepfather was a paedophile with a sadistic streak and that he routinely beat her.
She recalls, "I remember the sounds of the belt coming through the loops. He'd whack you across the face. He'd whack you anywhere."
The situation didn't get much better when Tilly's mother split with her stepfather and moved the family in with a boyfriend she describes as "a monster" when she was 13.
She says, "He would all of a sudden pull out the butcher knife and decide you were all going to be killed."
Tilly credits her children for giving her the strength to go public with her harrowing ordeal adding, "When you have children, you ask them to tell the truth. How can you ask that if you don't do it yourself?"