Carlos Santana Forgives the Man Who Sexually Abused Him
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Iconic guitarist Carlos Santana has opened up about how he managed to forgive the man who sexually abused him for two years. The 75-year-old musician spoke to PEOPLE about the abuse he suffered between the ages of 10 and 12. His experiences are shared in the upcoming documentary Carlos, set to be released on June 17 at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The first time Santana spoke about the sexual abuse was in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2000. He revealed that he had been abused “almost every day” for two years by a man who crossed the border into Mexico and brought him toys and gifts.
In a 2014 interview with The Guardian, Santana described his attacker as an American tourist who befriended his parents. “My son and I were talking about it yesterday because acceptance and forgiveness are very spiritual,” he told The Guardian. “I learned to look at everyone, at those who tried to hurt me, humiliate me, or make me feel less than, as if they were 5 or 6 years old, and thus I am able to look at them with understanding and compassion.”
This newfound wisdom has allowed Santana to see his attacker’s actions from a new perspective and find the strength to forgive. “Instead of sending this person who sexually abused me to hell forever, I visualized him as a child, and behind him, there was a lot of light,” Santana shared. “So I can choose to send him to the light or send him to hell, knowing that if I send him to hell, I’ll go with him. But if I send him to the light, I’ll go with him too.”
Santana reflects on the power of forgiveness, saying, “People hurt hurts other people. It’s my pain. It did happen to me, but if you open your hands and let it go, you don’t feel that anymore.” The 10-time Grammy Award winner hopes that by sharing his experiences, he can bring hope and courage to others.
To read the full interview with Carlos Santana, check out the new issue of PEOPLE magazine.