Common on Mental Health and Trauma
Rapper and actor Common survived being molested as a child. It took years for him to cope with the trauma – and now he's using his platform to end the stigma about getting help.
Rapper, actor and activist recently published a book and album where he opens up about his past.
Humiliation can sometimes succeed in silence. With every word spoken, every narrative repossessed, sexual abuse victims and survivors have found a transformed power. In his new memoir, Let Love Have the Last Word, Common spoke about a topic that is often buried in silence amongst black men in the community — experiencing sexual assault. The resurgence of his traumatic memories came from a workshopping session with fellow actor and colleague Laura Dern. On a particular night, young Common had to share a bed with an anonymous family member. While in bed, he felt the man’s hand on him, an action which the boy rejected.
“Being molested as a child was something that i hid away from myself. It was like it didn’t exist. After the incident, I literally didn’t think about it and that was just my way of dealing with trauma, I guess. This memory really just showed up, it showed itself when I was working on a film and this film was dealing with child sexual abuse and during rehearsal for a scene, I was like you know, wait this happened to me. And as I started to come to grips with those memories, I felt it was something that I was going to have to deal with, but I still didn’t immediately the next day go to my therapist and talk about it. So, it has been a process of me actually coming to grips with it. I’ve decided I wanted to talk about it publicly because I have come across a lot of individuals who have been molested and abused and I saw how their lives were painful, I saw how much hurt they were carrying with them and I wanted to make it ok for people who experience that specific trauma, any trauma to be like “it’s ok that this happened to me”. I can be ok, I can work through this, I can work through the pain and not dodge it and go around it or forget about it but I can work through it and be a better person on the other side, be even a greater human being,” multi-talented artist Common tells Brut.
Common hasn’t seen his accused assaulter in 25 years and did note that he has forgiven him. Much like many people who cope with sexual trauma, Common initially disassociated from the experience. Since then, he has found solace in processing his traumas in therapy.