01/10/2012 03:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Reveals Childhood Abuse In Interview With CBS2 (VIDEO)

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa revealed a painful childhood secret in an interview with CBS2 on Monday.

Villaraigosa, who has long been an advocate for victims of domestic violence, told CBS2 that some of his earliest memories include hiding under the bed with his little sister while his father was attacking his mother. "We had to witness the terror that comes with watching your mom getting beat," said Villaraigosa.

Though he was under five years old when the abuse would happen, he had always harbored a feelings of guilt that he wasn't able to protect his mother from violence. "Deep inside was this feeling of helplessness, that I kind of failed her," Villaraigosa said.

He's coming forward in memory of his mother, who passed away in 1991. Villaraigosa credits her willingness be open about the abuse as the reason his family survived those violent years. After his father walked away from the family, Villaraigosa's mother was also instrumental in helping her children succeed and thrive.

The mayor has a message for anyone who may be suffering from domestic abuse: ""Stop hiding ... We should all be willing to put a light on the dark things that happen in our lives."

Watch a clip of the interview below, and for the full story, go to CBS2's exclusive interview.