Gloria Estefan has revealed that she was sexually abused when she was nine by someone her mother trusted.
The 64-year-old Cuban-American singer spoke publicly about the abuse for the first time during a spin-off episode of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk on Thursday (30 September).
Estefan said she was nine years old when the incident took place, and that her abuser 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,” she said.
The Grammy winner’s daughter Emily, who was co-hosting the show, asked her mother: “Was there one particular moment like, ‘Oh, I don’t like this energy’?”
Estefan said that she was groomed by the teacher after he started praising her “little by little”.
By that time, she had understood that what was happening was inappropriate and tried to refuse her teacher’s advances but he threatened her, she said.
“I knew that this was a very dangerous situation, and when I revolted and I told him ‘This cannot happen, you cannot do this’, he goes: ‘Your father is in Vietnam, your mother’s alone and I will kill her if you tell her’,” Estefan said.
She revealed that she had tried every excuse possible to get out of the school. But one day, utterly stressed and anxious, she ran to her mother in the middle of the night and told her what was going on. Estefan’s mother then called the police.
However, authorities told the singer’s mother not to press charges “because they said that I was going to go through worse trauma having to get on a stand”.
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“That’s the one thing I feel bad about, knowing that there must’ve been other victims,” Estefan added.
When Estefan grew up and released her hit single Conga in 1985, her abuser wrote a letter to a newspaper criticising her music, she said. “At that moment, I was so angry that I was about to blow the lid off of everything.”
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247, or visit their website here.
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