Common opens up about a painful childhood memory in his new memoir, Let Love Have the Last Word.
In his book, released on Tuesday, the Grammy and Oscar-winning rapper reveals he was molested by his godbrother’s relative when he was 9 or 10 years old.
However, the musician came to the realization two years ago while workshopping a scene with friend Laura Dern for their movie, The Tale.
The 47-year-old wrote:
“One day, while talking through the script with Laura, old memories surprisingly flashed in my mind… 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.’”
According to the musician, the incident happened after a road trip from Chicago to his aunt’s house in Cleveland.
“I was excited for a road trip I was about to take with my family. My mother; my godmother, Barbara; her son and my godbrother Skeet; and his relative, who I’ll call Brandon…”
On one night of the trip, the artist — born Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn — and Brandon shared a bed.
“At some point I felt Brandon’s hand on me… I pushed him away. I don’t remember saying a whole lot besides ‘No, no, no.’”
However, Common said his abuser continued to violate him.
“He kept saying ‘It’s okay, It’s okay,’ as he pulled down my shorts and molested me. 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.’”
After the traumatic experience, Common said he “buried” the painful memories, explaining:
“I just pushed the whole thing out of my head… Maybe it’s a matter of survival—Even now, two years after that flash resurgence of memories, as I’m writing, I’m still working through all of this in myself and with my therapist.”
Though Common has not seen his abuser in over 25 years, he has forgiven him for the assault.
“I want to be a person who helps break cycles of violence… This is love in action and I intend to practice it.”
In an interview with Good Morning America that aired on Tuesday, the activist told Robin Roberts that he was hesitant to share his story, explaining:
“It was something that I didn’t know if I wanted to talk about… But I really believe that in telling my story, other people will be OK with talking about that situation.”
Though he says “ don’t talk about those issues in ways that we could,” Common wanted to help others who may experienced similar situations.
“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. No sooner than I told the story, one of my good friends came out and told me it had happened to him.”
“It’s still a process for me, in certain ways… But 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 wanna carry that, so let me figure out how it is affecting me and approach it head on, deal with it, and let it go.”
If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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