Gloria Estefan Makes Heartbreaking Confession on Red Table Talk: The Estefans About Abuse She Endured
Gloria Estefan sat at the red table with daughter Emily Estefan and niece Lili Estefan and made a heartbreaking confession. On the new episode of the Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk: The Estefans, the Cuban singer, 64, revealed for the first time that she was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. "You've waited for this moment a long time," says Lili Estefan in tears before her aunt Gloria shares her story.
"93 percent of abused children know and trust their abusers and I know this, because I was one of them," the singer says. "I was 9 years old when this happened and it was someone that my mother trusted. He was family but not close family. He was in a position of power because they 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. He put it in a way of 'Oh you're so good at this. Let me teach you.' It starts little by little and then it goes fast," she recalls.
The agresor threatened her when she fought back. "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 is alone and I will kill her," she adds.
The former lead singer of Miami Sound Machine was very frightened. "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."
Her daughter, singer Emily Estefan, asks about her late grandmother Gloria Fajardo: "Abuela didn't have any inkling something was going on?" The 'Mi Tierra' singer says her mother did not suspect anything. Gloria Estefan lied about feeling sick to try to get out of going to that music school. "A circle of hair fell out from my head from anxiety," she recalls.
"Finally one morning, at 3 a.m., I just ran to my mother's room because I couldn't take it anymore. I told her about it. The police came and she said: 'this is what's happening' 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]."
The beloved performer —who stars with Andy García in the comedy Father of the Bride— considered speaking out about this traumatic experience in the past, but didn't feel ready until now. "That's the one thing I feel bad about, knowing that there must have been other victims," Gloria says. Years ago, when her hit 'Conga' catapulted her to fame, "this predator who was a respected member of the community," had the audacity to write a letter to a newspaper criticizing her music.
"At that moment I was so angry that I was about to blow the lid off of everything," Gloria admits. "Then I thought: 'My whole success is going to turn into him'." The singer decided to keep her story away from the public light, until today. "It's that manipulation and control," she says about sexual abusers. "That's what they do, they take your power."
Clare Crawley, the first Latina Bachelorette, also appeared on the show, seating at the red table and sharing her testimony as a victim of child sexual abuse. Crawley, of Mexican descent, was molested by a priest when she was 5 years old, a trauma that continued to affect her into adulthood, as she admits she got into relationships with me that didn't value her.
If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse, you are not alone. Call 800-656-HOPE or visit rainn.org for free and confidential support 24/7