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Carlos Santana Forgives The Man Who Sexually Abused Him For Years As A Child: 'Hurt People Hurt People'

Carlos Santana Forgives The Man Who Sexually Abused Him For Years As A Child: 'Hurt People Hurt People'

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

Carlos Santana is showing an impressive amount of forgiveness years after a horrible series of acts altered his life.

The legendary guitarist is the focus of a new documentary called, appropriately, Carlos. The film about the 75-year-old musical prodigy’s life will debut on Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival. But early returns are already in, and the guitarist is speaking out about key points of the film to help promote its forthcoming debut.

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In one particularly poignant interview with People, Santana discussed something that is covered quite a bit in the film: his childhood molestation at the hands of an American tourist.

Now, this isn’t the first time Carlos has spoken about being molested. Way back in 2000, he revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that he was molested “almost every day” between the ages of 10 and 12. Considering Carlos is now 75 years old, this would have put the abuse at some point in the late 1950s.

That abuse, Santana told the mag back then, was allegedly perpetrated by an American man. He would cross the border daily into Mexico and seek out Carlos after having befriended his parents. Along with sexually abusing the now-famous musician as a young child, the man would bring Santana toys and gifts.

In Thursday’s discussion with People regarding the aforementioned documentary about his life, Santana re-lived the abuse once more. But instead of choosing to be bitter or upset — which would be perfectly understandable — the Maria Maria performer opted to choose forgiveness. He began his conversation with the mag by explaining how forgiveness in general has been on his mind for quite some time:

“My son and I were talking about this yesterday, how acceptance and forgiveness are really spiritual. I learned to look at everyone who ever went out of their way to hurt me, demean me or make me feel like less, like they’re 5 or 6 years old, and I’m able to look at them with understanding and compassion.”

And then, he linked it to his alleged abuser. Explaining how he visualized the abuser “like a child,” Santana told the outlet that he now chooses to seek forgiveness from here to eternity:

“For example, this person who abused me sexually, instead of sending him to hell forever, I visualized him like a child, and behind him there was a lot of light. So I can send him to the light or send him to hell knowing that if I send him to hell, I’m going to go with him. But if I send him to the light, then I’m going to go with him also.”


Carlos continued by likening the situation to a very profound saying:

“There’s this saying, ‘hurt people hurt people.’ It’s my pain. It did happen to me. But if you open your hands, and you let it go, then you don’t feel that anymore.”

That’s really big of him. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence, time, patience, and grace to be able to come to a conclusion like that.

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Thankfully, it sounds like Santana is living his best life now in his 70s — and he feels like a kid again.

The ten-time Grammy winner said even now, decades into his career, his goal in music remains to “give hope and courage to people,” concluding:

“Now everything’s a fun time because there’s still a 7-year-old Carlos in me that looks at life like, ‘What are we going to get into today?’ I’m just starting, and everything has prepared me for this.”

Very powerful!

Reactions, Perezcious readers?

If you have sincere cause to suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like to learn more about resources, consider checking out

[Image via Alberto Reyes/WENN/Avalon]

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Jun 16, 2023 13:28pm PDT