On the latest episode of her Facebook watch series Red Table Talk: The Estefans, Gloria Estefan has revealed that she was sexually abused by a family member at the age of nine.
“I knew one day I would share this story,” Gloria said. “I was waiting for the right opportunity and space to do so.”
Gloria began her revelation by stating, “Ninety-three percent of abused children know and trust their abusers. And I know this because I was one of them.” She then explained that she used to attend a music school run by a distant relative who her mother trusted.
“He immediately started telling [my mom] how talented I was, and how I needed special attention, and she felt lucky that he was focusing this kind of attention on me,” Gloria said, adding, “It starts little by little and then it goes fast.”
When Gloria tried to stop the abuse, she says the man told her, “Your father’s in Vietnam, your mother’s alone, and I will kill her if you tell her.”
She continued, “I knew the man was insane and that’s why I thought he might actually hurt my mother.” But finally, Gloria said, she broke down and told her mother the truth. But when her mom called the police, they advised her not to take action.
“They told my mother not to press charges because they said I was going to go through worse trauma having to get on a stand and testify,” she said. “And that’s the one thing that I feel bad about, knowing that there must have been other victims.”
It turns out there was at least one: Gloria’s own aunt, who had been abused as a child by the same man in Cuba.
Gloria said that years later, after she had her first big hit with “Conga,” the same man “wrote a letter to the paper criticizing my music.”
“At that moment, I was so angry that I was about to blow the lid off of everything, and then I thought, ‘My whole success is going to turn into him,"” she recalled. “That’s what they do, they take your power.”
In the episode, Gloria and her family also talk to Clare Crawley, the first Latina Bachelorette, about Crawley’s abuse as a child at the hands of a priest.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, know that you are not alone. Call 800-656-HOPE or Visit rainn.org for free, confidential, 24/7 support.
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