updated 05/18/2014 AT 4:15 PM ET
•originally published 05/18/2014 AT 12:40 PM ET
Pamela Anderson made a shocking – and heartbreaking – revelation on Friday: She is a victim of sexual abuse.
Addressing the audience at the launch of The Pamela Anderson Foundation, an advocacy for animal rights, the actress surprised the crowd of 200 guests when she took the mic and opened up about her painful past, beginning with being molested as a little girl.
“I did not have an easy childhood. Despite loving parents, I was molested from age six by a female babysitter,” Anderson, 46, said at the Cannes Film Festival event, which she attended with husband Rick Salomon, according to the Daily Mail.
Six years later, the former Baywatch star had her first “heterosexual experience” when a board game with an acquaintance turned into a horrific ordeal.
“I went to a friend’s boyfriend’s house and his older brother decided to teach me backgammon, which led into a back massage, which led into rape,” she said. “He was 25 years old and I was 12.”
After a boyfriend “decided it would be funny to gang-rape me with six friends,” Anderson admitted she “wanted off this earth,” reports Radar Online – until her love of animals helped her heal.
“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 said. “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.”
A rep for the star tells PEOPLE: “We’re not commenting any further regarding Pam’s speech at Cannes.”