Y&R's Melody Thomas Scott Says Motherhood Helped Her Heal After Surviving Childhood Abuse

"It gave me an opportunity to raise a child in a way that I was not raised," the actress tells PEOPLE

melody thomas scott
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Melody Thomas Scott survived years of abuse by her late grandmother and sexual assault at the hands of several men, but The Young and the Restless star says family and becoming a mother have been a huge part of her healing process.

"It gave me an opportunity to raise a child in a way that I was not raised," Scott, 64, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "That became very important to me."

The actress and her husband, former Y&R producer (and current Bold and the Beautiful producer) Edward Scott, are parents to daughter Elizabeth, 31.

Scott is also mom to daughter Alexandra, with late Y&R makeup artist Carlos Yeaggy, and Edwards has daughter Jennifer, from a previous marriage.

When raising their children, "There was a chance to correct so much that went wrong when I was a child," she says. "I intentionally chose the exact opposite of the decisions that were made for me. Now to watch them grow into beautiful women, with their own children I am so proud and happy."

Scott's new book, Always Young & Restless: My Life On and Off America's #1 Daytime Drama, details the abuse she suffered as a child — and how she's continuing to heal.

  • For more on Melody Thomas Scott, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

"I'm sure many people will be shocked to learn that I have that kind of background," she says. "They've seen me in their living room every day for 41 years, they believe I'm my character Nikki Newman and my life is perfect. But I think it will make it even more impactful for them to realize this kind of stuff can happen to anybody."

Scott adds: "There is no easy fix, but I'm hoping my story opens the door for people."

The Young and the Restless returns with all-new episodes Monday on CBS.

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