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Drugs, Affairs & Assault: Inside Ryan Gosling's Dark Family Secrets

Mar. 30 2017, Published 10:02 a.m. ET

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Ryan Gosling was deeply affected by his parents' nasty divorce battle and Canadian court papers obtained exclusively by Star, lay bare the depths of the family's despair.

The La La Land actor's dad Thomas and mom Donna each accused the other of mental and physical abuse and behavior that was psychologically damaging to their young children.

Claiming, among other things, that he once set the family home in his native Ontario on fire and had a penchant for throwing the cat in the dryer, Ryan has said he "felt like I was going crazy as a kid," and added: "There's something messed up with my brain."

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Sadly, it seems there's more fact than fanciful fiction behind Ryan's stories of his troubled upbringing.

He's described the effect of the contentious divorce, finalized in 1996, between his parents, Thomas and Donna Gosling, as "everything demolished" — and court papers from that divorce, obtained exclusively by Star, paint a grim picture of the hell Ryan, now 36, indeed was living through.

READ THE SHOCKING DIVORCE DOCUMENTS

Thomas, a paper mill worker, and Donna, a secretary, separated in February 1994 after 20 years of marriage and two children (Ryan's sister, Mandi, is 40).

Ryan had already been dealing with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder — and been prescribed the drug Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant, as treatment — when his parents split.

According to court documents, Thomas, who at one point in the proceedings claimed his wife was having an "affair", continued to live with Donna, Ryan and Mandi for three months — until he was forced to leave "as a result of physically assaulting Donna."

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Both parents were charged with assault after Thomas, in turn, accused Donna of attacking him. The documents also note Donna's claim that "Thomas' position was that he would make life miserable for her and the children."

Beyond typical battles over custody and support, the documents also reveal that Thomas believed Ryan, then 15, was "obligated" to repay him for the finances he provided to help his son establish a showbiz career, which, by this point, had included a stint as a Disney Mouseketeer, once Ryan was old enough to access his trust fund money.

The documents note that Donna believed that to be "the turning point" in Ryan's alienation from his father.

"Ryan was unable to deal with the gossips surrounding this court proceeding. His schoolmates...were approaching him and questioning whether or not it was true his father was suing him."

Thomas denied his wife's claims, and made one of his own. "Donna has turned my children against me," he stated — adding that Ryan had "torn up" letters he had forwarded to him.

For more on the family's bitter internal battles, pick up the latest issue of Star.

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