Movie director and actor Tyler Perry has opened up about the sexual abuse he faced as a child - and shared how he got over being a child rape victim - "I don't think I ever felt safe as a child" he shared.

During a recent interview with PEOPLE, Perry recalls how when things got unbearable at home he would hide under the front porch of his house and let his imagination transport him to a world without fear. "I could escape and be somewhere else," he says.

According to the Hollywood producer, he was sexually abused by three different men and a woman, all family acquaintances, by the time he was ten years old. 

"It was rape," he says. "I didn't know what was going on or the far-reaching effects of it. I just moved through it," adding that he believed "Boys don't cry, shut up and move on."

After years of struggling with his dark childhood, Perry said he eventually came to forgive his alcoholic father.

"[It took] a tremendous amount of prayer. But the biggest thing that helped me understand it is that me holding on to what I was holding on to wasn't hurting him…but it was killing me," he said. "Once I let it go, I literally felt lighter inside."

Perry's cover story is featured in the Oct. 14 issue of PEOPLE.