CANNES, France (AP) -- Pamela Anderson has previously talked about being a survivor of rape, but in an emotional speech for her new charity, she credits animals with helping her survive years of abuse at the hands of others.
Anderson was in Cannes to launch the Pamela Anderson Foundation, dedicated to boosting human rights, helping animals and the environment. At a yacht reception to inaugurate the charity, the actress went into detail about sexual assaults she says she endured from a young age.
"I did not have an easy childhood. Despite loving parents, I was molested from age 6 to 10 by my female babysitter. I went to a friend's boyfriend's house and when she was busy the boyfriend's older brother decided he would teach me backgammon which led in to a back massage, which led in to rape. My first heterosexual experience. He was 25 years old, I was 12," said Anderson, reading nervously from a sheet of paper at Friday evening's event.
The assaults didn't end there, she said: "My first boyfriend in grade nine decided it would be funny to gang rape me with six of his friends. Needless to say I had a hard time trusting humans and I just wanted off this earth."
"My parents tried to keep me safe. But to me the world was not?a safe place. My dad an alcoholic, my mom worked two jobs waitressing. My mom was always crying, dad didn't always come home, leaving us in tremendous pain and worry. I couldn't bear to give her more disruptive information so I couldn't break her heart any more than it was breaking," she added.
She credits animals and nature for giving her hope to live.
"My affinity with animals saved me, they came to me naturally. The trees spoke to me, I wasn't sure why I was alive, a burning question, a quest. My loyalty remains with the animal kingdom. I vowed to protect them and only them," she said. "I prayed to whales with my feet in the ocean, my only real friends until I had children. Then I realized humanity was suffering and our children were born perfect."
The Pamela Anderson Foundation's mission is to provide funding for groups and individuals "on the front lines of human rights, animal rights and environmental protection," according to its mission statement.