Gloria Estefan is recalling memories of when she was sexually abused by a family member as a child.
The "Conga" singer revisited her trauma during an appearance of "Red Table Talk: The Estefans" on Facebook Watch. Estefan has never spoken publicly of the abuse before but said she knew it was time to reveal her past because it is something that is important to try and prevent.
"Ninety-three percent of abused children know and trust their abusers. And I know this because I was one of them," she said while sitting down with her niece Lili Estefan, 54, and daughter Emily Estefan, 26.
Estefan said she was nine years old when the abuse started. She was attending a music school and being taught by a distant relative who used his power against her.
"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 recalled. "He put it in a way of, 'Oh, you're so good at this, and let me teach you whatever.' And then, it starts little by little and then it goes fast."
The three-time Grammy winner recalled how her attempts to ward the man off were met by threats of violence.
"I revolted and I told him, 'This cannot happen, you cannot do this,' and he goes, 'Your father's in Vietnam, your mother's alone, and I will kill her if you tell her,'" Estefan recalled. "And I knew he 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."
Eventually Estefan said she could not take the anxiety anymore and spilled her heart out to her mother, who immediately contacted the police. However, they advised against her pressing charges because Estefan would "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 have been other victims," she continued.
Estefan said she knew one day she would share the story with the public but needed it to be on her own terms.
"I was waiting for the right opportunity and space to do so. And this is one of the reasons I said yes to the table at all," she said. "Because we wanted to create this space where we talk about important things and hopefully it will make a difference to everybody that's watching out there."
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