Gloria Estefan has revealed that, at the age of 9, she was sexually abused by someone her mother trusted. The Cuban-American superstar spoke for the first time publicly about the abuse and its effects on her during an episode of the Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk: The Estefans that aired Thursday, the AP reports. “He was family, but not close family. 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,” the singer said.
Estefan, who was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with her family when she was a toddler, revealed the abuse at the top of the show, which featured Clare Crawley, the first Latina “Bachelorette.” On the episode, called “Betrayed by Trusted Adults,” Crawley talked about child abuse she experienced at the hands of a priest. Sitting at the round red table with her co-hosts—daughter Emily Estefan and 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’ve waited for this moment a long time,” her niece told her. “I have,” Estefan replied. The three held hands with teary eyes. She did not name her abuser but described how she tried to stop him. She said the abuse started little by little before moving fast, and that she knew that she was in a dangerous situation after confronting him. “I told him, ‘This cannot happen, you cannot do this.’ He goes: ‘Your father’s in Vietnam, your mother’s alone and I will kill her if you tell her,’” Estefan said. “And I knew it 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.” (More here.)