Gloria Estefan Reveals That She Was Sexually Abused By Her Music Teacher When She Was a Child
On the season premiere of “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” Gloria Estefan revealed a painful secret that she has kept from the public for her entire career. In an episode entitled “Betrayed by Trusted Adults,” Estefan revealed that when she was 9-years-old, she was sexually abused by her music teacher — a man who was also a family member.
“Ninety-three percent of abused children know and trust their abusers,” she said at the open of the show. “And I know this because I was one of them.”
Estefan revealed that her mother encouraged her relationship with the unnamed man because he was a trusted member of the community. “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. “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.”
As the abuse continued, Estefan became more and more distressed. She would come up with excuses to avoid her music lessons. Her hair started falling out. But she was too afraid to reveal the abuse to her mother.
Gloria Estefan revealed that her music teacher threatened to hurt her and her family if she decided to tell her parents.
“Your father’s in Vietnam, your mother’s alone, and I will kill her if you tell her,” he told her. And because Estefan already knew he was mentally unstable, she believed him.
When Gloria Estefan finally told her mother, her mother called the police. The police advised Gloria’s mother not to press charges on her daughter’s abuser because it would only “traumatize” the 9-year-old girl.
To this day, Estefan reveals that she has regrets about the decision not to report her abuser because she is certain that he abused other students while he taught music. In fact, Estefan discovered later that her abuser had actually molested her aunt back in Cuba as well. But like Gloria, her aunt was silenced.
But Gloria Estefan wasn’t the only Latina to discuss her childhood trauma this episode. Clare Crawley, the first Latina “Bachelorette”, sat down with the Estefans to reveal that she was molested by a Catholic priest as a child.
Crawley explained that her parents sent her to a Catholic priest to “consul” her because of her debilitating shyness at Catholic school. “I don’t think there was any counseling that was done,” she recalled. “It was one-on-one time for him to be a predator.”
Like Estefan, Clare Crawley also kept the abuse a secret for a long time. Crawley explained that she was too afraid to tell her parents about the abuse because she knew that they held Catholic priests in such high esteem. Eventually, her parents found out about the abuse and they sued the Church. The Church ended up transferring the offending priest to a different parish where he went on to abuse more children.
“These predators bank on us being silent. These predators bank on us not saying anything and not opening our mouths. And that’s what gives them that power. And that’s why after 39 years, instead of letting it affect me negatively, I thought, ‘How do I take the power back?'” Now, years later, Crawley feels empowered by sharing her story.
You can watch the episode here.
If you have experienced sexual assault and are in need of immediate support, call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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