The Cannes Film Festival is usually characterized by glitz and glamour—but this year, part of the event took on a much more serious tone.
On Friday, Pamela Anderson revealed a dark history of sexual abuse at the launch of her charity, The Pamela Anderson Foundation.
Speaking to approximately 200 festival guests, the "Baywatch" icon explained that, "despite loving parents" she "did not have an easy childhood." Recalling her father's struggles with alcohol and her mother "always crying," Anderson lamented, "My parents tried to keep me safe, but to me the world was not a safe place."
It seems the troubles began when the Canadian beauty was molested between the ages of 6 and 10 by a female babysitter. Then, when she was 12, Anderson was raped by a 25-year-old man.
"I went to a friend's boyfriend's house and his older brother decided to teach me backgammon, which led to a back massage, which led into rape — my first heterosexual experience. He was 25 years old and I was 12," she revealed.
But her painful experiences didn't end there. The longtime animal rights activist went on to tell the audience that her high-school boyfriend "decided it would be funny to gang-rape me with six friends." Anderson added, "I wanted off this earth."
She explained that her love for animals provided her with some solace from her trauma.
"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," she stated. "My loyalty remained with the animal kingdom. I vowed to protect them and only them. I prayed to the whales with my feet in the ocean, my only real friends until I had children."
Now, however, she seems to be expanding her vision beyond the animal kingdom. According to The Pamela Anderson Foundation's mission statement, it "supports organizations and individuals on the front lines of protecting the environment, animal rights and human rights."
Though Anderson clearly felt very alone at times in her childhood, now she seems to have a strong support group. Both her husband Rick Salomon (whom she previously married and divorced before they reunited) and her son Brandon (from her marriage to Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee) attended the launch event.
Anderson's reveal was no doubt difficult to do, but it was a powerful first step toward creating the change she hopes to see in the world.