Common claims he was molested as a child in new memoir

NOTE: This article contains graphic sexual language that some readers may find offensive and disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

Common shared a painful part of his past in his new memoir Let Love Have the Last Word, which was released on May 7.

The rapper reflected on a time when he says he was molested at nine years old.

According to People, the alleged assault happened during a trip to Cleveland, but he didn’t fully identify his alleged abuser, only saying it was a person related to his godbrother.

“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 explained.

He said that at some point he felt Brandon’s hand on him.

“I pushed him away. I don’t remember saying a whole lot besides ‘no, no, no,’” Common wrote in his memoir, according to People. “I felt a deep and sudden shame for what happened.”

Common wrote that he “buried” his memory of the alleged incident until workshopping a scene with Laura Dern for The Tale.

“One day, while talking through the script with Laura, old memories surprisingly flashed in my mind,” he began. “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 Glory artist said he “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,” he wrote.

The Barbershop: The Next Cut actor appeared on Good Morning America to discuss his memoir Tuesday.

He spoke with Robin Roberts about the abuse he experienced as a child.

“It was something 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,” he said.

Common continued: “And me, I’m a black man. We don’t talk about those issues in ways that we could so I felt that 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 me, to be honest.”

Common said that after he told his story, one of his good friends reached out to him and said that the same thing happened to him.

When Roberts asked the Testify rapper if he has gotten to a place of forgiveness for this person, he said: “Yes, for sure.”

“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 kind of distributed to me. I don’t want to carry that so let me figure out how it is affecting me, approach it head-on, deal with it and let it go,” he explained.

Common tweeted about opening up about his trauma.

“I talked about being molested because, as a Black man, many men have hidden that. Many people have hidden that. And you carry that weight with you. But at some point, you’ve got to let it go,” he tweeted.

He continued: “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.”

According to Dr. Jillian Roberts, a child psychologist and associate professor at the University of Victoria, it’s not uncommon for survivors to keep childhood sexual abuse a secret.

“I believe that many, many people are abused without telling anyone,” she said. “Sexual abuse still has a stigma in our society.”

Because of the painful nature of abuse, Dr. Roberts says there are important warning signs adults should pay attention to that may indicate a child is in danger.

“A child who is experiencing sexual abuse would likely show you some red flags in their behaviour,” she explained.

“(Their) behaviour can quickly change.”

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, child sexual abuse can include sexual contact with a child but also includes other behaviours, “like exposing oneself, sharing obscene images or taking inappropriate photos or videos of a child.”

The organization states that sexual abuse not only has an immediate impact on a child but also their development and can affect them into adulthood. Because sexual abuse can be very traumatizing, Dr. Roberts says that if a child is being harmed, their demeanour may change.

According to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, if a child is being sexually abused, there are also often physical indicators. These include frequent sore throats or urinary infections, bedwetting or soiling the bed, thumb-sucking, changes in appetite and disturbed sleep.

Even if a child initially denies abuse, Dr. Roberts says it’s important for them to get support if an adult is concerned a child is in danger.

“I would advise (adults) to reach out to Children’s Aid or to the equivalent ministry in their province,” Dr. Roberts said. “An experienced social worker can (also) provide a great deal of advice.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.

—With files from Global News’ Laura Hensley

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