Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

She became one the biggest sex symbols of her generation, but Pamela Anderson survived a grueling childhood and adolescence of rape and abuse before finding fame. Now 46, the actress and activist appeared at a yacht reception on Friday, May 16, at the Cannes Film Festival to launch her self-titled foundation—dedicated to human rights, animal rights and the environment—and detailed the devastating abuse she suffered.

"I did not have an easy childhood. Despite loving parents, I was molested from age 6 to 10 by my female babysitter," the Baywatch alum revealed during a speech, the Associated Press reports. "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, who was visibly nervous during the address, according to the AP.

The future Playboy model and longtime animal rights advocate went on: "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."

Now married to third husband Rick Salomon and a mom to two teenaged sons (with first husband Tommy Lee), Anderson also detailed her rocky home life. "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," she said. "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 found a will to live not through Hollywood notoriety but via nature, she concluded. "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," Anderson's speech continued. "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."

Find out more about the Pamela Anderson Foundation at its website.