She may be one of the most iconic glamour models in the world, but Pamela Anderson hardly had an easy start to her incredible life. She has a history of sexual abuse, and yet becoming involved with Playboy turns out to be the best thing she ever could have done.

Pamela Anderson at the British Fashion AwardsPamela Anderson at the British Fashion Awards

The 50-year-old is more interested in her activism work with PETA and being a mother to her two sons these days, but she still has fond memories of her big break with Playboy in 1989 and becoming the magazine's Playmate of the Month.

'I was painfully shy as a child. As a young girl, Playboy empowered me', she told Us Magazine in an interview. 'It really saved my life. I felt very trapped inside and needed to free myself. It was a breakthrough for me, and there I met artists and activists and gentleman. It has been a fun and wild life.'

In the past she has spoken openly about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child and young woman, from being abused by her babysitter between ages 6 and 10, raped by an older man at 12 and being gang-raped by her boyfriend and his friends when she was 14.

'I was molested as a child by a bad female babysitter, who is no longer alive', she explained. 'And my first experiences with men were not consensual.'

But she has some advice for anyone going through similar traumas in their lives, which is essentially not to be afraid of doing some new or scary.

More: Pamela Anderson voices opinion on Hollywood sexual harassment

'I encourage everyone to be brave and step outside your comfort zone', she said. 'It's a springboard into the unknown. And when you can do this, you can really live. We've all had some kind of tragedy in our lives. We just have to remember that and be good to each other.'