The Cuban-American superstar first spoke publicly about the abuse and its effects on her during an episode of the Facebook Watch program “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” that aired on Thursday.
“He was family, but not close family. I was in a position of power because my mother had put me in his music school and he immediately started telling her how talented he was and that he needed special attention, and she was I felt lucky that he was focusing this kind of attention on me, “said the singer.
Estefan, who was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with her family as a young child, she revealed the abuse at the top of the show, which featured Clare Crawley, the first Latina “Bachelorette.” In the episode, called “Betrayed by trusted adults”, Crawley spoke about the child abuse he experienced at the hands of a priest.
The Associated Press does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse unless they agree to be named or share their stories publicly.
Sitting at the round red 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 this because I was one of them. “.
“You have waited for this moment for a long time,” his niece told him.
“93% of abused children know and trust their abusers, and I know it because I was one of them.”
“Yes,” Estefan replied.
The three held hands with teary eyes.
He did not mention his abuser, but described how he tried to stop him. She said the abuse started slowly before moving fast, and that she knew she was in a dangerous situation after dealing with it.
“I told him, ‘This can’t happen, you can’t do this.’ He says, ‘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 mother.”
Estefan said she started making excuses to avoid going to music classes. Her daughter Emily asked if her grandmother had any indication that something was up. People didn’t talk about those things back then, Estefan replied.
He tried to communicate with his father, with whom he exchanged voice tapes while he was stationed in Vietnam.
The program played recordings in Spanish from when Estefan was 9 years old with English subtitles:
Gloria: “I’m taking guitar lessons. I like them but the exercises are a bit difficult.”
His dad: “Mommy told me that the owner of the academy where you are taking your guitar lessons is very proud of you.”
Gloria: “I like the notes, but it is a bit boring to study the notes.”
His dad: “Mommy tells me that he said you are a born artist.”
Estefan said that the level of anxiety caused her to lose a “circle of hair.”
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said, so one night he ran to his mother’s room at 3 am and told her what was going on.
Her mother called the police, but officers advised her not to press charges because the trauma of testifying would be too damaging.
Both Crawley and Estefan said during the show that they didn’t like being called victims. Crawley called herself a survivor.
Estefan said she did not tell the producers that she would reveal her story on Thursday’s episode. No one knew about the abuse except her family, said the singer, who has been married to music producer Emilio Estefan for more than four decades.
He also said that when his mother began to ask about this man in the family, an aunt told her that he had abused her years ago in Cuba.
The Associated Press asked the show’s publicist if Estefan could answer some questions, even if the man was still alive. The publicist told the AP she would not comment further.
On “Red Table Talk,” Estefan recalled that it almost went public in the mid-80s, when his hit “Conga” with Miami Sound Machine was at the top of the Billboard charts and “this predator, who was a respected member of 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 the lid off everything,” she said. “And then I thought, ‘All my success will turn to him!
“It’s manipulation and control, but that’s what they do, they take away your power,” she added, also admitting that the fear that there might be other victims makes her feel bad.
After introducing Crawley and telling him that she didn’t want to sit quietly while sharing her story, Estefan said that she had been waiting for the right opportunity and space to tell her own.
The show was that space.
“This is one of the reasons why I said yes to the ‘(Red) Table (Talk)’, because we wanted to create this space where we talk about important things that, hopefully, will make a difference for everyone who is there. looking. . “