Carlos Santana has opened up about alleged sexual abuse suffered as a child, saying he now looks at his abuser with "understanding and compassion."

He said his perspective on what happened to him has changed over time. "My son and I were talking about this yesterday, how acceptance and forgiveness are really spiritual," Santana tells People. "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 five- or six-years-old, and I'm able to look at them with understanding and compassion."

He continued: "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."

Santana first publicly spoke about the abuse in 2000. He said he was brought over the Mexican border “almost every other day” between 1957 and 1959 by an American man who bribed him with presents and molested him. Santana was between 10 and 12 years old.

"I was seduced by toys, and I was seduced by being brought to America with all kinds of gifts and stuff," he told Rolling Stone. "And, being a child, I blocked that other part, because there was the other goodies of somebody taking you to Sears and Roebuck."

Santana said he spent a long time blaming himself for what happened. "The mind has a very insidious way of making you feel guilty," he said. "You’re the guilty party, shame on you, you’re the one who brought this on yourself." He said his career helped him move on: "I have learned to convert all this energy now into something productive and creative."

Now, he's ready to forgive his molester. "There's this saying, 'Hurt people hurt people,'" Santana told 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."

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