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Common’s new memoir delves into a traumatic experience he previously had never spoken about publicly: He wrote he was molested as a child.
The 47-year-old rapper, actor, and activist released his new memoir, “Let Love Have the Last Word,” on Tuesday, and in it he reveals he came to the realization two years ago that he’d been molested by a family friend as a child but had suppressed his memories of the experience up until that point.
He was rehearsing a scene with actress Laura Dern, with whom he starred in a film about sexual abuse called “The Tale,” when the realization first hit him, he wrote, according to PEOPLE.
“One day, while talking through the script with Laura, old memories surprisingly flashed in my mind,” he wrote. “I caught my breath and just kept looping the memories over and over, like rewinding an old VHS tape…I said ‘Laura, I think I was abused.'”
The abuse happened, he reportedly wrote, when he and his family, who lived in Chicago, took a family trip to Cleveland when he was 9 or 10 years old. During the course of the trip, he had to share a bed with “Brandon,” someone he described as a relative of his godbrother.
They were in bed at his aunt’s house when he “felt Brandon’s hand on me,” he wrote.
“I pushed him away. I don’t remember saying a whole lot besides ‘No, no, no,'” he continued.
“He kept saying ‘It’s okay, It’s okay,’ as he pulled down my shorts and molested me,” he went on. “After he stopped he kept asking me to perform it on him. I kept repeating ‘No’ and pushing him away. I felt a deep and sudden shame for what happened.”
Common went on to say he “buried” the memories, and hasn’t seen the person who abused him in 25 years, according to PEOPLE. He has, however, forgiven him.
“I want to be a person who helps break cycles of violence,” he explained. “This is love in action and I intend to practice it.”
Common, whose real name is Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn, discussed his decision to speak about the abuse during a visit to “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, where he explained that, although he was initially unsure about opening up about his experience, he ultimately concluded it was important for him to tell his story.
“And me, I’m a black man and we don’t talk about those issues in ways that we could,” he said. “So I felt, I wanted to create a space for people who have experienced that to be able to share that. That’s part of the healing, to be honest.”
After he told the story, a “good friend” opened up about having had the same thing happen to him, he said.
He added that, although it is still a “process,” he has “for sure” forgiven his abuser.
“I have to look at my life and know that, man, that’s somebody else’s pain that they kinda distributed to me and I don’t want to carry that, so let me figure out where [and] how it has affected me and approach it head on, deal with it, and let it go,” he said.
Common also addressed his decision to tell his story on Twitter, writing in one tweet that “many men” have hidden being sexually abused.
“I hope being open about my childhood trauma can give others the strength to do the same and help them on their healing journeys. We all have experienced pain and suffering. It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he wrote in another tweet.
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