By SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS
NEW YORK (AP) – Gloria Estefan has revealed that at the age of 9, she was sexually assaulted by someone her mother trusted.
The Cuban-American superstar first spoke publicly about the abuse and its effects on her during an episode of the Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” airing Thursday.
“He was part of the family, but not close family. He was in a position of power because my mom put me in her music school and he immediately started telling her how talented I was and how much I needed special attention, and she felt lucky that he was focusing that kind of attention on me. said the singer.
Estefan, who was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with her family when she was little, revealed the abuse at the top of the show, which starred Clare Crawley, the first Latina “Bachelorette”. In the episode titled “Betrayed by Trusted Adults,” Crawley spoke of the child abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest.
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse unless they agree to be named or share their stories publicly.
Sitting at the red round table with her co-hosts – her daughter Emily Estefan and her niece Lili Estefan – Estefan opened by saying that “93% of abused children know and trust their abusers, and I know that, because I was one of them.
“You’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” his niece told him.
“I have it,” Estefan replied.
The three were holding hands with tears in their eyes.
She did not name her attacker but described how she tried to stop him. She said the abuse started bit by bit before going fast and that she knew she was in a dangerous situation after confronting him.
“I told him, ‘This can’t happen, you can’t do this.’ He said: ‘Your father is in Vietnam, your mother is alone and I will kill her if you tell her,’ ”Estefan said. “And I knew it was crazy, because at no point did I think it was because of me that this was happening. I knew the man was crazy and that’s why I thought he might actually hurt my mom.
Estefan said she started making excuses to avoid going to music lessons. Her daughter Emily asked if her grandmother had any idea that something was going on. People weren’t talking about these things back then, Estefan replied.
She tried to reach her father, with whom she exchanged voice tapes while he was stationed in Vietnam.
Spanish recordings of Estefan’s age 9 were shown on the show with English subtitles:
Gloria: “I take guitar lessons. I like them but the exercises are a bit hard.
Her father: “Mom told me that the owner of the academy where you take your guitar lessons is very proud of you.
Gloria: “I like notes, but studying notes is a bit boring.”
Her father: “Mom tells me he said you are a born artist.”
Estefan said the anxiety level caused him to lose a “hair circle”.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said, so one night she ran to her mother’s room at 3 am and told her what was going on.
Her mother called the police, but the officers advised her not to press charges because the trauma caused by the testimony would be too damaging.
Crawley and Estefan both said on the show that they don’t like being called victims. Crawley called herself a survivor.
Estefan said she didn’t tell producers she was going to reveal her story in Thursday’s episode. No one was aware of the abuse except her family, said the singer, who has been married to music producer Emilio Estefan for more than four decades.
She also said that when her mother started inquiring about this man in the family, an aunt said he had abused her years before in Cuba.
The Associated Press asked the show’s publicist if Estefan could answer some questions, including whether the man was still alive. The publicist told the AP she would not comment further.
On “Red Table Talk,” Estefan recalled almost going public in the mid-1980s, when his hit “Conga” with the Miami Sound Machine was topping the Billboard charts and “That Predator, who was a member. respected by the community ”, had the audacity to write a letter to a newspaper criticizing his music.
“At that point, I was so angry that I was about to blow everything up,” she said. “And then I thought, ‘All of my success is going to turn into him!
“It’s manipulation and control, but that’s what they do, they take your power,” she added, also admitting that the fear that there might be other victims lays it down. makes you feel bad.
After introducing Crawley and telling him that she didn’t want to sit still while she shared her story, Estefan said she was waiting for the right opportunity and space to tell hers.
The spectacle was that space.
“This is one of the reasons I said yes to the ‘Table (Red) (Talking)’, because we wanted to create that space where we talk about important things that will hopefully make a difference. for anyone watching out there. “
Sigal Ratner-Arias is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.