Axl Rose on his abusive childhood:
How do you deal with knowing now?
It’s not about going, “Well, I can handle it, I’m a man.” And it’s not about going, “Well, I forgive them now.” You have to reexperience it and mourn what happened to you and grieve for yourself and nurture yourself and put yourself all back together. And it’s a very strange, long chain. Because you find out your mother and father had their problems, and their mother and father had problems, and it goes back through the ages.
How do you stop the cycle?
I don’t know. It’s finding some way to break the chain. I’m trying to fix myself and turn around and help others. You can’t really save anyone. You can support them, but they have to save themselves. You know, you can live your life the way you have and just accept it, or you can try to change it. My life still has its extremes and ups and downs, but it is a lot better because of this work. I’m very interested in getting involved with child-abuse organizations. There’s different methods of working with children, and I want to support the ones that I believe in.
Have you talked to anyone yet?
I’ve gone to one child-abuse center. When I went, the woman said that there was a little boy who wasn’t able to accept things that had happened to him and to deal with it, no matter how many children were around him who’d had the same problems. And apparently he saw something about me and childhood problems, and he said, “Well, Axl had problems, and he’s doing okay.” He started opening up, and he’s doing all right. And that’s more important to me than Guns n’ Roses, more important to me than anything I’ve done so far. Because I can relate to that more than anything. I’ve had such hatred for my father, for women, for…
Yeah. Myself. And it’s just made me crazy. I’m working on getting past those things, and the world doesn’t seem to be too tolerant of me doing that in public. It’s like “Oh, you got a problem? You go away and take care of it.” All these relatives knew little pieces of this puzzle, and nobody helped me with s**t. I’m angry about that. I can’t sit and think about Uncle So-and-So and enjoy it much. And if you’re talking with any of these people, they try to get you to just tolerate it and take things back to the way they were: “Let’s not get it public.” My family did everything they could, thinking they were doing what was right, to bury it all. My stepfather was just adamant that he was going to protect Mom and himself: “Your real father does not get brought up.” And he was also trying to cover his own tracks for what he did.
Why are you talking about this publicly?
One reason is for safety’s sake. My stepfather is one of the most dangerous human beings I’ve ever met. It’s very important that he’s not in my life anymore or in my sister’s. We may be able to forgive, but we can’t allow it to happen again. There’s a lot of reasons for me to talk about it publicly. Everybody wants to know “Why is Axl so f***ed up?” and where those things are coming from. There’s a really good chance that by going public I’m gonna get attacked. They’ll think I’m jumping on a bandwagon. But then it’s just gonna be obvious who’s an a*****e and who’s not. There are probably people that are jumping on a bandwagon. But I think it’s time. Things are changing, and things are coming out.
It’s only been in the last few years that people have really been talking about what constitutes abuse. I’m not talking about molestation but emotional abuse.
All parents are going to abuse their children in some way. You can’t be perfect. But you can help your child heal, if he’s able to talk to you. Then he can say, “You know, when I was five, I saw this.” I wear a shirt onstage sometimes that says, tell your kids the truth. People don’t really know what that’s about. Up until early this year, I was denied what happened to me, who I was, where I came from. I was denied my own existence, and I’ve been fighting for it ever since. Not that myself is the greatest thing on earth. But you have a right to fight for yourself.
If you don’t have a sense of your own identity, everything’s going to seem like a losing battle.
My growth was stopped at two years old. And when they talk about Axl Rose being a screaming two-year-old, they’re right. There’s a screaming two-year-old who’s real pissed off and hides and won’t show himself that often, even to me.Because I couldn’t protect him. And the world didn’t protect him. And women didn’t protect him and basically thought he should be put out of existence. A lot of people out there think so now. It’s a real strange thing to deal with on a consistent basis. I’m around a three-year-old baby now and then, and sometimes after a few days it’s just too overwhelming for me. My head is spinning because of the changes it’s putting me through.
Who do you want to be?
I guess I like who I am now. I’d like to have a little more internal peace. I’m sure everybody would.
By Kim Neely
April 2, 1992