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Seated next to her daughter Emily Estefan and niece Lili Estefan, the music icon began, “Ninety-three percent of abused children know and trust their abusers, and I know this because I was one of them.”
Her niece said as the three ladies held hands, “You’ve waited for this moment a long time.”
Gloria replied, “I have,” and continued: “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.”
She added abuse “starts little by little and then it goes fast.”
“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 recalled. The singer said she knew she was not responsible for her abuser’s actions, but she worried he would hurt her mother. She feigned sickness to get out of going to music classes.
Emily asked if Gloria’s mother was aware of the abuse. “No, mama, because first of all, that was not talked about at all in her lifetime,” she responded. “And then my dad was in Vietnam. I remember sending him tapes saying, ‘Dad, I really don’t — I’d rather sing songs and I don’t want to do classical music.'”
The show played audio recordings from cassette tapes of Gloria speaking with her father about her music lessons.
Gloria remembered the early morning when she revealed the abuse to her mother. “Then the police came, and she said, ‘This is what’s happening,'” Gloria explained. “And they told my mother not to press charges because they said I was going to go through worse trauma having to get on a stand.”
She continued, “And that’s the one thing that I feel bad about knowing that there must’ve been other victims.” Her abuser, who she says was considered a “respected member of the community,” wrote to a paper years later criticizing her music after her first hit, “Conga.”
“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 gonna turn into him,” she explained. “It’s that manipulation and control. But that’s what they do. They take your power.”
Gloria said she had previously only opened up about the abuse to her family and that even the show’s producers were not aware she planned to share this story.
The Estefans then introduced the first Latina Bachelorette, Clare Crawley. In July, Crawley shared a post on Instagram and in the caption she said she is “a child of sexual abuse.”
After reading the entire caption to the Estefans, Crawley provided more details about her abuse: “I believe I was right around five or six years old. I was in first grade. And one of the biggest things in going to school for me was that I was just painfully shy.”
“I grew up going to a Catholic school, and I was a victim of a predator,” Crawley said, with Gloria adding that the man was a priest. “My parents looked at Catholic priests as — they held them on a pedestal.”
The former Bachelorette added, “The Catholic school treated him as a counselor. My parents did the best they could and reached out for the resources they could at the time and sent me to this priest, and I don’t think there was any counseling that was done — it was one-on-one time to be a predator.”
In telling her story, Crawley added that she is “not a victim, but a survivor.”
Watch the full episode here.
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