Published April 17, 2012
Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba is sharing his emotional story of childhood abuse for the first time. Ashba says he was physically and mentally abused by his father from a very young age.
“It has been hard for me as it’s something I have blocked out my whole life… I moved out when I was 16, and I never looked back,” Ashba told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column exclusively. “But if I can help just one person who is being bullied, then this is worth it. It is such an important topic, and it stays with you.”
Ashba is embracing a new role apart from his famous rock band as the new spokesperson for the anti-bullying website, BULLYVILLE.com. “I had to get involved,” he told us. “I don’t get involved in things unless I believe in them 100 percent.”
In a lengthy personal account to be posted on the website, Ashba details his earliest memories being “petrified” not only for his own safety, but for his mother’s too, as “every moment of every day” would depend on his dad’s mood.
“Instead of a hug and a kiss, my morning wakeup call consisted of my dad’s fist coming through my closet door, similar to Jack Nicholson in the ‘Shining.’ The craziest part about all of this is I spent my youth years constantly trying to gain his respect,” Ashba wrote. “I even went as far as to put him on a pedestal, making him out to be some kind of hero in my undeveloped mind, just to have him beat me down time after time.”
But the real hero, Ashba says, was his mother.
“Looking back now realizing how she risked her own safety for my wellbeing. She was the real war hero, fearlessly putting herself in the line of fire,” he continued. “The fear was so overwhelming that I would literally pee my pants.”
Ashba tells of the time he spent “hiding in the back of the closet, going into convulsions as if I were somehow dancing to the destructive sound,” and reflects on the time he was about three years old, and tumbled down the stairs, crying, into the room where dad sat in front of the fireplace.
“Stockings hung from the mantle and lights shone bright through the greenery,” he recalled. “My dad stood up from the couch and sternly commanded that men don’t cry. He said, ‘you want to be a little cry baby, I’ll give you something to cry about,’ as he beat me.”
Ashba said he has used his tumultuous past as motivation to be the best person he could be and, saying that despite everything, he has come to forgive his dad.
“I don’t hate him, I don’t wish anything bad on him – nobody gives you a handbook on how to be a father,” Ashba added. “I don’t know what to expect (from him) now that I have told my story, and I don’t really care. This time it is about me, not him.”
A source close to Ashba says he and his estranged father have recently started texting once in a while to work towards resolving their differences, and that the father has come to see him at performances.
Ashba’s father could not be reached for comment, but his current wife, reached on the phone, denied any knowledge of him having abused his son.
Ashba says that while he is working to mend family fences,“Anger sort of fuels the fire that keeps me going inside, and in a way, success today really comes from seeking approval that I never got when I was little. But no matter how big or successful you become, there is always a hole in your heart.
“I’m lucky that I am in a position where I have a voice, I can step up and bring awareness, and I wanted to share my story and be a spokesperson for Bullyville because it provides an online community and a place for people getting bullied to get help and understand they aren’t alone… But this is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.”
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.