In his new book, Let Love Have the Last Word, activist, rapper and actor Common revealed a traumatic childhood event that he was only able to remember fully until two years ago. The award-winning musician writes candidly about an incident from when he was nine or 10 in Chicago and a family friend molested him on a family trip. He shared that he didn’t remember it had happened until he was running lines with Laura Dern in preparation for The Tale.
“One day, while talking through the script with Laura, old memories surprisingly flashed in my mind,” he wrote of his moment of recollection first shared with People. ” 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.'”
He goes on to describe the circumstances of his abuse as he remembered them.
“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…” Common recounts, explaining that he and “Brandon” had to share a bed for a night at his aunt’s house.
“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 continues. “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.”
Common admitted that he had “buried” those feelings and memories until the scene with Dern re-awakened things.
“I just pushed the whole thing out of my head,” he says. “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’s also recently been on a guest on several talk shows, opening up about why it’s important to open up about trauma, mental health struggles and s set an example for others who may in pain.
“The work on myself is helping me go out and be a better human being to others.”@common on the importance of opening up about his therapy and the stigma around mental health in his new book, ‘Let Love Have the Last Word’. https://t.co/aQbZEFgpFV pic.twitter.com/gCQiwd9Lv0
— The View (@TheView) May 7, 2019
The Tale, written and directed by Jennifer Fox, is the dramatized version of Fox’s (played by Dern) real childhood sexual abuse and how it has impacted her relationships since then. Common plays Fox’s fiancé as she grapples with the events of her past and has realizations about what they mean for her now. The overarching plot is reminiscent of Common’s experience, showing just how prevalent these stories of abuse are. Common has stated that he hopes by sharing his story, he is servicing a greater good.
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. https://t.co/DRvuPBcJIp
— COMMON (@common) May 8, 2019
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.
— COMMON (@common) May 8, 2019