Miami, Sep 30 (EFE).- Singer Gloria Estefan revealed Thursday that when she was 9 years old she was sexually abused by a male relative, someone who had a music school and whom her mother trusted.
In a chat she had with her niece Lili Estefan and her daughter Emily Estefan during an episode of “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” which airs on Facebook Watch, the singer-songwriter discussed the traumatic experience, known only to certain members of her family.
“He was family, but not close family. He was in a position of power because my mother had put me in his music school and he immediately started telling her how talented I was and how I needed special attention, and she felt lucky that he was focusing this kind of attention on me,” the singer said.
She said that her abuser, whom she did not name, started abusing her gradually but then things began progressing quite rapidly and she confronted him, realizing thereafter that she – and perhaps her mother – were potentially in danger of further physical harm.
“I told him, ‘This cannot happen, you cannot do this.’ He goes: ‘Your father’s in Vietnam, your mother’s alone and I will kill her if you tell her,'” the performer said.
“And I knew it was crazy, because at no point did I ever think that it was because of me that this was happening. I knew the man was insane and that’s why I thought he might actually hurt my mother,” the Cuban-American pop icon said.
She said that her mother did not suspect what was happening because, among other things, things like this were not discussed at that time, adding that her hair started to fall out as a result of the anxiety and stress until one morning at 3 am she decided to tell her mother.
“Then the police came,” she said, “and they told my mother not to press charges because they said that I was going to go through worse trauma having to get on a stand and testify. And that’s the one thing that I feel bad about, knowing that there must’ve been other victims.”
She also said an aunt later told her mother that she had been abused by the man years before in Cuba.
The three-time Grammy winner said that when her song “Conga” became her first big hit, her abuser wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing her music, adding that at first she was furious and was going to make the whole thing public but then she realized that the attention from her success would then morph into attention paid to her abuser and she decided to stay quiet.
On the same episode of the show, Clare Crawley, who stars on “The Bachelor” on ABC, also discussed her own sexual abuse by a Catholic priest while she was in first grade.
Estefan said that 93 percent of abused children know and trust their abusers, adding that she was one of those children.
The singer had not alerted the producers of the show in advance that she intended to discuss her sexual abuse, saying that she wanted to confront and touch on this issue because by talking about it we can help to prevent similar abuse from happening to others.