Pamela Anderson was suicidal after a string of harrowing early sexual abuse, but her love of animals healed her. Anderson, who has been an international sex symbol since 1989 after starring on "Baywatch," said her childhood was marred by sexual abuse starting from age 6.
"I did not have an easy childhood," Pamela revealed at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. "Despite loving parents, I was molested from ages 6 to 10 by a female babysitter."
Anderson made the shocking revelations while speaking on behalf of her charity, the Pamela Anderson Foundation, which supports animal rights, human rights, and environmental issues.
Raped at 12 and Gang-Raped at 14
At age 12, Anderson was raped while playing a board game at a friend's house. "I went to a friend's boyfriend's house," she recounted on her blog:
"While she was busy, the boyfriend's older brother decided he would teach me backgammon, which led into a back massage which led into rape - my first heterosexual experience," wrote Pamela. "He was 25 yrs old; I was 12.
"My first boyfriend in grade 9 decided it would be funny to gang rape me (with 6 of his friends). Needless to say, I had a hard time trusting humans - 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 was 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."
Love of Animals Saved Pam: 'That's Why I'm Vegan'
Anderson said her love of animals helped her heal after her traumatic early experiences. Pamela joins a long list of celebrities who suffered childhood sexual abuse, including Teri Hatcher, Anne Heche, Ashley Judd, Queen Latifah, Fiona Apple, Cheryl Burke and Oprah Winfrey.
"My affinity with animals saved me, they came to me naturally," said Anderson. "I wasn't sure why I was alive – a burning question, a quest. 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."
It's because of her love for animals that Anderson has maintained her lifelong vegan diet, which she also credited for her age-defying bikini body at 47.
The busty 5-foot-7 blonde weighs a sleek 115 pounds, thanks to her plant-based diet and active lifestyle. Anderson became a vegetarian in her teens after seeing her father clean an animal he had killed during a hunt.
Credits Vegan Diet for Hot 115-Pound Bikini Body
In November 2013, Anderson completed the New York City Marathon to raise money for charity. Pamela followed a vegan diet and ran for six months to train for the 26.2-mile race. "Before, I've never even run across the street," she said.
The fit mom of two teenage sons, Brandon and Dylan, said she consumes lots of green juices, smoothies, vegetables, brown rice and quinoa. “My refrigerator is full of kale and greens,” she said. “I can’t imagine something greasy, or eating meat.”
Over the years, Anderson has done a lot of activist work on behalf of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). While Anderson isn't a workout fanatic like she was during her 20s, the former fitness instructor is active every day, and credited her vegan diet for helping her manage Hepatitis C, a condition she has had since 2002.
"I have Hepatitis C and I feel great, which I think has a lot to do with my diet," she said. "I feel better [following a vegan diet]. I always feel healthy."
Celebrities Embrace Vegan Diet
Anderson join a long list of celebrity vegans, including Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Jared Leto, who at 42 still looks 25. They have all credited the plant-based diet for giving them more energy, helping them lose weight, and staying youthful-looking,
Experiencing easy weight loss and improved health on a vegan diet isn't surprising to medical experts like Dr. Joel Fuhrman. “The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose,” said Fuhrman, author of The End of Dieting.
Dr. David Katz, author of Disease-Proof, agrees. “If you shift to a diet more about plant-based foods, you are likelier to live healthier and experience less chronic disease," said Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.