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Corey Feldman on Being Pushed into Acting at Age 3: 'I Was Basically a Slave Child'

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Corey Feldman rose to fame as a child star and has been in the spotlight ever since, but it’s a life the actor doesn’t want for his own son.

“I was basically a slave child,” Feldman tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I started working at 3 years old, and it wasn’t my choice.”

Issues began to build up within his family and at age 15, the star accused his parents of stealing nearly $1 million from him; soon after, he was granted emancipation by a judge. Feldman later revealed in his 2013 memoir, Coreyography, that his mother had abused him and force-fed him diet pills when he was a younger.

Aside from his public ordeals with his family, Feldman also revealed in the book that he and his best friend at the time, fellow child actor Corey Haim, had been sexually abused by people in Hollywood when they were young boys.

“I was [sexually] abused as a result of it, and I still deal with these issues,” Feldman says of having been a child actor. “It has been a very rough road for me.”

  • For much more from Feldman, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage
Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage
corey feldman performs on the Today Show

As a result of his childhood ordeals, Feldman keeps his son Zen, 12, away from the spotlight.

“I shelter him immensely from that whole world,” he says of Zen, whom Feldman shares with ex-wife Susie Sprague. “He doesn’t know about a lot of what I have lived through.”

“I have to be a positive influence on him, and I’ve got to stay strong for him,” he continues. “No matter how mean and awful people can be, I can’t let that affect me.”