Gloria Estefan opens up about childhood sexual abuse: 'It was someone that my mother trusted'

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Gloria Estefan is opening up about childhood trauma for the first time. On Thursday's episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans, the singer revealed she was sexually abused by a relative at age 9.

"Ninety-three percent of abused children know and trust their abusers. And I know this because I was one of them," the 64-year-old "Conga" singer began.

"You've waited for this moment a long time," said Gloria's niece, Lili Estefan, also at the table.

"I have," Gloria continued on the Facebook Watch show. "It was someone that my mother trusted. 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… she felt lucky that he was focusing his kind of attention on me."

Gloria Estefan reveals for the first time she was sexually abused as a child.
Gloria Estefan reveals for the first time she was sexually abused as a child. (Photo: Reuters)

The Grammy winner added, "He put it in a way of 'Oh you're so good at this and let me teach you'... it starts little by little, and then it goes fast."

Gloria knew she "was in a very dangerous situation," especially when the man threatened the life of her mother.

"When I revolted and 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,'" she 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 that he might actually hurt my mother."

Gloria said she "tried every which way to get out of going to that school," like faking she was sick. Her mother didn't suspect anything was going on. "[Sexual abuse] was not talked about at all in her lifetime," the singer noted.

The anxiety eventually became too much to bear, with "a circle of hair" falling from her head. She ran into her mom's room in the middle of the night and told her everything. Her mother called the police.

"Then the police came... 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," Gloria shared. "And that's the one thing that I feel bad about, knowing that there must've been other victims."

The man, whom Gloria calls a "predator," remained "a respected member of the community."

"When we had our first big hit with Conga, [he] wrote a letter to the paper criticizing my music," she revealed. "At that moment, I was so angry that I was about to blow the lid off of everything and then I thought... 'My whole success is going to turn into him.'"

Gloria slammed "that manipulation and control, but that’s what they do. They take your power."

Former Bachelorette lead Clare Crawley joined the table for the emotional episode and discussed being sexually abused by a priest as a child. The reality star helped inspire Gloria to share her story, which only family members knew.

"I wanted to deal with this subject matter because it is so important to try to prevent. I also did not want to sit here quietly while you share and are brave," she told Crawley. "I knew one day I would share this story. 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. 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."