The former Clueless star was raped by an ex as her son lay sleeping in his crib

By Aili Nahas
June 01, 2016 11:30 AM

Nearly 25 years have passed since Stacey Dash was brutally attacked by an ex-boyfriend, but the former Clueless star and Fox News contributor still shudders at the memory.

“I didn’t feel like I was a person,” Dash tells PEOPLE exclusively of the years she was physically abused by a boyfriend. “I was so starving for love, that I held on. Some of the time he took care of me, and I got [beaten up] in order to have those moments.”

After their split, Dash’s ex continued to stalk her, even as she became pregnant and then a single mother to another man’s child.

It was as her son Austin, now 25, lay sleeping in his crib, that Dash was raped by her abuser. “He had a gun to my head and I thought, ‘My son is in that crib right there,’ ” says Dash, 49. “[I thought], ‘No you are not going to do this. My son’s life was more important to me than my own.'”

[IMAGE “2” “” “std” ]• For exclusive photos and much more from Stacey Dash, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

When her attacker came back, Dash was ready, brandishing her gun and firing several shots at him, but she missed.

“I wanted to kill him,” recalls Dash, “but it scared him away.”

[IMAGE “1” “” “std” ]Now a staunch Republican, Dash explains why she feels so passionately about the right to bear arms.

“A gun saved my life,” she says. “That’s why my Second Amendment right will not be taken away from me.”