Common Opens Up About Being Abused As A Child To Help Others Heal (Video)

From the outside looking in, Lonnie Rashid Lynn (professionally known as Common), has led a charmed life. The Chicago artist, who got his start in entertainment as a rapper, added acting to his repertoire and, over the course of his career, has won an Oscar, an Emmy and multiple Grammy awards. In listening to his music, however, Common has shown tremendous vulnerability over the years. On his song “Retrospect For Life,” featuring Lauryn Hill, he shared his most intimate thoughts, as he struggled with an unplanned pregnancy. In other songs, he’s addressed matters ranging from unjust imprisonment to gentrification in his beloved hometown. However, in his new book, Let Love Have the Last Word, Common has revealed something he never previously disclosed: that he was sexually abused as a child, a matter he had repressed until a few years ago, and kept to himself since then.

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In his book, Common says the memory of the traumatic event came back to him when he was rehearsing lines for a film in which he starred with Laura Dern. “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.’”

In recounting the event, Common writes “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…” He and Brandon had to share a bed one night, and Common says “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.’” He goes on to write that Brandon would not stop, and eventually pulled down Common’s shorts and molested him. “I felt a deep and sudden shame for what happened,” he writes of his reaction to the abuse.

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In an interview for Good Morning America released today, Common expounds on the title of his book. “I’m talking about love for God, love for community, love for self, and love in action. If we look at things and put love in our core–if we work from that place–things will shift and change.” In speaking about why he chose to reveal the molestation now, Common said “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. And, me, I’m a Black man. We don’t talk about those issues in ways that we could, 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.” Common goes on to say that as soon as he came forward with his story, a friend revealed he, too, had been abused.

Common says that he is trying to forgive his assailant. “It’s still a process for me in certain ways, but I have to look at my life and know that that’s somebody else’s pain that they distributed to me. And, I don’t want to carry that, so let me figure out how it has affected me and approach it head on, deal with it, and let it go.”